3 Reasons Teachers don’t Teach Outdoors

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There is a saying amongst outdoor educators that there is no bad weather to teach in. Living in Queensland our climate is such that teachers should be able to teach outdoors most of the year-round. So, what is stopping them?

After working with schools and kindergartens for many years. My discussions with teachers have led me to find three main arguments which come up time and time again. These are the main reasons teachers are not using teaching outdoors.

1) “We have nowhere to do it”.

Now I would say that all schools have places teachers can take students. However, when you dig down and tease out what those teachers are saying. It comes does the following. They feel like they have nowhere to go, where they feel comfortable teaching.

Things that might be wrong

– No shade/ no sun

– Too noisy

– Too close to other classrooms

– Too windy

What design issue can we take from this?

You need a variety of different types and sizes of spaces spread all over the school.

One space is not going to cover all scenarios. A teacher might want a large area where they can have the whole class. This might need to be away from other classes because they want to make noise. Another time they may want several small spaces they can take different reading groups.

When designing these spaces, they need to be as flexible as possible. But realise that each has its limitations.

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2) “We do not have the resources”

Resources, now you might be thinking schools have a lot of resources. However, teaching outside can require specific resources that they would not normally have in the classroom. For example, blackboards or whiteboards outside for the teacher to draw on. Seating logs or carpet squares. Tables tray tables, or permanent tables outside.

What design issue can we take from this?

Resources need to be easily available to teachers for them to use.

The location and storage of these items have to be considered carefully. They need to be stored so they are not damaged and if left outside suitable for that purpose. Thought needs to be put into purchasing items that provide the best benefit to the teachers and students. Some of these items will be able to be shared between classes while others will not.

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3) “I feel like I am not allowed to”.

This one is a tough one. Many schools where teachers bring this up as an issue do not have suitable spaces for them to try.

What design issue can we take from this?

You need to provide some spaces for teachers to be able to give it a go.

Provide them with resources to try. Training and brainstorming if they need it. However, the biggest stumbling block is encouraging teachers to give it a go. If something doesn’t work, that’s ok try something else next time.

What do you do to get started?

There is always something you can do in your school to help move classrooms outdoors. Start by asking yourselves these questions about your school.

Are there any large shade sails or shelters that could be revamped to create a more inviting place to teach?

Look at installing some strategic outdoor chalkboards/whiteboards?

Look at seating. Sitting on the ground is not always fun. Do you have some logs, tree stumps from a recently felled tree? What about rocks. Look around your school grounds and see what is available that might be good to sit on?

Do you have any movable benches that could be positioned in a circle under a nice shady tree?

Finally, ask the teachers, they are the ones who will be using these spaces. They often have fantastic ideas.

If you want help in finding spaces around your school for outdoor learning, then contact us we would love to hear about your school

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