The partner organizations of the Parks Climate Challenge program established six essential elements of a successful teacher training. This approach has shaped our in-person teacher trainings and the resources offered in this website.
1. National Park Focus
National parks serve as prime examples of the impacts of climate change as well as the future vulnerabilities our ecosystems may face. Using these public lands as a classroom for students allows climate change concepts to become more real and provides the chance for students to see the impacts of climate change with their own eyes.
2. Local Relevance
In order to provide relevance for teachers and students, a local connection to the causes and/or impacts of climate change is critical to furthering concrete understanding. While glaciers may be a perfect setting for learning about climate change in Montana, students in Florida may best relate to a discussion on sea level rise. A local focus allows teachers to illustrate the effects on their respective bioregion in a way that will be most pertinent to their students.
3. Climate Content Expertise
Successful teacher trainings should include a presentation by local scientists to help teachers further their grasp on the basics of climate change science; thereby, increasing their ability to translate the information to students. These content experts provide a global outlook as well as a regional and local perspective of climate change, creating a more holistic understanding.
4 & 5. Teacher Planning Time and Resources
To increase the value of a teacher training, participants should be given focused, facilitated time to connect with their peers doing similar work as well as collaborate on ideas for lesson plans and service projects. It is also important to provide teachers with tangible, ready-to-use resources to take back to their classrooms such as curricula and other learning activities.
Every teacher training will include an evaluation to assess the effectiveness of the training and to allow educators to provide feedback on the professional development experience itself. The evaluation requires each grantee to set aside 30 minutes at the beginning of their training for a pre-training assessment and 30 minutes at the end for the post-training assessment. The survey/testing tools will be provided by NPF. In addition, each grantee will be required to assist in the recruitment of 2-4 trained teachers who will work with NPF’s evaluator to assess their students’ outcomes. Grantees will provide complete contact information for all trained teachers to the NPF evaluator for follow up, as well as completing interim and final reports. Evaluation is a critical component of PCC and grantees are expected to comply fully.