While working through the Teaching Outside module teachers were asked to spend some of their own learning outside. “Having to be outside for a required assignment was wonderful. I have felt so cooped up the past few months, and so much of my work requires me to be sitting in front of a screen,” commented a fourth-grade teacher from Mt. Baker School District.
Some teachers went a step further and also did the activity with their students. “I took a small group of kids up to the school garden… This was such a success! Because it was a school garden, and only herbs were growing, they were able to touch, smell, see and taste the plants. They were all trying to identify the herbs so they authentically had lots of ‘This one reminds me of…’ statements. I loved the added sense of taste and plant identification. It brought a lot of energy to the activity…This was a fun activity for me and my class!,” reported a fifth-grade teacher from Bellingham School District.
Another teacher shared…
“I think teaching outside requires some planning and preparation with my students. I went for it on Friday after being inspired by reading and watching the nature journaling activity shared in the Climetime course. We journeyed into the woods that are on the boundary of our school property. It’s a place I have taken classes periodically, but not regularly. Management is something that makes me nervous. So, to better be prepared, I front-loaded in the classroom. We brainstormed some norms together and made sure I notified families a few days prior to remind them of proper clothing and shoes. When going out, I quickly realized they were so excited, to a point that they had a hard time focusing on directions. Seeing this, I decided to first give them some explore time. One of our norms was to always have the teacher within sight. You can climb up that hill, but no further if you cannot see me. The kids did great staying within these boundaries. The other nervous factor for some teachers could be safety dangers. From the outset, kids were walking on logs a few feet above a small stream. One slip and they would fall in. I let it go and watched them being very careful. Those not comfortable found a different route. I think letting kids take some calculated risks outside is a good thing in our overprotective world.”
-John Livesey, a fourth-grade teacher
At the end of the course, 75% of teachers reported an increase in their desire/intent/ability to utilize the outdoors in their teaching and another 22% reported that they were “going to try” (with the final 1% reporting that they “already utilize the outdoors”) allowing us to happily say that enthusiasm for teaching outside can be grown even through remote learning.