Humane Education Professional Development Opportunities

As summer approaches and another school year winds down, we wanted to not only congratulate teachers for making it through this challenging year, but also thank them for all they did to help students grow, learn and adapt over these past nine months.

Summer is a time for teachers to take a much needed break, reflect on the year that was, and prepare for the year ahead. Now is a great time to start thinking of different professional development opportunities to further knowledge and understanding of animals, people, and the environment. We have compiled a variety of resources including free conferences, courses, videos, books and more that will help foster kindness and compassion in your students- and the best part is -that you can do it all from the comfort of your own home! If you decide to take advantage of some of these learning opportunities, let us know how they go (we plan on taking a few ourselves!).  *views represented in these suggestions do not necessarily represent the views of the Alberta SPCA.


  • Educators for Animals Conference (August 18-19, 2021)
    • This free virtual two-day conference brings educators from across Canada together to explore how animal protection can be incorporated into the classroom. Sponsored by Humane Canada, this two-day conference includes sessions titled “Using Storytime and Animal Projects to Cultivate Compassion,” “Creative Ways to Incorporate Animal Issues into High School Courses,” and “Fostering Empathy and Critically Compassionate Thinking” co-presented by Alberta SPCA Director of Education, Melissa Logan. Registration is free.
  • Summer Institute for Climate Change Education: A Regrounding in Truth (July 28-30, 2021)
    • This global conference brings educators together virtually to gain knowledge, skills, tools, and resources to teach about climate change in all subject areas and grades. This three-day conference includes sessions, networking and one full day dedicated to working and planning with regional cohorts. Registration is $250, however there are scholarship opportunities available.

Courses and Workshops:

  • Learn more about animals, their welfare and behaviour through the University of Edinburgh’s free MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course). Enrollment is free and courses take approximately 10-15 hours to complete.
  • Indigenous Canada Course
      • From the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta, this 12-module course explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada from an Indigenous perspective highlighting Indigenous-settler relations. Enrollment is free, but if you’d like to receive a certificate of completion at the end of the course, there is a small fee.
  • National Geographic
      • National Geographic’s free online courses equip educators with the knowledge and tools to positively impact their classroom. The courses assist educators in building their own skills and knowledge to foster curiosity of the natural world in their students. Courses are both self-paced and cohort-based and cover topics such as teaching climate change and teaching students to ask their own questions.
  • Outdoor Learning Store
      • This spring, the Canadian Outdoor Learning Store hosted a free virtual workshop series that were recorded and available for educators to watch anytime. Topics covered include: The Importance of Indigenous Perspectives in Children’s Environmental Inquiry, Teaching Kids and Teens about Climate Change, and Inspiring Environmental Learning through Music and Song! Each session is about an hour in length.

Books, Documentaries, and More:

  • Think Like an Animal (Documentary)
    • Researchers are finding new ways to explore the animal mind. When it comes to understanding how animals think, we typically approach it from a human-centric perspective! Can the latest science change the way we think about animals? In this Nature of Things episode, animal intelligence is explored and new research dispels old myths.
  • AnimalChat: The Alberta SPCA Podcast (Podcast)
    • The more we know about animals, the more willing and able we are to provide adequate care, and AnimalChat helps build that knowledge. The podcast explores topics such as animal behaviour, welfare, and protection and a new episode is available every second Friday, wherever you get your podcasts.
  • Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? (book)
    • Ethologist and primatologist Frans de Waal explores animal cognition and intelligence throughout the animal kingdom in this very digestible book that marries research and antidotes. This thought provoking read will challenge what you think you know about animals! This is also a great listen on an audiobook. Frans de Waal most recent book, Mama’s Last Hug explores animal emotions, and looks to be another excellent read (or listen)!

Why Curiosity Matters

Curiosity is powerful. It encourages us to ask questions, seek answers, think critically, and find solutions to problems both big and small. It helps us to be open to others, build understanding and foster empathy – and it needs to be nurtured.  Astrophysicist and science

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Summer Reads for Teachers

We usually highlight great animal-themed books for your students, but this list is just for you! The following suggested reads span fiction to non-fiction and are guaranteed to kindle your curiosity about animals and spark reflection about our relationship to them. Saving Manno by Spencer Sekyer

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Animals in the classroom: Responsibilities & Rewards

Mrs. Ainslie-O’Connor is a seasoned grade three teacher who has incorporated classroom animals in her teaching for about 10 years. I met with Mrs. Ainslie-O’Connor in her brightly lit grade three classroom in Spruce Grove and was introduced to some of her furry – and not

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Volunteer Spotlight – April 2019

The Alberta SPCA Education Department is fortunate to have two wonderful volunteers that help us connect teachers to humane education resources they can use in their classroom. Whether it is coming into the office once a week, or helping us at special events, our volunteers

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What to Expect with AnimalTales

Are you thinking about getting AnimalTales but not sure what to expect? This blog is intended to give you a better idea of how AnimalTales can be used in your classroom. The AnimalTales program is easily adaptable; each activity can be modified to fit the

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The Rise of Alternatives

Technology is paving the way for advances in science and medicine, and providing opportunities for learning, through the use of alternatives. From Organ-on-a-Chip to a virtual dissection table, superior methods to the traditional use of animals for education and research and being created and implemented.

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Animals and Remembrance Day

This Remembrance Day marks 100 years since the end of the First World War. Over 650,000 men and women from Canada served in this war, with 66,000 of those making the ultimate sacrifice. That is one in ten people who never returned home to their

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Every One Counts Contest Prize Recipients!

We are happy to announce the prize recipients of the Every One Counts contest! Many of the entries were strong contenders, so to say it was a difficult decision would be an understatement. The three entries selected to receive a prize did a great job

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Volunteer Spotlight – April 2018

We are fortunate to have two dedicated volunteers to help in our education program. From helping with our book lending program, to translating material for our recently launched French website, much of what we do would not be possible without the help of these fantastic

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