TFAS’s high school programming division, the Foundation for Teaching Economics (FTE), is committed to continuing its mission of providing professional development training for teachers, despite challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
From June 22-25, FTE conducted its first in-person professional development program for high school teachers of the summer. Twenty-eight teachers from 11 states gathered for the annual “Environment & the Economy” program in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. FTE and hotel staff worked cautiously to provide social distancing in the meeting room and dining areas, and ample amount of hand sanitizer, masks and temperature checks in keeping with best practices during the current climate.
The teachers engaged in four days of intensive training and curriculum on how economic principles can be used to analyze environmental issues.
The participating teachers – one of whom traveled from as far as California to attend – explored how a rational, economic approach to environmental issues can help their students understand the complexity of these issues.
Led by FTE professors Don Fell and David Dieterle, the program featured a variety of lecture and discussion sessions, as well as case studies and simulations, serving as the basis for presentation of economic and environmental economic concepts including “Land Use,” “Marginal Analysis,” “Using Incentives to Preserve Species” and much more.
In addition to the classroom sessions, teachers also embarked on an all-day field trip focused on “Understanding the Ecology of The Evolving Everglades,” which featured an airboat tour to further experience the unique ecosystems of the Everglades firsthand and learn about their environmental importance to the economy. The tour was led by airboat Captain Bill Ferris of Cypress Outdoor Adventures and his team of captains who live in the Everglades and are intimately familiar with all types of water, aquamarine and plant life issues.
“The land use simulation and the field trip were exceptional learning opportunities,” one teacher remarked in the program evaluation. “Helping students wrestle with conundrums and understand that there is often not one perfect solution is invaluable for developing their critical thinking.”
Overall, participating teachers found the curriculum, activities and professors extremely valuable, with one participant sharing, “Professor Fell’s comfortable style and knowledge of the subjects were relevant, accessible, well-presented and fun. He packed a lot of information into a short time and provided many activities I can adapt and use in the classroom.”
The next Environment & the Economy teacher program is scheduled for Sept. 26-29, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and FTE hopes to offer several One Day in-person programs for teachers on “Understanding Global Economic Issues,” “Fundamentals of Environmental Economics,” and “Rejuvenating Your Economics Classroom” in fall 2020. Additionally, FTE will also offer two online courses in the fall, “Economic History Online for Teachers, Part 2” and “Teacher Economics: Understanding the Federal Budget, Debt, and Deficits.”
Through programs like this, FTE participating teachers take what they learn in professional development training and go on to teach more than 200,000 students the “economic way of thinking” each year. To learn more about TFAS high school student and teacher training programs, please visit FTE.org.