Teaching Great Teachers – A Day at the Zoo



♪♪
(Animal Sound effects) Guide: I did want to touch base
on our elephants. We have four. Three females and one male. Amali is estimated
to be between 7 to 9, she's a very young elephant,
you can see it when you're close to her… Christina: It's a sunny
day at Fresno's Chaffee Zoo… and this tour group is
soaking up as much information as they can
on a special behind- the- scenes tour. Guide: So they
came from Swaziland. Swaziland is experiencing
a very extreme drought…. Christina: Everyone on
this tour is a middle school science teacher. They come from different
schools and different backgrounds. But they all share one thing
in common: A desire to be the best teacher
they can be. Elizabeth: The Fresno County
Office of Education has been visiting our zoo for
about five years now. They come out and hold
workshops in our Simba classroom here in
our African Adventure. They get to spend a couple
of days working together, teachers helping teachers
just become better teachers for the community. Christina: Four
times a year, these teachers come together
to sharpen their teaching skills as part of a
Professional Learning Community, also
called a P-L-C. Jennifer: It's a group of
teachers who all teach the same subjects coming
together and working and learning together. Nat full of Jennifer
teaching the teachers Jennifer: This year I have
200 teachers participating, seventh through
twelfth grade. And that accounts for 13
different counties that are outside of Fresno. People will drive up to
two to three hours to come. And they go back and then
train the rest of their seventh grade. So the outreach, the
ripple effect for this, is hundreds and hundreds
more than come here. Christina: Being a part
of a professional learning community is especially
important for teachers like Nikki Luckin and
Natalee Geary, who both work in
rural school districts. Nikki: I am by
myself in the classroom. I am the only science
teacher on our K-8 campus, so I didn't have
anyone to get ideas from. I can remember sitting at
the board and being like "okay" you know trying to
get ideas down and I'm like "I have nothing." And I have no one to
turn to on campus. So here I have a lot
of people to turn to. Natalee: So I gave them
pictures like this and they had to identify
what the relationship was. Natalee: We always joke
around when they say collab with your district. I'm like, "Hey.
Me, myself, and I. Here I am."
You know? It's really hard to think
of things on your own uh, when usually there are
bigger districts that have 10 to 12 people coming up
with their new material, which is really
hard for me to do. Christina: The workshops
cover everything from new science standards to
building a good lesson plan. Today, the teachers
are talking about visual note-taking. It's a way to help their
students better retain information, using
colors and drawings. Nat full: What I see
happening in classrooms is students have
their notebooks out, and on their device they
can filter through images as they're trying to
take their visual notes. Christina: Teachers in
this professional learning community say they
come away with real, concrete ideas that they
can put to use immediately. Erica: I have never left
one of these meetings with wondering "How am I
gonna incorporate this?" Every time I've left
a PLC it's been "How soon can I put this
into my lessons?" I cannot wait to show my
kids what I learned today. I am emailing teachers
during the trainings of "look what I just
found out about, look what I just learned,
check out this website." There has not been a single
moment of these PLCs that has not been beneficial. Maribel: Just talking to
other people and getting to hear their ideas has
just been an eye opening experience. I mean, the way I present
science now is so different than before. My views of how to teach
the science has really been transformed. Before it was a lot of
direct instruction and now it's more
student-centered. Christina: Each
workshop is eight hours. They're paid for by the
teacher's home district. Most workshops take place
at Fresno County's outdoor education site. But once a year, teachers
are giddy with excitement as they gather at the zoo. Jennifer: The teachers
love the zoo day. It's the thing they
look forward to out of the whole
four times we meet. It kinds of remind them
that they were all science people to
begin with, right? And that reinforces their
love for science and nature when they come out here. Plus, they get to go behind
the scenes and see things that the public doesn't. Erica: Today I got to go to
the behind-the-scenes areas of the elephant exhibit
and the lion exhibit. And that is
something that is amazing. I could take back to the
school immediately and tell my kids about it. Get them excited about it. But more importantly, it
makes me excited to be a teacher. It makes me excited
to teach the things that I get to teach. Jonathan: We were able to
see individual housing for these animals,
if they are ill, if they're birthing, if they
just need to rest and get away, if we have
inclement weather, uh, a place they can
go for a safe place. It's also a chance for us to
see how they deal with the health of these animals
making sure that they're safe, examinations,
medical needs, that go on. Christina: The Fresno
Zoo also benefits from the partnership. They hope these
teachers will inspire a new generation of
animal lovers… through school field trips or
close-up animal encounters. Elizabeth: For our programs,
onsite and offsite, we do see about 25,000
students every year, and about 100,000 come to
the zoo outside of that. So, we're a pretty
busy place for school, school groups to come. ♪♪ Christina: Many of these
teachers have been a part of a Professional
Learning Community for years. Nikki Luckin signed up for
the first workshop seven years ago…and hasn't
missed a year since. Nikki: I'm the type of
person that always wants to do really well at her job
and this has given me a place that I can improve
myself and make myself better and it's just
such a valuable tool. I wouldn't be the teacher I
am today without this PLC. Erica: Teachers
need other teachers. This is not a, a profession
where you can be a one- man show. You can't be a soloist here. And the thing that I love
most is that we all have different perspectives. We work with different kids. We have different
dynamics for our teaching. We have different years
of teaching experience. And when you put all of
that together it makes this beautiful cohesive unit of
teachers who are sharing strategies and ideas and
methods and lesson plans. And it makes us
all better teachers. I absolutely
adore this program. Annc: In a national
survey, high school students described the best teachers
as those with whom they can build a trusting
relationship. They also say great teachers
are patient and kind, passionate about
what they do, and understand that
different students learn in different ways.

1 thought on “Teaching Great Teachers – A Day at the Zoo”

  1. gumption conjunction, what's your umption? like if its unction conjunction, comment if its lunction umption

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