“Out of the Classroom, Out in Community, Outside the Box”
The goal of Teach ME Outside is to support and work in partnership with Maine communities to ensure that all Maine youth have access to powerful, hands-on environmental learning opportunities. Building on the results of the 2019 Census of Community-Based Environmental Learning, this initiative will focus on reducing barriers and sharing creative community-designed solutions to increase schools’ and organizations’ ability to implement community-based environmental learning (CBEL). This collaborative effort will also increase opportunities for professional learning, data sharing, systemic reform, networking, and partnership support.
Specific initiatives include:
- Convening listening sessions across Maine to hear feedback directly from educators about how to address barriers and support CBEL in their diverse settings in both the short and long-term
- Engaging in outreach to expand and deepen the network of educators and organizations connecting youth to their environment and communities
- Visualizing Census data and networks across Maine using digital tools that connect educators with community partners and resources to advance CBEL
- Developing open-source professional learning opportunities for educators
- Developing an Evaluation Collaborative to support evaluation of CBEL projects and track field-wide impact over time
- Building long term systems-level support for CBEL in Maine
Professional Learning Advisory Group
We are accepting applications until May 27, 2020 for the Professional Learning Advisory Group to discuss and design professional learning opportunities for Maine educators. For more information, please see this information sheet. This opportunity is currently closed, please stay tuned for professional learning materials that are in development by this group.
We are accepting applications until July 17, 2020 for the Environmental Education Evaluation Collaborative to discuss evaluation needs for the field in Maine. For more information, please see this information sheet. You can apply for this opportunity using this form. If you would like to learn more about either of these opportunities or have questions, please contact Bethany Humphrey at firstname.lastname@example.org
Why This Work Matters
When educators and communities design and implement community-based environmental learning programs there are broad and lasting benefits for youth. In addition to achieving the ultimate goal of a more environmentally literate, engaged population, CBEL has been shown to have the following positive impacts:
- Increases students’ motivation and interest in learning by engaging them in participatory activities and drawing connections between classroom content and the real world
- Improves standardized test scores and assists educators with meeting K-12 benchmarks
- Serves as an “equalizer” among students with different learning abilities and styles by allowing educators to cater to multiple students’ needs
- Enhances critical thinking, leadership, and collaboration skills that can help students succeed in the 21st century
- Empowers students to become engaged citizens and make a difference in their community
Community-Based Environmental Learning in Maine
A recent landscape analysis recognizes that Maine provides a wealth of CBEL initiatives for youth, both in and outside of school. But, many of these initiatives work in isolation from other similar programs, lack resources or training, and do not measure the impact of the educational experiences they offer. In addition, there are areas of the state that are underrepresented in CBEL.
Findings from the Census include:
- Educators highlighted extended programming as the most impactful to their students, yet short-term experiences are most commonly used across schools and organizations
- Schools with high Free and Reduced Lunch eligibility report more significant challenges to implementing CBEL
- Partnerships are directly correlated to best-practice aligned programming
- Educators had clear needs for professional development support and structures to support continued professional growth
Teach ME Outside builds on the collaborative work of many different organizations and individuals over the past decade and is led today by a partnership between the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, Maine Environmental Education Association, and Nature Based Education Consortium. This project is made possible with support from the Pisces Foundation and the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation.
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