Some people dream of success...while others wake up and work hard at it.
Let me start by bragging about my amazing students - we recently attended our regional Envirothon and took home first place trophies in 5/6 categories, a win for our county, and won the overall event with the highest score. Our regional event has six categories: Forestry, Soil, Aquatics, Wildlife, Indian River Lagoon and a current issue (Urban Forestry). We entered six teams and four of them placed. I could not be more proud of the effort my students put forth in preparing for this event, their professionalism while at the event, and their knowledge of environmental science. It got me thinking about effort, professionalism, and the importance of environmental science.
Today I was gossiping with a colleague about another colleague. Not my best moment. My students have many "not my best moments" every day. You know, the days they curse during a conversation with you, forget to do their homework, make a disparaging remark about another teacher, vent their frustration over an administrative policy, interrupt you in the middle of something important, do the exact opposite of what you asked them to, and so on. We all make poor choices, saying or doing things we wish we hadn't, but when it matters most, who are we? I like to think when it matters most I have my best moments, without reservations, I can say my students had a best moment when it mattered most and it impressed me. My students exhibited professional behavior that many adults would have found difficult in similar circumstances. They showed a maturity in winning that was admirable, they didn't gloat and they applauded whole heartedly for the other teams at the event. They interacted courteously and amiably with event organizers and participants. So, a gentle reminder during someone's "not best moment" might be a highly effective means of insuring a best moment when it matters most. And teachers, it never hurts to admit when maybe you could've have done something differently or better, after all, that's a teachable moment, so teach professionalism, it's a key 21st century skill that will always benefit the learner (and maybe you as well).
Lastly, my students documented their knowledge of environmental science (oh let this be an oracle for the APES exam). On the one hand 30 students participated on our team, representing 12% of our high school student body. What about the other 88%? What is their environmental science know-how? I've got 30 wonks, but I'm pretty worried about the other 220. When are we going to require environmental science education for all students? We've been teaching Biology, Chemistry and Physics (although that number is dwindling thanks to few qualified teachers and even fewer interested students) for over a hundred years, but the world is changing and it's time to rethink what courses we require of students. We've entered the anthropocene period, a time of globalization, a 6th mass extinction, and a changing climate. Perhaps we should prepare our students? Not just the students that are already forward-thinking enough to enroll in an environmental science course, but all students so we can develop future leaders by teaching them the value of effort and professionalism in conjunction with content knowledge through innovative teaching and learning strategies with a real-world application.
So share your thoughts on environmental science, is it time to require it? What are the benefits of teaching environmental science? What topics do you think are crucial for today's students to explore? Put in a little effort, keep it professional and join the conversation.