A partnership between our staff and Marlborough District Council (MDC) saw a traditional teachers’ workshop evolve into something a little bit special this year. Community Ranger Wendy Sullivan explains how Marlborough students taught their teachers a thing or two about conservation.
Over the last two years, with assistance from MDC Enviroschools facilitators Annie McDonald and Anna Crowe, we’ve been running annual teaching workshops at Momorangi Bay. The workshops cover conservation education activities using a range of teaching and learning resources. However, due to difficulties in getting teachers to attend, numbers had been low with only 8-12 teachers signing up. Despite low numbers feedback was always positive so we knew it was an outcome worth pursuing.
This year, Marlborough District Council were able to fund teacher release to enable more staff the time to attend. This meant we no longer had to squeeze workshops into the teachers’ school holidays. The most exciting development was these changes meant having the help of year 7 and year 8 students from Bohally Intermediate, who were coached by Anna and Annie to teach the activities from the Habitat Heroes resource kits to the teachers.
Part of the Enviroschools kaupapa is to support environmental leadership among students, so what better opportunity than a teachers workshop! The idea of “telling off the teachers for not paying attention” greatly appealed to the students, however on the day they took their task seriously and behaved very professionally. As well as giving the students an opportunity to undertake environmental leadership, it also demonstrated to teachers how easy the activities were to lead.
Despite the heavy rain, 19 teachers from 11 schools had nothing but praise for the workshop, and facilities, and loved being taught by the students.
Collaborating with the Enviroschool facilitators enabled our staff to learn from the education rangers immensely, due to their teaching experience, their understanding of the curriculum, their contacts within the schools, and their ability to use resources not available to our staff, such as the release funding. The Enviroschools facilitators also appreciate the ability to team up with our staff, as it gives them an opportunity to share skills and expertise, and reach multiple schools in one event.
The teachers’ workshop was a great success, with a number of different initiatives coming together to provide a unique package for conservation education. More teachers now know about our education resources, and feel more comfortable in using them. The final outcome will hopefully be greater conservation messages and understanding in Marlborough schools.