|Environmental Education in the Schools (Peace Corps, 1993)|
|Making an environmental education program work|
Research has shown that when teachers are introduced to new materials in a workshop and have an opportunity to ask questions, practice using the materials with their colleagues, and develop new lesson plans based on the materials, they will be more likely to use the materials in the future. Workshops designed to introduce new materials can also help motivate teachers especially when good teaching materials are scarce. That's why it's so critical to think about how the materials will be implemented in the beginning stages of a project and to work out funding for in-service and pre-service workshops. If possible, ask the teachers who were involved in the pilot testing and the teachers who helped create the materials in the first place to help conduct the training. Also, think about incentives for both the trainers and the teacher participants.
The length of a training workshop depends on the complexity of the materials and the abilities of the teachers who will be using them. If you are introducing a new curriculum, you might need to spend several days to a week to train teachers how to use the materials. For supplementary materials or smaller projects, you might be able to introduce the materials in shorter amounts of time.
You might also want to consider workshops that train teachers to be trainers. By training one teacher from each region to train teachers in other schools, you can help stimulate teachers' professional growth and interest while ensuring the effective implementation of the program throughout the country. You might also want to introduce new materials at teacher training colleges and universities.
There are many ways to design a training program. (See ICE manual for tips about training teachers.) But it's important to make the workshop an active, hands-on experience that complements the materials you are trying to implement. In addition to explaining goals and objectives and demonstrating activities and techniques, it's important to include sessions that help teachers who are used to lecturing 100% of the time feel more comfortable with small group activities, cooperative learning, and discovery learning. Also think about a follow-up to the workshop and establishing a mechanism for teachers to evaluate the materials, comment on them, and share problems, concerns, and successes.