EEAC News

3/1/2008

Teacher Environmental Education Preparation

Since 1999, EEAC has been involved in a statewide initiative called Teacher Environmental Education Preparation (TEEP) with partner organizations Council on the Environment of New York City and the Wallerstein Collaborative for Urban Environmental Education at New York University. TEEP has hosted five symposia throughout New York State that focused on ways to increase environmental education in the preparation of new teachers. Two major strategies came out of these symposia:

  • The development of a statewide center for environmental education.
  • The development of one or more innovations in the teacher certification structure to bring it in line with State Standards, such as a certification from the State Department of Education or cognate in environmental education at teacher preparation institutions.

As a result of TEEP, the College of New Rochelle is working on creating a cognate (think of it as a minor or a series of courses in environmental education) in environmental education. Professors are creating the curriculum for the cognate this year. In addition, the National Project for Excellence in Environmental Education, initiated by the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), created Guidelines for the Preparation and Professional Development of Environmental Educators.

Over the last five years, NAAEE has worked with these standards and with one of the main accreditation organizations for teacher preparation, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, to create standards for the Initial Preparation of Environmental Educators. These standards have been approved by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and any teacher education institution accredited by NCATE will have to follow these standards for all of their environmental education classes. These standards apply to the entire university, not just the school of education. For example, if an environmental education course is offered through the school of natural resources, it must still meet these standards.

What do these new standards mean for TEEP? It is hoped, things will get easier! There are 47 NCATE-accredited teacher education institutions in the state of New York and almost half of them are in the New York metropolitan area! To view the new NCATE standards, visit www.naaee.org and search on "NCATE."

On February 29 and March 1, 2008, the sixth TEEP symposium will take place at the State University of New York - Brockport campus in Rochester. On the first day, Dr. Bora Simmons, the lead person for NAAEE on the new NCATE environmental educator standards, will take participants through the new standards. After Dr. Simmons's presentation, there will be a roundtable discussion about what these standards mean for teacher education faculty and what challenges they might face while incorporating these standards. A panel will feature several colleges and universities and the work that they are already doing to incorporate environmental education in teacher preparation.

The second day of the symposium will be dedicated to providing professional development in environmental education to participants. This will take the form of a half-day Project WET (Water Education for Teachers) workshop and focus on how to include environmental education in methods courses.

If you are interested in additional information about TEEP and the symposium, please contact: Kathleen Oliver, TEEP Coordinator, kathleen.oliver@nyu.edu, (212) 992-9362.