Team of Informal Educators

"I was able to acheive a greater understanding of what is possible and to design activities to truly make an impact!"


This workshop is offered in partnership with the Lawrence Hall of Science, ASTC, AZA, NAI, and NSF. 


Apply now for a Reflecting on Practice Coaching Workshop!

January 14 - 16, 2019 (9:00am - 5:00pm) - Pacific Science Center, Seattle Washington

January 30 - February 1, 2019 (9:00am - 5:00pm) - St. Louis Zoo, Missouri

  • Single Registrant Rate: $250 / person
  • Team Registrant Rate: $200 / person
  • Some sliding scale scholarships are available

Costs includes a take-home binder, meals during the workshop, and follow-up support. 

We highly recommend sending 2 or more people from your organization to this workshop.

We are pleased to offer a Reflecting on Practice Coaching Workshop, designed by educational researchers from Lawrence Hall of Science and led in collaboration with the California Academy of Sciences and the Chicago Zoological Society. Reflecting on Practice is a modular professional learning program, specifically designed for informal educators, environmental educators, and interpreters.

The workshop familiarizes leaders with a nationally field-tested curriculum for advancing informal education, and building an organizational culture of reflective practice and incorporating research on learning into everyday work experiences.

During this workshop, you will (a) experience portions of the modular curriculum as a learner, (b) reflect on and problem solve for barriers related to shifting organizational culture, and (c) develop a personalized implementation plan for your own site. You will receive a curriculum binder, a book on coaching teams, and some follow-up support after the workshop is complete.

Can you tell me more about Reflecting on Practice?

reflecting on practice logo

Reflecting on Practice (RoP™) is a professional learning program developed at the Lawrence Hall of Science for educators in informal learning environments such as zoos, aquariums, museums, and nature centers and is currently used in over 50 institutions across the U.S. and Canada. This program introduces educators to the latest research on learning, and how this knowledge can contribute to their teaching practice. 

Reflecting on Practice is a Learning Partner with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), approved continuing education provider for the National Association for Interpretation (NAI), and a special partner with the Association of Science-Technology Centers.

Participants can earn elective or continuing education credit towards their NAI certifications or AZA’s Professional Development Certificate in Education and Interpretation.


How does the program work?

Leaders and/or emerging leaders (mid-level manager, coordinators, or directors) from education or volunteer departments at environmental education sites, zoos, aquariums, museums, and nature centers to attend a Coaching Workshop to become RoP Facilitators.

RoP Facilitators, then take the curriculum materials and implement the program with educators at their own organization over a period of 6 to 12 months. The program includes fourteen 2.5 hour sessions organized into modules that focus on topics relevant to learning and teaching in informal environments. It is designed so that all educators (both veteran and beginning educators) can learn together and from one another.

Additionally, RoP Facilitators become part of a national community of learners advancing the informal science education field. There are currently over 60 institutions around the U.S. and Canada that have adopted the program, with more institutions and educators joining the community.


What do the modular sessions look like?

The modules focus on topics about the nature of learning; how people learn; learning conversations; and teaching with objects. Modules consist of interactive small- and whole-group sessions, and reflective tasks.

Four key practice elements are intentionally designed into the program:

  1. Model and build practice (e.g., Hands on activity). Facilitators lead interactive sessions in which they model evidence-based practice. Participants engage as active learners, as they discuss pedagogy and reflect on their own practice.

  2. Relate research to practice (e.g., Research Discussions). To learn to implement research into their own teaching practice, as modeled by program facilitators, participants read and discuss key ideas from the literature. Research discussions provide participants with opportunity to talk with their colleagues about—and make sense of—ideas from research.

  3. Talk about and experiment with practice (e.g., Let’s Talk Practice, Closing Thoughts). Participants are given time to think about pedagogical strategies they currently use and to generate approaches they would like to try. They are encouraged to experiment with their teaching practice, and to share their experiences with one another.

  4. Observe and reflect on practice (e.g., Learning Journals, Video Reflections). Participants engage in activities designed for reflection both individually, by videotaping their teaching, and as a community, making their practice public by reviewing those tapes with colleagues in a supportive learning community. Facilitators encourage participants to examine their teaching preferences, as well as to consider the approach and philosophy of their team, department, and institution.


What if I can't attend the workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area?

Regional Leaders around the country offer Reflecting on Practice Coaching Workshops.​​ Visit this website to apply for one of the other workshops.



Benefits of participating in RoP

Past participants have cited four major outcomes of the program:

  • developed a shared understanding and common language of high quality teaching and learning
  • created changes in habits of thinking
  • opportunities to gain professional skills and recognition
  • cultivation of an internal community/ culture

Here is what they are saying in their own words:

“We now have a better way of talking to each other about what we do. We are building a language and way of sharing that we didn’t have in place before.” Jessica, 2016

“[When I consider how my educators work together I can see..] there is more thought given to why they are doing what they are doing, how it could be done differently, and why they would be considering these things because it comes up in conversations… people are tending to look at things with more of a critical eye than they might have before… Some of these things from RoP are there in the back of their head… They kind of have some new filters to look at things through."

“[The RoP program] was an opportunity to bring people together… Having that sense of sharing what we all do and our common goal of educating the public. Having those common… strategies that we are all using to achieve those goals. Having that sense of community…not you doing this and you doing this — but… that we all learned and are still learning to create and implement these products."

“Reflecting on Practice has opened my eyes to a world of research and information I was unaware of. It has been extremely beneficial to read and discuss with my co-workers/critical friends to help better understand the process of learning and effective teaching.” - Gallery Educator

“Until I began using video as a reflective tool, there were things I thought I was doing BUT in fact I was not. For example, I thought I was have engaging conversations with our guests at exhibits and during my presentations but I was doing more lecturing than facilitating conversations” - Volunteer Docent

"I use the lessons learned in Reflecting on Practice all the time - with new employees, as a refresher for myself, or as a reminder. It has shaped the way I think about how I learn and how our guests learn." - Birch Aquarium

"Since I am still a relatively new educator, there are still many moments of me being self-conscious etc. However, as long as I remind myself to focus on the learners, teaching becomes joyful. Many of the strategies I learned are very helpful along the way." - Esther, 2017


Learn more about Reflecting on Practice:

National Science Foundation logo

This broad implementation effort is made possible by the Lawrence Hall of Science with funding from the National Science Foundation (DRL #1612515).


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Hey West Coast, Hawaii, Alaska & Nevada!

Let us know if you are interested in hosting a workshop in your area. Our facilitators will travel to you and host a 2.5 day workshop for educators in your area. Email: