Supporting The Efforts of Really Good Teachers
Teachers that are authentically committed to teaching about sustainability issues and make a lot of effort to design creative lesson plans and education activities deserve the best possible support.
Eliciting students' enthusiasm and motivation (all photos: Lynn Delbeecke).
A while ago, my 17-year old son was talking about school. He doesn’t always like school that much, but now it was striking to hear him talking about it in a different way than usual.
During some lessons, he said, he cannot stop watching the clock – not to count down how much longer he would have to suffer, but to see how much longer he had left to enjoy the lesson.
I was very surprised and wanted to know why. “These teachers make their lessons so interesting”, he said, and he talked about how they addressed topics that really matter, which doesn’t happen that often in school in his experience. And that they are just really good teachers.
When I asked what it is that makes them good teachers, he told me how he can see that they are truly interested in what they are teaching. He appreciates that they do not just follow the handbook and let the students fill in endless series of exercises, but that they create their own teaching materials and spend a lot of time to discuss the topics with the students.
I was so happy to hear this! Not only as a mother who is sometimes a bit worried about a teenage son heading to a bore-out, but also professionally. In our research, also in the SEAS project, we often work with such really good teachers. They are authentically committed to teaching about sustainability issues and make a lot of effort to creatively design lesson plans and education activities that include the students in a search for tackling these pressing societal challenges.
It looks like my son would love to be in their classes! However, we see these teachers sometimes struggling with all the demands from the curriculum, school inspection and national tests which make them uncertain about their way of teaching.
Next time I hear this I might tell them about my son’s story, because I really want to encourage them to go on in the way they do. To support teachers in this stimulating way of teaching, we use LORET – locally relevant teaching. Through a series of workshops, we offer didactic support for teachers to combine addressing real-world sustainability problems with meeting curriculum requirements.
To inspire and be inspired
The efforts of really good teachers deserve the best possible support. Therefore, we also strive for creating possibilities for teachers to inspire and be inspired by colleagues who share the same passion and commitment. To share experiences and materials. To save time by not having to re-invent the wheel over and over again.
But also to create connections and build a professional community that can counter-act the tendencies towards standardisation and reduction of teaching to just following recipes for practices prescribed by others.
The digital library for sharing lesson plans and teaching materials that is currently under development in the SEAS project will be very helpful for that. And since tools alone are never enough we are also starting up a dialogue with several organisations who want to collaborate on sustaining such a community beyond the duration of the SEAS project.
We will write more about that in future blog posts, but it is very encouraging to see so much shared care and commitment for the empowerment of one of the most beautiful and valuable professions in the world.
The SEAS blog focuses on current research and activities in the intersection between scientific literacy, open schooling and sustainability challenges when students collaborate with families and stakeholders from civil society and industry in becoming agents of community well-being.