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Weekly Challenge # 6: Collaboration by Trekking with Colleagues

October 6, 2013

Each week this school year I have been promoting getting your students outside to study environmental education in some capacity. Thus far I have received a lot of feedback on Twitter and on the blog alike about the ideas. This means I know some folks are trying at least versions of the suggestions offered.  I am trying to keep them simple, easy and capable of doing at a moments notice without having to do too much planning. However, I do wonder what some of your colleagues are thinking about the amount of time you are spending outdoors now.

This week there is a slight twist in that the challenge has little immediate, but hopefully giant later impact upon your students.

I’m encouraging you to go out for a walk around the school community with colleagues.

It’s simple, yet it also has the potential of being extremely impactful.

  1. Two (or more) heads will see more when out on a walk. Discuss programming ideas, lesson plans, timing issues or more. When out and about learning the community that your students live in – you will no doubt receive little epiphanies of your own on how best to teach a subject outdoors.
  2. Coaching and mentoring. If you read my blog you likely have a slight interest in getting your students outside or teaching environment issues. So bring out a co-worker who is also interested – or for that matter, one who thinks they are not interested. They may roll their eyes at your interest in bird-watching as you start your walk, but you could quickly discover you both have an interest in weather patterns and ideas start to flow. You may find you have a kindred soul or a new resource for your lessons.
  3. Your physical and mental health will profit as well.
  4. You learn the community. We are not all lucky enough to live in the communities where we teach and this is likely the very best way to learn the community that your students live, play and learn in.

As an administrator of outdoor education facilities I would also suggest that sometimes critical conversations can be handled more successfully in this way too. I was lucky enough to meeting my predecessor who was in my role for 17 years a few years back. He told me wistfully that I had one of the luckiest jobs in the world. He said one of the things he loved best about it was that if he had an issue with a co-worker he would just say, “Let’s go for a walk.” and usually by the end of a looped trail there was a better understanding of the concerns raised. I agree wholeheartedly.

Heading out for a short trek with colleagues has so many potential benefits. I find personally some of my best programming ideas tend to come to me when I am doing my training runs or walking in the outdoors. I am not interrupted by students, my own kids at home, or anything else. I can truly set my mind free beyond the classroom walls when out.

I will finish this post with a tweet from a week or so ago that I think sums it up nicely.  As always, would love to hear how it works for you!  

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