At the end of every UVEI seminar, we ask participants what worked well to support their learning and what could be improved.  During this time, a Teacher Internship Program (TIP) candidate recently shared that “Having people come in to talk to us about relevant topics in our world and how we can use them in our classes and schools” was something that they found particularly valuable.

 

We were glad to get this feedback! – because that was one of the reasons why we asked Regeneration Corps, which supports schools in environmental studies, to come and interact with this cohort.  Throughout the year, we offer different learning opportunities that expose our teacher cohort to innovative approaches to teaching and learning.  Sometimes this involves going out to visit educators in the field, such as our visit to Cabot School last year; sometimes this involves bringing people to us. 

 

Regeneration Corps’ mission is “to support youth with the knowledge and skills to mitigate and respond to climate change and its constituent impacts, while building community resilience and strengthening local food systems.”  We learned of their work through our connection with Vermont’s Education Justice Coalition, through networking UVEI has done in the past with Building Fearless Futures (BFF) and other justice-minded educational organizations.  (Netdahe Stoddard of BFF was part of our 2022 Strong Schools Dialogue Series.) 

 

Joining us for a few hours of our TIP seminar were Karen Ganey and Cat Buxton, members of Regeneration Corps who have experience working with schools in the Upper Valley.  Cat told us about her work on the Super Compost Project at Thetford Elementary School, where students help manage thousands of pounds of food waste every year.  We learned about the concept of a “just transition,” which RC describes, in part, as a “transformation of our society that seeks to put humanity into a harmonic balance with the earth.”  Cat and Karen also introduced us to the concept of “multisolving.”

 

A “multisolving” framework can help people explore solutions to a wide variety of problems, contemplating the connections to different elements of our human and natural communities.  It can help show how looking for solutions in one area can have a big impact elsewhere.  To demonstrate this, Karen and Cat led us through a discussion of two topics chosen by the TIP cohort, based on experiences our candidates have had in schools: trauma-informed practices, and deeper connections between schools, families, and communities. TIP candidates explored questions like: What problems need to be solved in our community? Who has lived experience we can learn from? Who should make the decisions? Who will benefit from the decisions? Who/what is impacted – and how?  We saw how these questions are relevant to problem-solving in any domain, and are especially important as our communities seek to address climate change.  

“Ensuring that students have systems thinking/multisolving in their tool belts when they leave school will help them to find solutions that will make the world a better place.” ~ Abbie Castriotta, TIP 2024

The cohort discussed how we can bring this problem solving framework to students, whether during project-based learning units or elsewhere, and how it may be useful in collaborating with colleagues. Abbie Castriotta, TIP candidate who helped UVEI faculty plan the afternoon, added how valuable a systems-thinking or multisolving approach is for students to experience and practice. It is the “the ultimate transferable skill,” Abbie said. “Ensuring that students have systems thinking/multisolving in their tool belts when they leave school will help them to find solutions that will make the world a better place.” 

 

We are grateful for the conversations that prompted us to think about the interconnectedness of our human and environmental systems and how we can learn to teach in ways that help us explore these connections.  Regeneration Corps will join us for an open networking forum on Tuesday, April 16th from 4:30-6:00 pm. At this event, alumni and members of the wider UVEI community will connect to share questions, resources and ideas related to teaching about responding to climate change and seeking justice. View more information here, or simply RSVP below if you’d like to attend – we look forward to continuing these conversations!