Outdoor learning: Professional development for teachers

By James Davis, Education Program Manager

June 2017

Our wonderful Environmental Educator Kirsten Dallimore and I had the privilege of facilitating six environmental education professional development workshops for teachers during the month of May.  The workshops took place in Fort St. John, Victoria and Surrey and covered topics such as building a routine to take your class outside regularly, connections to the new BC curriculum and conducting a risk/benefit assessment for an outdoor learning space.

Enjoying the woods. Photo by Nikko Snow.

The highlight of the workshops for many teachers was the time they got to spend outside. We put teachers in the role of students and led them through nature scavenger hunts, games of food chain tag, and other nature connection activities including “Sit Spot,” which allowed participants to sit quietly and observe (something many teachers commented that they rarely have time to do).

I really enjoyed these opportunities to get out from behind my computer and meet teachers face-to-face.  I was able to hear about the challenges that they face in trying to take their students outside during class time. Many of them also shared inspiring stories about the ways that they are helping young learners get outdoors and develop relationships with their natural surroundings.

We got great feedback from the teachers, with a vast majority saying they felt better equipped and more confident to take their students outside than they did before the workshop.

Looking forward to the 2017/18 school year, we are hoping to offer more of these Pro-D workshops and to collaborate with local teachers’ unions to make these opportunities available. Our goal is the work with these unions to institutionalize environmental education training for teachers, with the vision of having they types of Pro-D workshops offered to every teacher in the province by 2020.

If you are interested in having us visit your school district to facilitate Pro-D workshops this coming school year, please get in touch with me at james@sierraclub.bc.ca.

In the meantime, enjoy your summer and don’t forget to get outside!

Want to help us do more? We rely on donations to keep our programs free, accessible, and inclusive year after year. Please donate today to ensure they can stay this way.

Feature image by Navarana Smith.