Clean Memphis Teaches Professional Development to COE Students

News Release

December 8, 2023

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The group Clean Memphis was in Ball Hall this past week for a multi-day professional development session with College of Education (COE) students to teach environmental science topics and how to integrate this into PreK-12 instruction.

COE ClassroomStudents were able to experience activities as their students would. Dr. Logan Caldwell with the COE says this allows future teachers to drive engagement in their students.

“Think Kindergarten. There are natural triangles in the environment. What can we spot that’s a triangle? Science is literally everywhere, and little kids LOVE nature and science things,” Caldwell said. “So, as teachers, we are doing a disservice by not tapping into this natural curiosity because we are unsure of ourselves as scientists.”

For the first day of the session, around fifty seniors from multiple COE degree paths: SPED, HDVC (early childhood), ESL/ELL (English Language Learner), etc. participated in activities like outside shape hunts, demonstrating low-risk and low-cast ways to incorporate environmental science into their lesson plans.COE student in classroom

“We are sensitive to the limited amount of science content that they can absorb in their undergraduate Education curriculum and help to deepen their understanding of our local environment and how they can incorporate nature, the outdoors, and environmental topics into any subject they teach,” said Michelle Cowan, Director of Education for Clean Memphis.

photo of textbookFor the second day, around half a dozen of those seniors took an additional step in the professional development, becoming certified in Project WILD, an environmental education program through the Association of Fisheries & Wildlife Agencies that trains educators on wildlife and habitat. The AFWA says the program has trained more than 1.5 million educators since beginning in 1983.

“It demonstrates to our preservice teachers how to use community resources and assets to connect classroom instruction to the outside world making the learning more meaningful and accessible for their students,” Caldwell said. “Furthermore, since the underlying content of this PD centers on our environment, this makes the learning extremely relevant to our undergraduates' personal lives.”