Teacher's corner

How National Geographic Certified Educator Course Changed my Perspective on the World and Teaching + Course Overview

Every educator has her/his own teaching style, and there are hardly two same teachers in the world. We do follow the same teaching methodology, but in our profession, we also have a chance to develop our skills in other areas and pursue our ideals, while also presenting them in our classroom.

For example – every school has that one teacher who loves music and who is great in these activities. Another teacher is a brilliant mathematician, and the third one runs a drama club. For me, that certain something is English and environmental education. I have this certain eco-anxiety and fear for the future, and that is why I try to develop environmental awareness in every student I have – ultimately, they will be the guardians of our planet.

At this point, I am a part of an eco NGO in Serbia, where I am free to pursue my passion among people who share my opinion. I also had a chance to visit a preschool in Sweden located next to a forest and peek in their environmental curriculum. Finally, my master thesis is connected to environmental education on a preschool level. All of this wouldn’t be possible if I haven’t completed the National Geographic Educator Certification course. This course was so amazing that it empowered me to truly include environmental awareness in my practice on such a deep level that it became a part of my personality as well.

This course will provide you with professional development and recognition; connections and community with like-minded educators; and relationships, resources, and perks with National Geographic Society.

This particular certification seeks to inspire pre-K—12 formal and informal educators to teach, learn, and network in new ways.

The participants of the National Geographic Educator Certification course will:

  • Develop strategies for teaching about the world in innovative, interdisciplinary ways.
  • Cultivate an “explorer mindset” in their students that empower them to become change agents.
  • Engage with an online network of expert educators and support each other’s professional growth during the program and beyond.

National Geographic Educator Certification consists of three phases, which we can complete at our own pace over the course of three months. It takes approximately 20 hours to complete the course from start to finish. Below are descriptions of each phase and the approximate time it will take you to complete. Each phase had optional, one-hour webinars to welcome participants and share instructions.

Phase 1: Certification Workshop

Time Needed: Approximately 2-3 hours

In Phase 1 we had to submit three short reflection assignments and contribute to two discussions. Phase 1 is rooted in National Geographic’s Learning Framework. The Learning Framework is built around attitudes, skills, and knowledge areas that encourage students to think like National Geographic Explorers.

Some of the topics we touched in the video or ”content” corner were:

  • A Shared Mission
  • Compose Your Personal Teaching Mission
  • Understanding the Human & Natural Worlds
  • Inspiring Students with National Geographic Explorer Stories
  • Teaching Across Perspectives & Scales
  • Teaching About the World
  • The National Geographic Learning Framework
  • Applying the Learning Framework
  • Optional: Learning Framework Videos – Attitudes
  • Optional: Learning Framework Videos – Skills

This phase was packed with wonderful and inspiring content. I must say that it helped me greatly in planning my activities.

Phase 2: Classroom Activities

Time Needed: Approximately 5-7 hours

In this phase, I participated in peer review and had the opportunity to pair with a mentor or get feedback from course TAs. I had a mentor and it was amazing! This phase also had a webinar, which I couldn’t attend because of time zones.

Using what we learned in Phase 1, I designed and implemented two classroom activities in Phase 2. We were required to teach our students about our interconnected world, with one lesson connected to a National Geographic resource, and another connected to a list of themes. We also had to submit a reflection form for each activity.

We had to review the reflections of other participants and our reflections were also reviewed! It was the first time I got useful peer-review feedback!

Phase 3: Capstone Project

Time Needed: Approximately 8-10 hours

In the final phase of certification, we contributed to two discussions and submitted a capstone project and a community assignment. We needed to present how our chosen activities reflect the attitudes, skills, and knowledge of the National Geographic Learning Framework, and how they fit in with our personal identity, values, or philosophy as an educator. The capstone submission was a multimedia reflection form, which included 2-6 photos of student work, a 2-6 minute video describing the impact of the implemented, and a reflection.

In this phase, we were invited to join the Certified Educator Community, which I still visit whenever I have any questions or whenever the newsletter highlights any interesting discussion.

The community was really helpful in this stage too, and there were pages with technology tips, explaining copyright, giving tips on how to avoid showing student’s faces and even sharing exemplary capstones from previous courses with everyone.

Here is my reflection video which describes the activities conducted in the ”Perils of plastic” thematic unit with 3rd and 4th graders.

Another wonderful part the course, except for the amazing community, were the videos, which were so inspiring that I actually shed a tear here and there. This is what lacks in most of the PD courses today – true community, sharing, authentic content, and a chance to apply our creations in practice, create a reflection, and get evaluated by a mentor.

Needless to say, I got 5 in all the assessment categories and I am proud of this achievement. All certified educators also get a letter (who doesn’t love receiving snail mail??!) with a very sleek magnetic badge, name tag, a high-quality sticker, and most importantly a gratitude letter from the director of National Geographic. All of these things were just cherries on top of a beautiful cake made to make all educators feel worthy and invaluable. I also forgot to mention that the course is 100% free.

P.S. We also had a chance to start an ”educator journal”, and I will share it will you below. It contains more than 5 full projects/thematical lesson plans and many other reflections, including a teaching mission that I really enjoyed writing.

Click on this link to see my full capstone submission.

This course inspired me to follow my instincts and use all those innovative methods I like in one thematic unit. It gave me tools to inspire students and help then build environmental awareness which extends beyond the walls of the classroom. It also showed the students and me as well that we can make a change together – activism is something we should all strive to in order to improve our local communities. This course inspired me to do all of the things I am successfully doing now. 🙂

Have you ever participated in a course that you felt was life-changing and empowering? How has that influenced your practice and personal life? Write in the comments, I would love to connect with like-minded educators!

Join Methodologyland

Receive weekly freebies and a newsletter to your inbox!

Facebook Comments

Alice is a 27 years old preschool teacher (Pre-K) with a B.Ed. She is currently enrolled in her Master studies, with a double major, one of them being English teaching methodology. She is also an online ESL teacher and blog writer for British Council. Last but not least, she is a mother of a very energetic toddler.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

0