Climate Voices

May 23, 2022
By: Seth Spencer, Teach Climate Network Coordinator

Teach Climate Network: Building Self Efficacy and Shared Power

Teach Climate Network: Building Self Efficacy and Shared Power - Photo

Action towards climate change solutions has been a target of disinformation in recent years, but education has the power to equip students with the knowledge and resources to understand the evidence-based science behind climate change and take action. When searching for solutions to an issue as complex as climate change, it takes a community with a shared mission and a clear vision of how to build self efficacy and shared power.

The Teach Climate Network was created with a vision of connecting and empowering educators around North America with the resources and opportunities to be climate change action leaders and mentors.

Over the past year, members of the Teach Climate Network have collaborated around a shared vision of regrounding in truth.

Through professional development workshops, #TeachClimateChat Twitter conversations, and the 2021 Summer Institute for Climate Change Education, educators in the network collaborated with climate change education and justice leaders, and each other, to harness the power of education and to build a community of climate action takers. Participants gained the knowledge, confidence, and support to empower their students to understand the truth around the causes and impacts of climate change, and to create equitable solutions in their communities.

Modeling Intergenerational Leadership

Interdisciplinary climate change education is key to developing students’ climate literacy and socioemotional skills, encouraging critical thinking, and supporting youth’s power to act on solutions. One powerful example of the network in action was through our Teach Climate Network workshops; climate change education leaders discussed their experiences in creating personal connections to inspire student and community action. Three amazing youth activists from Climate Generation’s YEA! program joined educators at December’s Supporting Youth Leaders workshop to share their experiences as frontline activists towards equitable climate justice solutions.

“Teaching us about issues that are relevant to our lives, such as racism and climate change, and how these issues intersect… School is supposed to prepare us for the world outside of school, but we will not be prepared unless we understand issues that impact us.”
Sophia Curran-Moore

Youth leader in YEA! (Youth Environmental Activists)

Hearing directly from youth about the important role that educators play in their ability to take action was a powerful reminder that educators simply showing up in student’s lives and being a beacon of truth and caring, can have an incredible impact on communities’ resilience against issues such as climate change.

“Keeping youth in your community informed is important, and making more students involved in their own learning, and avoiding adultism.”
Yvonne Mongare
Youth leader in YEA! (Youth Environmental Activists)

“I associate having a better understanding of climate change with feeling more powerful to make change, and created a whole new insight into the world for me.”
Yasmin Abdurahman
Youth leader in YEA! (Youth Environmental Activists)

Centering Thought Leaders for Intersectional Solutions

The power of education does not stop at helping students learn to read, or understand math or physics, but also to understand when and how to take action against injustices that occur in student’s lives. Kelisa Wing, an author and the Chief of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Department of Defense Education Activity, and Deb Morrison, an anti-oppression activist and Learning Scientist at the University of Washington, joined the Teach Climate Network in January 2022 to discuss the power that educators play in achieving climate justice in our communities.

In March 2022, the Teach Climate Network was joined by three climate justice leaders to advocate for how educators can share diverse climate stories to inform and empower their students to take climate action. Dr. Marshall Shepherd, Jothsna Harris, and Matt Scott challenged educators to be climate justice mentors and youth activism supporters.

Incorporating anti-racism resources into classrooms is an important step towards creating an equitable future, but we know it can be an incredibly challenging task for educators in today’s politically charged environment.

The climate justice experts shared powerful tips for beginning this journey, as well as the importance of grounding any conversation about climate change or climate justice in trusted relationships.

The Power of Networks

All of these opportunities connected educators across North America. Not only did the Network increase their confidence and ability to be trusted resources of fact-based climate change information for their students, but it also provided the resources needed to empower their students to find equitable climate change solutions so desperately needed in their communities. These experiences highlighted the power of education to transform, empower, and inspire students and communities!

We encourage you to take a look at the networks and groups you’re a part of with new eyes; consider inviting folks that might not have fit your definition of expert in the past.

For more information on any of our experts and to see the full workshop recordings, jump into the Teach Climate Network Hub. Check out #TeachClimateChat for our expert Twitter Chats. Sign up for the Network to get your unique username and password and start exploring!

Seth joined Climate Generation in 2020 and coordinates the Teach Climate Network, helping the education program to create powerful professional development opportunities for educators across the country. He recently returned to his home state of Minnesota after five years in coastal Alaska and was able to see firsthand the negative impacts that climate change is having on rural communities. Seth has a Bachelors in History from St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict and a Masters in Education from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He is excited about sharing his experiences in environmental education and positive youth development with the climate change education community.