Promoting Professional Development and Best Practice in EE
Becoming an Effective Environmental Educator: A Commitment to Competence
The need for professional development in environmental education (EE) was first formally addressed by the federal government when the 1990 Environmental Education Act was passed. Various learning opportunities were created to meet this need. Today, many environmental educators believe EE’s star is rising—and that now is the time to invest in professional development. Their reasons are as varied as the available activities. Some environmental educators want to deepen content knowledge or to learn teaching strategies that reach diverse audiences. Others seek a credential so that the field (and others outside it) will take them more seriously. Still others choose to be lifelong learners in a field they love. For each purpose, there is a path, one that begins with an honest self-assessment, measured against the six themed competencies listed in the Guidelines for the Preparation and Professional Development of Environmental Educators. This article describes what it means to be a competent environmental educator and the various paths individuals have taken toward that goal. The article also profiles three individuals who share how professional development has benefitted them in their work. Finally, the article offers considerations for deciding which kinds of professional development are a good fit and resources for creating a professional development plan.