Do you think your confidence level is linked to:
- Your level of insanity?
- A ‘can do’ attitude’?
- A simple, balanced and practical approach – as with all teaching and learning?
- The quality of your anorak?
Answer the following questions and see where you stand on the issue of outdoor learning.
What does ‘outdoor learning’ mean to you?
a) That’s for the specialists like country rangers or wildlife experts; nothing to do with me, a simple class teacher.
b) Research shows that there are huge benefits when children learn outdoors. So, if the children behave well or I feel like it we go out now and again but I feel nervous that I will be accused of not teaching something ‘proper’ - like literacy.
c) Any learning can take place outdoors with only a small amount of creativity and forward planning.
d) Real outdoor learning should always look like rigorous Forest School practice; anything less is not proper outdoor learning and of dubious quality. I’m about to write a book about it. Shall I come and do a workshop for you?
Where is the best place to learn outdoors?
a) Learning? Outdoors? I don’t fully understand the question.
b) A fully developed outdoor classroom, preferably in the forest where we take children in mini-buses. It cost a lot of money raised by our wonderful PTA.
c) It depends what the learning outcome is – it is often in the school grounds but sometimes in the local area and occasionally further afield.
d) If I had my way we would be outdoors ALL the TIME
Your headteacher expects to see evidence of outdoor learning in your planning. Do you:
a) Pop in a couple of objectives related to your topic on mini-beasts and hope that will keep her/him happy. It will hopefully be rained off anyway.
b) Plan a few ‘one-off’ activities at a fixed time every week for a term. You won’t be rushed into this and want to be convinced that some of this ‘outdoor stuff’ might work.
c) Take a while to analyse your plans and embed outdoor learning across the curriculum, looking for where the best opportunities to teach outdoors occur. You might focus particularly on where literacy and/or numeracy could be embedded into your creative topics.
d) My class will be outdoors all the time – I’ve booked a course on bivouacking so all my planning will be delivered outdoors, whatever the weather.
Your school has just been awarded £10K to spend on developing its grounds. Do you:
a) Wonder what all the fuss is about and think ‘Surely this money could be better spent on something else, like grammar worksheets?’
b) Sit in the staff room with colleagues and let everyone choose something randomly from the latest outdoor equipment catalogue?
c) Consult someone who can help you draw up a plan for the whole school community; find ways to encourage all teachers and children to do more learning outside.
d) Realise this is the time to remind everyone that in a previous life you were an architect and go ahead with an amazing design which is completed within the year.
You have been asked to mentor a student on placement and she has to undertake a series of outdoor learning activities. Do you:
a) Let her get on with it whilst reminding her that this is a passing phase and she will move on to ‘real’ teaching soon.
b) Show her a box of unused maths equipment that has been languishing in a cupboard for years and suggest something there might be of use to her.
c) Spend time chatting to her to gauge her level of confidence, discuss issues around behaviour expectations as well as suggesting some activities that you know are likely to be successful.
d) Insist that all her teaching is done outdoors- you will show her three different ways to light a fire as well as insist she gives up her evenings for a whole week so you can both plan the best maths trail – ever!
You are asked to provide a summary of your opinion about the possible benefits of outdoor learning and what you would like to see in terms of a positive outcome for the children in your class.
a) It will be a disaster. I have children who will just run wild, I will spend all the time struggling to keep control and no learning will take place. I’d rather eat worms thank you very much.
b) I have read that being outdoors can benefit most children and might try a few maths trail ideas with the children who I know can behave properly – it will be regarded as a treat and therefore provide an incentive for the naughty children.
c) I might need to think more carefully about how I help children become more independent in their learning - my practice will improve and children will benefit hugely. I will give it serious attention.
d) My class already understand that outdoors is merely an extension of the classroom. They already take a great deal of responsibility for their learning and behaviour. This is a stupid question – ask me something else.
In your secret Santa at school you pull out the name of a teacher who is passionate about outdoor learning. What will you buy her?
a) Help! Can I take another name from the hat please?
b) Fluffy hat and scarf set – she’ll freeze out there one day.
c) A creative resource that gives lots of active ideas for teaching literacy outdoors
d) A whole session with me – I am the expert after all.
Mostly As: Oh Dear! The great outdoors is not so great for you is it? You will find every excuse not to teach outdoors and try to persuade others it is a terrible idea, fraught with unnecessary difficulties and potential disasters. Maybe a week in a Swedish outdoor primary school would provide some shock therapy.
Mostly Bs: You are a bit lukewarm and half hearted. Maybe this applies to all of your teaching, not just the prospect of outdoor teaching? Remember that the benefits and outcomes for your children are what drive passionate teachers. Go on – give it a try.
Mostly Cs: Your enthusiasm and open mindedness is to be congratulated. That ‘Can Do’ attitude will pay off. Take some time to plan and see where the links and opportunities might be for using the school grounds more effectively is a great place to start. Little and often will build your confidence and children will respond positively.
Mostly Ds: Wow! Have you won ‘Outdoor Teacher of the Year’? Your confidence is obvious but be aware that your colleagues might not be so sure. Be kind and gentle with them; offer some simple but effective ideas to build their enthusiasm for outdoor learning. But can I have a copy of that book you’re writing please?
This quiz has been adapted from the original written by the talented Juliet Robertson (Creative Star Learning). To visit her website, with a wealth of great ideas and information click here: http://creativestarlearning.co.uk/blog/
Why not check out a couple of our Outdoor Digital downloads??