At ZooLab we always want to be – but in a good way! And as a lifelong learning company that works with animals to deliver real curriculum outcomes, we and our nationwide team of expert ranger presenters need to be. So what are the things that we, and other companies, need to do if we are to be seen as relevant and at the heart of what teachers are looking to achieve?
Teachers are not looking for suppliers of materials and experiences, but for people who can work alongside them to help them deliver real curriculum outcomes and experiences and key attainment targets. It is not enough to show up with a bunch of animals and deliver a workshop that vaguely links with the curriculum in ways that teachers can infer from their own expert knowledge of the curriculum. Teachers are looking for evidence of understanding and for delivery according to curriculum outcomes.
The good news is that animals make a fantastic 'vehicle' for getting pupils to engage with everything: from ideas around health and wellbeing; to the major concepts and topics of the science curriculum (from evolution, and the origins of life on earth to adaptations, classification and inheritance); and from engineering (materials and bio-mechanics) to literacy (from developing listening and talking to vocabulary and questioning techniques).
It's not all down to animals of course! There's a lot to be said for having passionate and expert presenters who can provide active learning experiences and make learning fun – in the same way that great teachers do. One of the things that makes me feel proud and fulfilled is when I hear from teachers how our rangers bring a topic to life using real animals and make it exciting and realistic – and how a ZooLab visit can be truly cross-curricular.
If you are involved with teaching or are a parent or guardian of a school age child, I would love to hear your thoughts about animals and how they can bring learning to life. As usual – all ideas are welcome!
To see more of what animals can teach us, simply visit our website at www.zoolabuk.com
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