EARTHLABS: SUPPORTING TEACHER PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT TO FACILITATE EFFECTIVE TEACHING OF CLIMATE SCIENCE
We focus on the two-part teacher professional development component of the project in this presentation. The first part involves working with a small group of exemplary “teacher leaders.” The second part consists of summer workshops at which teacher leaders introduce high school teachers to three EarthLabs climate modules in Texas and Mississippi, and lead the professional development. The key elements for preparing teacher leaders are: (1) web-based support; (2) telephone conference calls; (3) face-to-face preparatory meetings; and (4) support for teacher leaders to participate in special activities that further promote their professional growth. Meetings three months in advance and one day prior to the summer workshops kept teacher leaders on the path toward becoming competent climate science instructors. Evaluation results for the summer workshops gauged teachers’ satisfaction with the EarthLabs modules, assessed the delivery of professional development, and monitored gains made by participants in understanding important climate concepts. The results document different participant responses to the workshop experience in the two states due to regional characteristics and participants’ previous experience with professional development and climate science content. In Texas, three graduate students with expertise in climate science partnered with teacher leaders to teach the workshops in summer 2013. Teachers loved their passion, appreciated their knowledge, and liked that they were closer in age to the high school students they teach.