IWMP ToT on Introduction to Ecosystems

On February 14-15, 2013, AEN and Green Lane NGO conducted the first Training of Teachers (ToT) within the framework of the “Integrated Waste Management Project” in Berd.

The goals set forth for the training were to:

  • Design a Teachers’ Guide on “Introduction to Ecosystems and Waste Management” for the 5th, 8th and 10th grade pupils in Berd schools,
  • Present the Socratic Method that will create student-centered classrooms and,
  • Practice the methodology with activities that foster a better understanding of the subject.

The Teachers’ Guide is divided into two parts – “Introduction to Ecosystems” and “Waste Management” (the latter will be introduced during the 2nd ToT in March). While designing the guide we took into account that before understanding the vital importance of proper waste management, people should first of all understand their environment. That is why we devoted half of the guide to introducing ecosystems and key ecological concepts.  In order to understand why they should carry out waste management, people in Berd should know what impact they have on the environment and why/how they should protect it. Activities were developed as part of the Teachers’ Guide to provide the teachers with opportunities to better understand the information about ecosystems using creative thinking and introduced methodologies. We also modeled one of the activities in the Guide – the “Web of Life” game – that reveals the concept of connectivity, displaying how each living thing in an ecosystem relies on other living things to survive.

The educational material was designed so as to be applicable in classrooms without any difficulty as its application doesn’t depend on computers. Although few schools in Berd are equipped with computers, most pupils, as well as teachers, do not have them at home, thus they also face the issue of Internet access. In this respect the Teachers’ Guide is very useful and provides essential knowledge and tips necessary for fostering a green environment and protecting it properly.

There were 10 teachers involved in the ToT who were eager to cooperate with us to help Berd and its inhabitants to have a greener community. We practiced together the Socratic method and found it to be of great help for creating student-centered classrooms as teachers somehow were generally unfamiliar with the main tools and skills of practicing it. It was very productive for them to design their “mini lesson plans” using the Socratic Method and practicing it in pairs, as well as in front of the whole group. The teachers agreed that the method will be very helpful for creating student-centered classrooms.

At the end of the training, the participating teachers were asked to evaluate one another anonymously, creating an open and constructive setting for discussion and self-improvement. The participants appreciated the Teachers’ Guide and are eager to practice it in their classes. We believe that their expectations were mainly met – they were introduced to a new methodology and practiced it in order to lead the lessons not only theoretically but pragmatically as well. It is easy to cooperate when there is willingness and commitment to bring positive changes to the community. Thus the teachers expressed their readiness to participate in the next ToT trainings that will be held in March, 2013.

Photos courtesy of Green Lane NGO