Science and Teaching for Field Instructors

Oops! How I Wish We Hadn’t Introduced BEETLES to Staff, and What We’re Doing Now

From Paul Raia, the Director of Caritas Creek Environmental Education Program, Occidental California

After attending a BEETLES Institute, I was extremely excited about implementing BEETLES, and my work partner and I decided that we wanted to completely transform our program to being BEETLES-based as quickly as possible. During our next staff training, we attempted to share our enthusiasm. We presented four BEETLES professional learning sessions in a one-week training session and told staff they needed to use one BEETLES student lesson per hike, Monday–Thursday (it’s a Monday–Friday program).

Our enthusiasm wasn’t shared by staff. [Our approach] was too much, too fast, and a number of staff became resistant to the changes. Staff also complained about the professional learning sessions, which kept them indoors more than they were used to. So we decided to pull back on professional learning sessions and on the speed of change. Currently, we do one BEETLES professional learning session per season. We still require that instructors use one BEETLES lesson per day.

Our Site Directors do “What Scientists Do” on pre- and post-class visits. They bring crazy cool nature objects with them. This is going very well. All staff are required to do I Notice, I Wonder, It Reminds Me Of and Hand Lens Introduction on Monday’s “New Discoveries Hike.” We integrate lots of discussion routines throughout each hike. We use an unpublished draft of the BEETLES Planning a Themed Hike: Ecosystems, Matter and Energy as a framework for our Tuesday “Connection Hikes” and the BEETLES Planning a Themed Hike: Adaptations for our Thursday “Change Hikes.” Wednesday’s “Ocean Hike” lends itself to many BEETLES activities. Instructors have now become excited about using BEETLES materials, and BEETLES educational philosophy and lessons are becoming more enculturated into the Caritas Program.

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