Each year I choose to undertake a minimum of 20 days teaching to remain on the supply list for a nearby city. This is worthwhile as it enables me to keep my hands dirty and my expectations real about what is and isn’t possible when it comes to learning outside and in.
Next term I’m going to be involved in an interesting project on weekly basis from May onwards. I’ll be working in a large city school with 3 classes at every primary stage, one of which is a class for children with additional support needs. The school was rebuilt one year ago and so everyone is still acclimatising to the campus. Like so many new-builds in Scotland, the focus has been on making the outside area look nice but learning and play have very much been secondary considerations in the design, layout and features of the outdoor area.
I’m going to be working with three classes to develop this outdoor space as a place to place and learn:
Basically it’s a bit of tarmac, blank walls which may not have things attached or painted onto it, and a tall iron fence. I think the possibilities are endless.
The main focus of the work will be consulting the children in the nearby classes, observing how they use this space and using their ideas to make the area grow and take shape. It is going to be one big experiment.
I do not have a vision for what this space will look like as this depends so much on the children and staff and their interests and needs. This is not my space, it’s theirs. Er…I don’t even have a budget! It’s going to have to rely on what resources the school already has or that which can be begged, borrowed or donated. Oh, and being a busy person with other work commitments on all my other days, I don’t have the luxury of time. Even during my working day at this school I have time allocated to other classes and projects.
Luckily I believe that experiments never fail. They may not have the outcome we desire or are seeking, but this is not failure. However I feel I’m going to be working in a really real situation. This is what most teachers face when thinking about taking learning and play outdoors. Scared? Yes. Excited? Too right! Curious? Oh yes!
Watch this space!
PS Advice, tips, suggestions and ideas welcomed.