This one goes out to the teachers…who are some of my biggest heroes. And that is in no way to diminish the herculean efforts of our first-responders, medical staff, and essential employees, who are risking their health to help. I am so grateful to everyone who isn’t putting their needs first, who realizes the gravity of the situation, and is showing up everyday to try and get this country back on its feet. Out of this group, I want to acknowledge the teachers, our partners in environmental education.
I’m biased. I have two sons in the Beloit public schools, my husband is a professor, and I have lots of friends who teach. I even considered becoming a biology teacher for a while, during my studies at Beloit College, but decided I didn’t have the stomach for the paperwork. It has been remarkable, this past month, to watch the efforts of educators completely redesign their pedagogy, move online, and develop distance learning with 2-weeks’ notice. (Below is an afterschool group from Todd Elementary, this past fall)
What I think is especially telling, is the fact that many of their discussions are centered on how to make students feel seen and cared for, in addition to how to share knowledge. The concern and empathy demonstrated by so many educators shows how this profession is more than just relaying information to young minds. Teachers are handing out sack lunches, driving through neighborhoods to wave, reading bedtimes stories, having Zoom lunches, hosting dance parties, leading yoga sessions, and spending hours and hours trying to recreate a learning environment without most of their favorite tools.
My goal for the organization is for us to become a go-to resource for teachers
When I joined the Welty staff in 2016, my underlying goal for the organization was to help us become a go-to resource for teachers. We are a center for informal learning and aren’t limited by test scores, grades, and reporting when we develop our programming. However, we design our field trip curriculum to meet state and national standards, so schools are assured science-based content, as well as the joy that comes from being in a beautiful outdoor setting. We work closely with the School District of Beloit to complement their classroom work and provide materials for the teachers to use as pre-trip, or follow-up lessons.
We are experimenting, too, since we can’t take a group of kids out in the forest to look for wildflowers or listen for owls. Our YouTube channel features content that could be used in a virtual lesson, and we’ve made a variety of nature how-tos on our facebook page. We continue to talk with our partners at schools and other service agencies, to figure out how we can best help them and their students. In the coming month(s), we hope to share some of those voices in this space, and let them speak to what inspires and fascinates them about nature, science, and teaching.
K-12, college-age youth are our future
K-12, college-age youth are our future, and I salute the folks helping them get to adulthood with compassion and dedication. I am grateful and in awe of the work they do, and hope you are, too. What will get us to the other side of this pandemic is cooperation and empathy, and our educators are a model for us to celebrate. Thank you, teachers, for everything you are doing and let us know how we can help!