Zoo Atlanta offers programs by teachers for teachers

11/15/2012  | 
Field Trip Destination

Imagine the old wooden schoolhouse of a century ago. Answering the call of a hand-rung bell, students entered schools that were often no larger than one room. They sat shoulder-to-shoulder with neighborhood kids of all ages and learning styles, and the quality of the education they earned while there relied directly on the effectiveness of one person: the teacher.

Times have certainly changed. Schools have changed, standards have changed, and even the bell has changed, but one constant remains. Responsibilities for education still fall to teachers, often without the level of community support their peers enjoyed 100 years ago.

The award-winning Education Team at Zoo Atlanta understands that teacher success and student success are inextricably linked. Programs created by educators for educators support and enrich the professionals committed to the academic success of a new generation.

Teacher Workshops at Zoo Atlanta

Professional development is essential to any career, but it’s difficult to actively look forward to long hours spent in workshops. What about a Teacher Workshop hosted in the home of more than 1,500 animals from around the world?

“For the first time, I actually had fun in an educational workshop. The wide range of activities was wonderful,” said one sixth grade teacher. “The Zoo Atlanta workshop was one of the best ones I’ve attended.”

The good news is that what’s fun is also practical. Zoo Atlanta education programs are designed with a commitment to STEM Georgia and are aligned with State Standards. Kindergarten to high school teachers can earn PLUs during Teacher Workshops, and in 2013, Zoo Atlanta proudly embarks on a new partnership with Bright from the Start to host two trainings for early childhood educators.

The benefits aren’t exclusive to Georgia; teachers from around the Southeast can use the Zoo’s grade-level curriculum packets and innovative suggestions for incorporating animals in the classroom. And while animal studies automatically suggest enhancement to biology or ecology classes, Teacher Workshops also send teachers back to school with creative new ways to integrate wildlife concepts into math, social studies and even language arts.

“The Zoo gave me practical ideas I can actually use,” said a second grade educator. “They’ll all be well utilized when I get back to my classroom.”

On the web

Teachers are encouraged to make frequent use of the Educator’s Lounge, an online resource available now on zooatlanta.org. The Educator’s Lounge features helpful grant writing tips, discounts, partnership offers, and classroom downloads just for educators.

2013 Teacher Workshops Bright from the Start: Growing up Wild January 19 Giant Pandas and the Asian Connection February 9 Exploring Ecosystems March 16 Animals across the Curriculum June 12 Project WILD and Project Learning Tree June 19 Learn more or register on www.zooatlanta.org

What about letting the kids go online, too? Teachers can make the most of students’ interests by engaging them in the forums they know best. Tune into one of the Zoo’s regular Google+ Hangouts on Air for a chance to let kids’ curiosities go wild on subjects like animal behavior, social structure or veterinary care.

At the Zoo

Of course, nothing illustrates Zoo concepts better than a visit, and field trips can and should be more than just a walk in the park with excited kids. Visit www.zooatlanta.org to download pre-and-post field trip activity guides that turn a two-hour visit into a full unit of study.

Not to suggest that teachers would ever want to leave their students behind, but if they have the opportunity, there are even more ways for educators to get involved at Zoo Atlanta year-round. Attend one of two biannual Educator Appreciation Days held in March and September, which offer free admission for teachers and discounted admission for accompanying family or friends. For a true walk on the wild side, spend the night in the Zoo. Get fellow educators together for Group NightCrawlers, and enjoy exclusive tours, animal encounters and a chance to network and brainstorm.

The old schoolhouses may have long since come down, but the school bell’s still ringing, and the pressure’s still on. Thanks to a dedicated team that understands, education programs at Zoo Atlanta make learning fun, practical and flexible for those who are doing the teaching — as well as those who are being taught.

For more information on Teacher Workshops and the many other educator resources available at Zoo Atlanta, visit www.zooatlanta.org or call 404-624-WILD to book a program today.
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