This summer, staff at Hard Bargain Farm led two teacher institutes for 36 elementary school teachers within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. They were both very well received! During the institutes, participants became familiar with our curriculum, Potomac River & Chesapeake Bay Issues. They left with a better understanding of the environmental science content as well as how to convey that content to their students in hands-on activities.
“HBF will be used in conjunction to the voluntary state curriculum-the appendix of the HBF curriculum will ensure I am adhering to the required indicators while providing me with ways to integrate other content areas.” – PGCPS Teacher
Many teachers come to our Institute afraid of bugs, snakes, worms, and more. They spend the majority of their time inside four walls and are disconnected from the natural environment. David Sobel, author of Beyond Ecophobia, states that people have to love nature before we can ask them to heal its wounds. This goes for students as well as their teachers (and the general public!). So, building trust between HBF staff and our teacher participants is key in order to get them outside, digging in the soil, dipnetting in the creeks, wading into the Potomac, and kayaking on the Patuxent. Once outside, and as their comfort level increases, the love of nature comes, well, naturally! This is an attitude our teachers will carry with them into the classroom, and it will rub off on their students. This is how we educate a generation of students who will love nature and fight to protect it.
“I was never fond of science and now I want to go home and test my water and learn what trees are in my backyard!” – DCPS Teacher
“I love kayaking! Who knew? The outdoors becomes comfortable when you have been in it for awhile.” – PGCPS Teacher
Finally, teachers learned how to incorporate environmental education in an interdisciplinary way into their curriculum. The reality of public education today is that teachers have an extremely limited amount of time to teach science anymore. Recently, I spoke with a teacher who plans on teaching science every Friday for 45 minutes! So, we focused a lot of our time on making connections between lessons in our curriculum and standards that can be taught that are outside of science. We also spent time talking about how to take lessons in a variety of subject areas and do parts of them outside with students. In this way, we can use environmental education as a context for learning other subject areas in order to maximize instructional time devoted to learning about the environment.
“I have changed my views about outdoor education. I am now eager and armed with tools needed to teach outdoors.” – CCPS Teacher
“Thank you for such a mindset changing experience. I will not be the same educator I was before this. I have learned many ways to use science as the portal to teach English, math, social studies, etc. So much more fun that way.” – PGCPS Teacher
“This was such a well run, well organized, well taught, and useful institute. So much better than the professional development I’m used to. I learned a lot and want to take so much of it with me, which is very refreshing. Thank you!” – DCPS Teacher