It's easy to have a romantic notion of teaching. And, indeed, inspiring the next generation of ocean leaders can be invigorating and inspirational. But ask any teacher: it's also a lot of hard work. That's why, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, we're so committed to helping them succeed.
With your support, we're able to offer free professional development programs for teachers focused on the latest ocean science, use of technology in conservation education and best practices to engage students in science learning and conservation activities.
Many say the Aquarium has helped them re-engage and reconnect with students in ways they hadn't imagined. They return to their classrooms with a new sense of energy and purpose.
Consider Rachel Hitchcock, who teaches fourth- and fifth-grade science at Amesti Elementary School in Watsonville, California. Rachel loved immersing herself in nature as part of the Aquarium's teacher programs. Rachel has attended several of the Aquarium's teacher programs over the years, including our Coastal Systems Teacher Institute. As part of the programs, she spent plentiful time tidepooling, and even got to go kayaking on nearby Elkhorn Slough.
Thanks to the Aquarium's teacher programs, Rachel learned how to better integrate technology with science learning. "I just completed a project with my fourth graders that started with the simple question: 'How healthy is our schoolyard?'" she says. "We used iPads to collect data and make meaning of it. The students noticed in some instances there was trash right next to the trash can, or in certain areas there was no trash can. Then they learned to present the data and relate it to an action that should be taken, like adding cans or lids in certain areas.
"Technology was my weakest point," Rachel says. "It moves so fast. But that was a big part of the institutes—feeling more comfortable with tech."
With your support, we can help thousands more hardworking educators like Rachel.
At a time when funding for our public schools is woefully inadequate, it's urgent that we support teachers—our most critical partners—who are inspiring the next wave of ocean leaders each and every day.