In the Summer of 2022, the Climate and Equity project hosted a group of 12 high-school teachers at a one-week, expenses-paid Climate and Equity Institute at the Schoodic Institute campus in Maine.
Teachers discussed equitable pedagogy, heard presentations about the global — and psychological — impacts of climate change, explored climate change impacts firsthand through guided field trips, plus had free time to pursue additional topics.
The Climate and Equity project plans to transform how climate and equity are taught by reducing teacher isolation and supporting collective growth. Some of the project’s anticipated outcomes were:
Sharing best practices for learning and teaching.
Becoming founders of a national network of colleagues.
Being inspired by conversations with scientists.
Exploring the inequitable impacts of climate change.
Enjoying the tranquility of the Maine woods and seashore.
Leaving with a renewed sense of hope and purpose about making a difference.
Teachers expressed their enthusiasm for the program and its goals. One participant said:
... the Climate and Equity institute was one of the best professional development opportunities I have attended (voluntarily or involuntarily). I really enjoyed the unique strategy of building out ways participants engaged learners in rural, urban, and suburban settings. I had never considered content knowledge or pedagogy from these perspectives collectively. As a result, I used a lot of time wondering, imagining, and reimagining climate and equity issues from perspectives I had never ever considered.
Thoughts from another participant about the institute’s impact on their local educational pursuits:
The overall experience during the week spent on climate and equity went above and beyond my expectations. The sequence of sessions was masterfully laid out. Concepts and background information was consistently and methodically built over the course of the week. By weeks end I not only had greater knowledge of the actions being taken and discussed within various communities, but also felt more grounded and confident in my pursuits to effect change in my local communities and school.
Teachers from all over the country attended the institute:
It was a fantastic opportunity and you chose our cohort so well, it’s uncanny. The learning and work we were able to accomplish was meaningful and directly applicable to the time. I came home brimming with inspiration and have been applying and expanding my knowledge base from where I left off when I returned home. The week in Maine forged life friendships and set me more firmly than I had been at making climate justice education my primary professional endeavor.
The institute promoted plans to transform how climate and equity are taught by reducing teacher isolation and supporting collective growth. Education about global warming, and its inequitable impacts, is urgently needed, yet teachers who address this need are isolated.
This was, in my opinion, a once in a lifetime experience. We have just finished our third week in school, and I feel so much better with respect to how I am managing the intense stress and strain of my school this year. Such a beautiful place to do beautiful work with amazing people with such diversity of ideas, and experiences! I am already using my new knowledge to shape what and how I teach about climate, equity, and also about civics.
The incidence of extreme climate impacts is increasing. Levels of eco-anxiety and existential dread related to global warming among youth are at record highs, and participating teachers felt they were supported in this area:
Opening day of sharing classroom resources and teaching styles was both enriching for classroom practice but also a great way to quickly get to know who the participants were.Each day had a good flow with new layers of the climate, justice equity landscape and it was fabulous to have some team time to work on something of value to us.I was hoping to bring home skills, insights and knowledge to share with my own students, especially my student leaders, but I wasn't expecting to personally benefit from it.I know I have carried a lot of climate anxiety and it feels so much more manageable as I prepare for a new school year.Thank you!!!!