Key Area 3

Ensuring Environmental Literacy through Professional Development

Current Context

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2001 identifies professional development (PD) as an essential component of a district-wide educational improvement plan. High-quality professional development as defined by this act9 identifies many factors that aid in developing effective professional development programs such as administrator support, long-term and sustained training and programs that are grounded in research and clinical knowledge of teaching and learning. The professional development must be aligned with pre-K-12 curriculum and assessment practices for the participant’s school, and include age-level appropriate instruction. These are components of professional development programs that lead to changes in teaching practices.

photo credit: Prescott ConservancyAccording to an educator survey conducted by the Environmental Literacy Plan Working Group, over half of the teachers who responded strongly agreed that they would like to integrate environmental content into their classes, however only a quarter of the responders strongly agreed that they felt prepared to integrate environmental issues into the classroom.

Many pre-service teacher education degree programs currently do not have an environmental literacy component. Professional development opportunities should be available for informal and formal educators and administrators at all levels including early childhood, pre K-12 as well as the college level.

Strategies

All strategies are guided by the NAAEE Guidelines for the preparation and professional development of environmental educators10, while bearing in mind the definition of “High Quality Professional Development” as laid out by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2001.

  • NH Department of Education, together with NH Environmental Educators, will encourage the development and maintenance of an online database of state environmental education resources and programs.
  • Schools and teachers will continue to partner with state and federal natural resource agencies in New Hampshire.
  • A task force will be created with broad-based representation to develop environmental literacy competencies for K-12 teachers based on NAAEE guidelines, and professional development providers will align their programs with those guidelines.
  • Higher education institutions will work together with nonformal EE providers and NH Department of Education to discover aspects of environmental literacy that support other initiatives such as STEM.

photo credit: Squam Lakes Natural Science Center

There are four aspects of professional development addressed by New Hampshire’s Environmental Literacy Plan.

1. Pre-service Professional Development

Short Term Outcomes:

  • Establish student-learning outcomes for Environmental Literacy competencies.

Medium Term Outcomes:

  • Establish a requirement for Environmental Literacy competencies in higher education programs through coursework, internships, and other experiences.
  • Most higher education institutions that provide administrative training will require Environmental Literacy competencies.

Long Term Outcomes:

  • Teacher certification includes environmental education components.
  • Administrative certification includes environmental education components.

 2. In-service Professional Development

Short Term Outcomes:

  • Maintain existing environmental education professional development opportunities.
  • Educators seek out environmental education professional development.
  • Educators begin to integrate environmental education into the curriculum.
  • Professional development opportunities should be marketed to educators and administrators.

Medium Term Outcomes:

  • Establish new relationships with environmental literacy professional development  providers.
  • Establish network for sharing environmental literacy professional development funding opportunities and EE resources.

Long Term Outcomes:

  • All districts have a working relationship with an environmental literacy professional development provider.
  • Majority of educators are integrating environmental education into student coursework.

 3. Professional Development Providers

Short Term Outcomes:

  • Establish training guidelines amongst Nonformal Environmental Education providers, which are aligned to current professional development guidelines.

Medium Term Outcomes:

  • Establish network of field-based training organizations and opportunities providing high quality professional development that encourages environmental literacy.

Long Term Outcomes:

  • All teachers have participated in field-based environmental literacy training.
  • A network exists to continue high quality field-based training.

4. Professional Development Policy

Short Term Outcomes:

  • Administrative units participate in environmental literacy professional development.

Medium Term Outcomes:

  • Administrative units identify environmental education as a core component of high quality education.

Long Term Outcomes:

  • Schools adjust curriculum requirements to include environmental education.
  • Administrative units encourage environmental education professional development and seek out funding for training.

photo credit: Squam Lakes Natural Science Center

Advertisements