from Callister, Jamogochian, Lemos, Weddle, & Yoder (2010) – Community-based Education: Model Programs. Northwest Center for Sustainable Resources.
This top-ten list of advice from Jon Yoder may be of assistance for teachers just beginning to integrate environmental literacy into their classroom:
- Start small and find other teachers interested in doing a community project. Support and collaboration are critical for success as you begin this work.
- Don’t let issues such as transportation and funding stand in your way. Be creative and persistent and employ the resources of your community.
- Getting to know community partners is a must, so be prepared to make calls and meet with potential partners. They are often more than willing to work with you and may have resources you can use.
- Make sure that your class does not become a work crew. The work you do should be the work of your partner. This is not a field trip or guest presentation, but joining the authentic work of your partner.
- Be organized and plan ahead. You can never foresee all possibilities, but being organized helps you become more successful with students and partners.
- Promote the program. It is not about you but about the students and their capacity to serve as a resource for their community
- Involve students in the selection of their work and in designing their products. This may be the first time they have some control over their learning. It can be empowering for them.
- As your work expands, think of ways that the program can sustain itself when you are no longer there.
- Do not worry about having to know the content or being in charge of direct instruction. You will become a facilitator and instruction comes from the community partner and the curriculum resources you organize. One of the great joys of this approach is that you often get to learn along with your students. Sometimes they can even teach you. The teacher is no longer the “sage on the stage,” but instead is the “guide on the side.”
- Remember it is about community! The work students do needs to have a context to it. They should come out of their study with a clear understanding of what their community is, how it can function, and possible roles for them to participate. Do not forget that this approach also fosters community building within the classroom and students become reconnected to themselves and to each other.