Teacher Testimony
Nita Seng

Teacher Testimony - Nita Seng

This GivingTuesday, we are profiling some of the amazing educators who work with us at SubjectToClimate and apply their passion and knowledge of climate change education in the classroom to raise awareness of this topic. We spoke with Nita Seng, a former teacher and current SubjectToClimate employee who works primarily on writing lesson plans for the site. Most recently, Nita taught seventh-grade Math in Los Angeles, where she incorporated climate change education whenever she had the chance. Nita’s work as an educator guides the writing of her SubjectToClimate lesson plans and emphasizes the importance of SubjectToClimate’s mission to provide resources that fit into existing curricula.

Meet Nita

Nita’s investment in climate change education stems from multiple sources in her personal life. She has always been interested in being an agent of social justice causes, and her main motivation for becoming a teacher was to create a more equitable future. In 2019, Nita realized that climate change falls under the umbrella of social justice causes, and as such, she felt the need to address it in her classroom.

Nita's Story

Nita, herself, is also a refugee from Cambodia and works with many other refugees. Some of her family still lives in Cambodia, and they experience the effects of climate change as part of their daily lives; for example, a large lake near her family’s home is now unable to provide enough fish for the fishermen due to the changing climate. During her time at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, Nita worked extensively on the issue of climate displacement. While she found the work to be depressing, it showed Nita how important it is to educate our youth about climate change so that they can conjure up solutions for the multitude of issues that it causes. 

In her position as a Math teacher in L.A., large majority of students came from Spanish-speaking families and all were from low-income backgrounds. She asserts that incorporating climate change into her lessons made Math more relevant for her students - in many ways, climate change helped me teach math.

“In many ways, climate change helped me teach math.” - Nita Seng, Chief Learning Designer at SubjectToClimate

Nita’s work as a teacher informs the creation of her lesson plans for SubjectToClimate and has helped guide SubjectToClimate’s overall mission. For example, Nita cites that she felt immense pressure from school administration to make sure that her students performed well on standardized tests, so every lesson that she taught had to integrate education standards, including those which addressed climate change. Thus, all of the lesson plans on SubjectToClimate’s site are aligned with national education standards and allow for customization to target different state standards. Nita finds that providing lesson plans that align with current standards enables teachers to start teaching climate change without waiting for laws or policies to change. Nita also notes that many of the lessons she taught about climate change did not dive deeply into the climate change topic, rather, the math lesson would have a climate change theme, which was enough to engage students in the topic and incorporate climate change education. 

Based on her experience, as a teacher and with SubjectToClimate, Nita mentions a few takeaways about climate change education and ideas for the future. She notes that students are already interested in and concerned about climate change. Educators, then, merely need to harness this interest and provide their students with enough information to give them agency to take action. Nita also notes that climate change education should move beyond transmitting facts to incorporate more project-based, solutions-focused learning. For example, encouraging partnerships with community organizations and participating in local environmental projects that get students out of the classroom and into the real world will make climate change education more relevant to students and show them what sorts of actions they can take to be a part of the solution. In this way, action-based learning gives students hope that things can change. 

Final Thoughts

By participating in SubjectToClimate’s GivingTuesday fundraiser, you are supporting educators like Nita as they support causes to educate our youth about climate change and encourage them to take action. 

In addition, you are helping SubjectToClimate to leverage more resources so that a greater number of educators across grade levels, subjects, and geographic areas will find ways to integrate climate change education into their own curricula. We hope you’ll join us!

About the Author

Julia Turner is currently a professional ballet dancer with the Grand Rapids Ballet, located in Grand Rapids, MI. She has danced professionally since 2014, during which time she completed her Bachelor's Degree at Harvard Extension School, graduating in November 2021 with a field of study in Economics and a minor in English. During her undergraduate career, Julia completed various research projects under the direction of James Carras, a Harvard Kennedy School adjunct professor and affordable housing consultant. Her research examined the affordable housing crisis, including devising ways to increase its supply (with a particular focus on financing mechanisms) and to better help individuals currently experiencing homelessness. 

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