Supporting Environmental Educators Toolkit
Supporting Environmental Educators
“We are all in this together.”
Ultimately, we want to blur the lines (between formal and informal, indoor and outside, home and school, school and community, etc.) to increase equitable access to a spectrum of educational experiences that support environmental literacy, healthy communities, a healthy environment, and racial and social justice.
Short-term Priority: Getting schools to reopen successfully is critical for us to get back to operating successfully.
- How can we as environmental educators support schools in reopening?
- How can we ensure that environmental education is an integral component of education when schools do reopen?
Overall Strategy: National level guidance + Local action + Coordinated advocacy
What can you do as an EE professional?
- Continue to communicate during the crisis. Acknowledge that we are facing multiple crises (pandemic, climate, racism). Issues are interconnected, we can’t just stay in our lanes (e.g., intersection of racial equity, equity of access, infrastructure and resource challenges).
- Communicate the importance of outdoor learning as a strategy for accomplishing the goal of reopening schools (i.e. a potential solution).
- NAAEE and members of its Affiliate Network created the eeGuidance document, which presents information and strategies for how community-based environmental and outdoor education programs can help schools to equitably reopen during and after the Covid-19 crisis, and
- a toolkit for how to get the word out about the document.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics has called for in-person learning this fall, both from an equity and a learning perspective. This, however, is challenging during a time of COVID, given social distance space requirements. Highlight the benefits that our EE community can provide, including:
- Expertise in creating outdoor learning environments and knowledge of the benefits of the outdoors (reduction in stress, and greater mental and physical health)
- Physical space (in some cases, schools may be able to partner with nearby nature centers, museums, and other facilities to extend their physical space)
- Curriculum support for virtual and in-person learning: engaging project-based activities, interdisciplinary learning, critical thinking skills, standards alignment, etc
- Reach out to your local school(s)/district(s). Connect with administrators, teachers, and/or parents to offer potential solutions and strategies.
- If you have the capacity and personal connections, reach out to local leaders and media to drum up support for how the EE and outdoor education community can help support reopening plans[MOU1] .
- Show what you can bring to the table.
- Physical capacity (e.g., classroom space in nature centers, museums, etc. that schools could use). Most schools have only 60% of the space they need for appropriate social distancing.
- Curriculum support (for Math, ELA as well as Science, Environmental Literacy, etc.)
- Expertise in designing outdoor educational activities that help meet state and federal learning requirements
- Using educator support on school grounds and in virtual learning
- Expertise in using outdoor spaces for learning, including an understanding of physical safety requirements for students
- Look at opportunities for innovative partnerships and new ways of doing things.
- How can we use school grounds and think about them differently to expand capacity of schools to serve students?
- What is the role of parks and public spaces?
- How can learning at home play a role in school reopening (e.g., distance and hybrid learning)? Illustrate how you can support this necessity for schools to reopen
- You are part of a larger community of environmental education professionals, regardless of your employment status.
- You can find connections, resources, collaboration, and support through eePRO, NAAEE Affiliates, etc.
- Lawrence Hall Policy Brief
- Page 2 – Benefits of EE (and references on Page 8)
- Page 6 – Partnering with schools
- Green Schoolyards America – Innovative use of outdoor spaces
- EEWorks – Research on benefits of EE to in K-12 education
- Blue Sky Funders Forum research briefs on education, health, youth development, conservation outcomes of EE
- eePro – Resources and community for EE professionals
- Rethink Outside Messaging Brief – How to communicate in a crisis (pages 1-6), tested language to highlight the importance of meaningful outdoor learning (page 10), examples of use of the shared narrative
- NAAEE EE Guidance for Reopening Schools
- Examples of how EE is already supporting opening (Coming Soon)
Billy Spitzer (NNOCCI), with input from Kirk Anne Taylor (Ten Strands), Katie Navin (CAEE), Anupama Joshi (Blue Sky Funders Forum), and Melissa Taggart (NAAEE).