Getting your class outdoors can be a fantastic experience for both teacher and students. Check out our top ten tips for teaching outdoors to ensure that everything goes smoothly!
Think about what your learners will need – warm, waterproof clothing, drinks, sensible shoes etc – and make sure you and other adults lead by example; check out our guide to group leader responsibilities.
- Organise the learners into groups before you go outside, so that they all know who they are working with; assign an adult to each group if possible.
- Plan your work area in advance – set clear boundaries (eg no one is allowed past this tree; everyone must be able to see my backpack hanging from this branch).
- The sun should be in your eyes, not in the learner’s eyes – otherwise they won’t be able to see you properly.
- Be aware of noise – some learners may not be able to hear you over the sound of the wind or rain; you shouldn’t talk too much anyway – the learners should spend their time outside doing, not sitting still and listening.
- Be prepared for a change in weather conditions – have a plan for what to do if it suddenly tips it down with rain; also be prepared for someone to need the toilet – decide what you are going to do if this happens.
- Learners will behave differently outdoors – some may be frightened if it is their first visit to a forest; others will be overexcited – give them all the opportunity to explore, experience and enjoy their visit (even if it means having more ‘free time’ than you wanted to).
- Decide how you will get the learners ‘back to base’ when they have finished each activity – a whistle or a particular call works well.
- Laminate all paper resources (or put them into plastic pockets), and don’t expect the learners to be able to write on paper – find other ways to record your experiences eg taking photos.
- Finally, enjoy the experience, don’t get too hung up on results and assessment, just watch the learners and be amazed at what they achieve and how they develop.