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Teacher Training

Schools are now frequently looking outside their own institutions for professional guidance, and botanic gardens are increasingly focussing their education programmes on supporting classroom teachers. Consequently, this presents opportunities for botanic gardens to make valuable contributions to enhance teachers’ knowledge and understanding as well as to positively affect the values, belief and attitudes which these teachers will pass on to their pupils.

The provision of a botanic garden based In-Service Teacher Training (INSET) which truly makes a difference for the better needs to have carefully considered aims and a clear purpose. In a changing educational climate where there are many competing demands on teachers, appropriate professional help is difficult to identify. Research in the UK indicates that teachers want programmes that are practical in nature, giving them models and activities that they can easily apply to their everyday work. It also indicates that teachers appreciate INSET which takes place outside the school, giving them a chance to stand back from the normal workplace.

The articles below investigate a few of the many types of INSET programmes that are currently being offered, focus on strategies for planning teacher training provision, target some issues associated with public garden education and highlight ways of linking teacher training with curriculum requirements.
(Ailene Isaf, Editorial, Roots (11))

People and Plants: Training Darwin Mentors

Partnership ventures for grass-root level environmental education in the biodiversity rich parts of India are relatively few and new. A two year (2001-2003) collaborative project entitled People and Plants - Training Darwin Mentors, sponsored by the Darwin Initiative for the Survival of Species U.K., was recently launched at Kodaikanal Botanic Garden in the Palni Hills of the south Western Ghats by the Botanic Gardens Conservation International, UK and the Centre for Biodiversity and Biotechnology, St Xavier's College, Palayamkottai.

This paper describes the project, the partnerships formed, the challenges and the outcomes to date.

Evaluation Gets Results!

In this paper, the results and consequences of a comprehensive evaluation of the Natural Science Institute for Elementary Teachers at the Missouri Botanical Garden are described. This teacher training project utilised a combination of formative and summative evaluations, science knowledge pre- and post-tests, surveys, personal interviews, and activity logs to evaluate the four objectives of the project and to answer a series of specific questions. The evaluation lead to additional funding for teacher training programmes, and to fundamental changes in the nature of teacher training programmes at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Teacher Capacity Building: Skills Development Through Environmental Education

The Pretoria and Witwatersrand National Botanical Gardens, with funding from UNESCO, are embarking on a two year teacher development programme to provide professional development for 210 teachers from the under resourced and historically disadvantaged schools in Gauteng Province, South Africa.