Writing Student-Friendly Climate Curriculum for Teachers
Students at the Ed School often have jobs while they’re in the program. Lindsey Pockl, Ed.M.’22, became one of those students when she found work doing two things she loves: focusing on the environment and helping other teachers. A long-time elementary school teacher, Pockl now writes curriculum for Subject to Climate, a free, online site started by two Ed School alums (Margaret Wang, Ed.M.’20, and David Rhodes, Ed.M.’20) for K–12 teachers looking for credible, unbiased material on climate change. She spoke to Ed. this past spring.
How did you first get involved with this organization?
I first heard about Subject to Climate from a job posting another HGSE student posted in a Slack chat during our summer courses. After reading the description and meeting with a member of the leadership team, I was hooked by the passion, mission, and vision the organization holds for one another and for the work that they do.
You’re part of their teacher task force. How important is it for teachers to be doing this work for other teachers?
As a teacher, I think it is vital that content is written for teachers, by teachers. So often we are given lessons or resources that are hard to implement given the structure of the lesson or that require more work to prepare on top of our already chaotic schedules. When content is written for teachers, by teachers, the little factors that make a big difference in a lesson are paid attention to, making it easier on teachers to bring great content into their classrooms.
Have you taken anything from this work back into your HGSE classes, or vice versa?
Oh, so much! It has been interesting to reflect on how my work for Subject to Climate has influenced my academic work and choice of classes, but then also how what I’ve learned in classes has influenced my work for Subject to Climate. I have been able to bring lessons I’ve learned from the brilliant teacher task force teammates into my conversations at Harvard and have been able to incorporate the lessons I’ve learned in courses back into our design work. Most specifically, in my courses with [Principal Research Scientist] Tina Grotzer and [FAS Professor] Dan Schrag, I have been able to form relationships with others from various backgrounds who are passionate about climate change both within and outside of HGSE, expanding my scope of the multiple dimensions of climate change education.
In general, how long does it take to create a full lesson plan for the site?
This is a surprisingly tough question to answer. Working with the elementary task force, we create units which are a compilation of 4–6 lessons about a given topic. Teachers who are currently working in the classroom are writing these units while still teaching daily … a huge feat. When the lessons are “ready,” they send the content to me and I create the slideshows and other resources, which takes the burden off of future classroom teachers. After those have been finalized, the units move to the climate scientists to ensure the content is scientifically accurate and to the publication team for revisions. After a few rounds of editing, the lessons are published on the site for teachers to use instantly in their classrooms globally.
What are your plans post-graduation?
I am the new executive director for the international education nonprofit, One World (www.oneworlduv.org). We aim to create a 21st-century global community of future-ready, lifelong learners through providing curriculum, courses, professional development, and supporting teachers and students in implementing our three core pillars: global competence, financial education, and technology awareness. We work closely with schools across the globe to create a dialogue with teachers and students about character, sustainability, peace, leadership, service, and more, centered around helping students become agents for change in their local and global communities. We have been lucky to partner with people such as Laura Schifter at the K12 Climate Action Plan and Miguel Naranjo at the UNFCCC's Climate Neutral Now Program to help inspire and support youth in the climate justice movement.
Check out the site: subjecttoclimate.org