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In the Spring of 2019 I undertook a National Geographic course for the first time and it's called the National Geographic Educator Certification course. This course seeks to inspire Pre-K—12 formal and informal educators to teach students about the world in innovative and interdisciplinary ways. As an Informal Educator, this 3-month course was like jet fuel for my youth initiative, Explore in School.

by Dax Justin

I’m over-the-moon excited to share with you all that I am officially a National Geographic Certified Educator! After a few months of work over Spring and Summer, I got the official word that I had earned the certification.

MORE THAN EVER, OUR WORLD IS INTERCONNECTED.

National Geographic Educator Certification is a free professional development program that recognizes pre-K through 12 formal and informal educators committed to inspiring the next generation of explorers, conservationists, and changemakers. These educators are part of a powerful movement to make the world a better place by empowering students to be informed decision-makers equipped to solve meaningful challenges in their communities and beyond.”

DON’T JUST TEACH STUDENTS ABOUT THE WORLD—TEACH THEM HOW TO CHANGE IT.

The course is made up of three phases, each with their own objectives and set of criteria for completion. In the first phase, I worked on developing my Teaching Mission; taking a goal and expanding that into formidable action. Before the course, my teaching mission was to basically just go into schools and give presentations about walking with polar bears… After I completed the first phase successfully, my Teaching Mission is now to EXPLORE – ILLUMINATE – ACTIVATE through a series of visual storytelling presentations and lessons on wildlife conservation, human impact on the planet, and, inspiring students to become young adventurers and stewards of the environment.

In the second phase, the course dives into the National Geographic Learning Framework. “The National Geographic Learning Framework lays out what we believe children and youth should learn from their experiences with the Society. It communicates National Geographic’s core beliefs and values, and has been created to provide guidance for every product, resource, service, and experience we design. The Learning Framework supports educators—everyone who teaches and cares for children and youth—with resources and tools to meet our mission: We teach kids about the world and how it works, empowering them to succeed and to make it a better place.”

“Key attitudes encompass the mindset of an explorer. National Geographic kids are:

Curious and adventurous—curious about how the world works, seeking out new and challenging experiences throughout their lives.

Responsible—with concern for the welfare of other people, cultural resources, and the natural world. They are respectful, considering multiple perspectives, and honoring others regardless of differences.

Empowered to make a difference. They act on curiosity, respect, responsibility, and adventurousness, and they persist in the face of challenges.”

After implementing this learning framework into my lessons I had injected my presentations with more meaning and depth.

The third and final phase of this course is all about your Capstone Project. It’s like the season finale! This is a multimedia project that includes short written reflections, photos, and a video. The purpose of the capstone video is to share the story of one of your course activities, its impact on the students, and its connection to the learning in the certification course.

I LEARNED HOW TO INSPIRE + ACTIVATE YOUNG PEOPLE THROUGH AN EXPLORER MINDSET.

Thanks to all who stood for me to achieve this goal. Speaking to you, my fearless mentor Allison Fuisz and the Team at Inside NatGeo!

I highly recommend this program to any educators out there. It will advance your aptitude and shape the way you (and your students) think + act on our planet’s habitats. If you’re an educator interested in enrolling National Geographic Educator Certification this Fall please view registration details here:

DAX JUSTIN, National Geographic Certified Educator

ABOUT NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY:

The National Geographic Society is an impact-driven global nonprofit organization that pushes the boundaries of exploration, furthering understanding of our world and empowering us all to generate solutions for a healthy, more sustainable future for generations to come. Our ultimate vision: a planet in balance.

Dax Justin is a Canadian explorer and adventure photographer, currently based in Calgary, AB. His photos and stories are focused on connecting humans back to nature. His work is concerned with ocean health, Indigenous rights and distinctiveness, and our environment, covering stories such as eco-tourism in the Great Bear Rainforest, the human impact of marine debris, and trekking with Polar Bears on the Hudson Bay tundra. Dax is a newly-elected Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (FRCGS), Contributor to Canadian Geographic, a National Geographic Certified Educator, TEDx speaker and creator of the the ‘Explore in School‘ (EiS) initiative. You can explore more of his images and adventures on instagram.com/daxjustin or facebook.com/daxjustin.

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