Natural Curiosity had the opportunity to get to know one of this year's National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions Grosvenor Teacher Fellows, Ellie Clin, and ask her about teaching, her philosophy and the wonderful environmental inquiry opportunities she has on the horizon.
Why did you decide to be a teacher?
I became a teacher because I’ve always loved the sense of wonder that comes with learning something new. The Master of Arts program at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study was a perfect fit for me in that way, because I came to see how a career in teaching could satisfy my own thirst for learning just as much as that of my students. I completed the program in 2010 and have been teaching in the Toronto District School Board ever since. I am currently teaching a split Grade 1 and 2 class at the Grove Community School in downtown Toronto.
Can you describe for us your teaching philosophy and the role that inquiry and environmental education takes within that?
Curiosity, discovery, and critical thinking are integral to my teaching philosophy and the classroom culture I strive to create. The inquiry process is perfect for the type of learning I want to inspire within my students, and environmental education is a natural extension of that. Whether rearing endangered monarch butterflies, planting native species in our school garden, or participating in community action projects to reduce storm drain pollution, our learning is always centred around the students’ questions.
As one of the National Geographic and Lindbald Expeditions Grosvenor Teacher Fellows, what opportunities and experiences will you receive?
This is an amazing field-based professional development opportunity for K-12 educators to make expeditions to incredible natural environments such as Arctic Svalbard, Greenland, and the Galapagos Islands. As for me, I’ll be going on an expedition to Antarctica in December with two other educators. On board, the Fellows will learn everything we can about the region from Lindblad Expeditions naturalists, photographers, and researchers, so that we can take that learning back to share with our students. National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions also support us through a pre-expedition workshop, opportunities to plan lessons with other Grosvenor Teacher Fellows, and ongoing virtual meet-ups. More information can be found at: NatGeoEd.org/gtf
What are you hoping to learn and how are you hoping to implement these things into your classroom?
Needless to say, I am so excited for this amazing experience, and the opportunities I will have to share it with my students for years to come. Although I can’t guarantee I’ll have Internet access while onboard the ship, I will be blogging and tweeting my experience throughout this fellowship on social media for my students - and you! - to follow along with me (www,penguinlearners.com & @penguinlearners). I have a wealth of possibilities in mind to implement this learning in my classroom, including artistic collaborations, student-driven fundraising efforts to buy-back my trip’s carbon offsets, and media projects. However, in the spirit of true inquiry-based learning, I’ll be waiting until I better know my students’ ideas and questions before we embark on this journey together and see where our learning takes us.