It is now September of 2016 and the Regenerative Edge-ucation Collective is gearing up for another year of educational projects. We are getting ready for our second year of teacher training events for the Las Vegas valley that will begin in the next couple of weeks. Whole Foods has come through and partnered with Green Our Planet to make this all possible. Thank you Whole Foods and Green Our Planet for organizing this year's events!
We love bringing together our extended team to put on these trainings. All 8 of us work together to bring a quality experience that is tailored to each of the grade levels and also provide plenty of hands-on learning while demonstrating how to integrate Green Our Planet's garden curriculum. It is also important to note that with our last round of trainings Jessica Penrod did a great job seeing the online portion of the course through to the end. Teachers were sharing ideas all over the discussion boards and sent in short presentation on all those 66 projects. By completing the whole course teachers were able to earn one PDE credit from CCSD. It was great seeing teachers continue to share their projects and ideas online even after completing their training sessions.
My big input into this event is the Permacognition Workshop. The workshop basically organizes the trainees experience into a learning project. They set goals as garden educators with us as their mentors, research how to accomplish their garden projects, and follow the outline of the Permacognition framework to then go back to their schools and improve their gardens and community. Last year we had about 66 garden projects, both large and small, that resulted from our three trainings with over 100 students. Many of the teachers collaborated to accomplish their projects as a team. It is a big accomplishment to be able to empower so many people to take that first step towards becoming more engaged in their school's garden program. Some real change took place towards enhancing many of CCSDs school gardens from all over this valley through last spring's training. Some of the projects I remember off the top of my head include:
- Create Garden Signs to Label Plants
Build or improving Outdoor Classrooms (These participants were very enthusiastic and ready to make big changes!)
- Different Varieties of Seasonal Calendars
- Pamphlets and Brochures
- Presentations to Admin about how to improve garden programs
After the workshop the trainers and I had a chance to review our surveys from the participants and the comments were mostly positive. They all said things like it was great to have a step-by step tool to help them work through a project and that they were excited to leave with a project all planned out. There were a couple of comments that expressed ideas about not knowing how it related to gardening or that they didn't expect it or get it. I suppose it isn't the right tool for everyone or perhaps just not the right time for some to be learning about it. Here is one of my favorite positive comments we received from one of the teachers:
"My project was altered after completing the Permacognition Workshop. I found that the ideas that I had at the beginning of the workshop were scaled down by the reality of what I could accomplish in the time frame. I had too many things in mind and the workshop helped me to narrow those ideas down to what was achievable. It also allowed me to talk to my peers to ensure that what I was thinking about doing was not too overwhelming for the other teachers at my school. When our group settled on making a garden newsletter, I wanted to include so many things it would have been overwhelming to others. My group members helped me to see this and organize my ideas appropriately."
It is amazing what can be accomplished when working as a team. One of the most exciting aspects for me with this training, beyond seeing the enthusiasm from fellow teachers in the audience, was seeing the excitement and involvement unfold amongst the fellow trainers and organizers of the event. They were also able to experience the whole process and interact as mentors during the workshop. The workshop gave them an opportunity to experience it all at one time and perceive how this type of learning can build and develop communities.
We are hoping to maximize the effectiveness of the training even further this year and are restructuring the training into two night classes rather than one full day Saturday training. Splitting up the content should help teachers have more time to let all these new ideas sink in and also have some time to think about their projects and research while in the midst of learning all the new gardening content being shared. I will also step in earlier to have the Permacognition process become more apart of their learning experience from the very beginning. Some other improvements I hope to make with our 6 trainings this year relate to giving the teachers more tools to help them further collaborate in teams and to continue their collaborations throughout the entire school year. I am looking forward to meeting all of this year's participants and discovering what projects they will create for our local schools' garden programs!