5 Tips for Discussing Outdoor Learning With Your Administration

Cover Image Discussing Outdoor Learning With Your Administration/ a group of kids sitting on the grass learning

Outdoor learning has so many amazing benefits for both you as a teacher and your students. Not only can you cover parts of your curriculum while outside, but you can also experience the physical and mental health benefits of outdoor learning. However, not everyone, including those in the education setting, knows or understands all of the benefits to outdoor learning. This may even include your administration. Before you get started with outdoor learning, you may need to spend some time convincing your administration that outdoor education is awesome and a good fit for their school. In this post, you will find 5 tips for discussing outdoor learning with your administration.

Talking to your administration about starting an outdoor education program isn’t something that you should rush into. You will need to take some time to prepare and show that you are serious and confident about taking your learners outside. Showing that you are prepared and professional will help your admin to feel like their students will be safe in your hands outdoors and that you are not just following a whim.

Some preparation steps for talking to your administration about outdoor education are:

  1. Set up a meeting time (so that you don’t have to rush through the meeting or so your admin doesn’t feel ambushed)
  2. Prepare what you are going to share
  3. Have at least the outlines of a risk management plan and some curriculum plans ready to go.
a group of kids in a circle outside

5 Tips for Discussing Outdoor Learning with your Administration

Before discussing outdoor education with your administration team and sharing your desire to take students outside on a regular basis, here are a few things you will want to think about. If you need some help with any of the steps, you can find templates for talking to your administration in our “Get Outside Tool Kit.”

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1. Take Some Time to Figure Out Your “Outdoor Learning Why”

Before you discuss outdoor learning with your administration, you are going to want to spend some time thinking about and reflecting on why you want to take your students outside. Outdoor learning is awesome and has so many amazing benefits for both you as a teacher and for your students. However, it can also be a lot of hard work. When things get challenging or you have a rough day, this “Why” is going to be what keeps you going. Additionally, when you speak to your administration, you are going to need to convey a passion and conviction about what you are planning on doing. Being able to communicate this can only come with time spent in reflection.

Once you have spent some time reflecting on your why, try to consolidate your thinking into a short paragraph or “elevator pitch.” This can become like a slogan when you talk to others about taking your students outside.

Some things to think about when coming up with your “Why”
  • what positive outdoor experiences did you have growing up
  • how do you feel when you are outside
  • how do you want your students to feel when they are outside
  • what do you want your students to learn or experience when outside

Worksheets for understanding your “Why” can be found in our free “Get Outside Tool Kit.”

2. Brush up on the Benefits of Outdoor Learning

In addition to having a well-crafted “Outdoor Learning Why” you are going to want to be able to share the benefits of outdoor learning and spending time outdoors with your administration. Take some time to brush up on the many benefits of outdoor learning so that you can confidently share them. You may even want to pick out a few key benefits that you would like to focus on or make your priorities. Understanding that outdoor learning time is not just “play” time will help your administrators see the value in outdoor learning.

Handouts and posters featuring the benefits of outdoor learning can be found in our “Get Outside Tool Kit.”

a child with a magnifying glass outside in the grass

3. Share Your Policies and Procedures and Risk Management Strategies

Many people believe that outdoor education is dangerous or too risky to be done at school. Administrators don’t want to see anyone in their school getting hurt. This is why you will need to spend some time in advance making up your outdoor learning policies and procedures and risk management plan. Showing that you understand the inherent risk in outdoor education and have already taken steps to mitigate the hazards associated with those risks can go a long way in convincing your administration that your program or activities will be safe for their students.

Templates for developing your policies and procedures and navigating risk can be found in our “Get Outside Tool Kit.”

4. Prepare Some of Your Outdoor Learning Lessons

If your school administration is particularly achievement or curriculum-oriented, you are going to want to spend some time developing a solid set of sample lesson or unit plans to share. Having a set of plans ready to show your administration how you will meet the curriculum through outdoor learning activities will go a long way in convincing them that you are not just wasting time outdoors. You may want to also spend some time showing how you will not only meet the curriculum needs but also how the students will be developing other skills as well can provide further proof that outdoor time will be used well.

You can find curriculum planning tools in our “Get Outside Tool Kit.”

5. Listen to Your Administration Team’s Concerns

Even with the best-prepared plans, your admin might not be ready to jump on board quite yet. They may need some time to think things over, speak with other officials, or do their own research. If your administration brings up concerns, listen to them carefully and mindfully. This shows that you are invested in the idea and willing to listen to their feedback. You may need to take some time to think things through as well and then get back to them.

a group of kids learning outside

Now Get Planning…

Congratulations on taking the first steps to getting outside with your students. You will be doing something amazing for both their health and their learning (as well as your own.) Spending time outside with your students has so many benefits and allows our students to connect with nature. By taking your students outside you will be creating future citizens that care about the earth and want to look after it. Discussing outdoor learning with your administration and sharing your plans might seem a bit intimidating, especially if you are a new teacher. However, stepping outside of our comfort zone is where we see the most growth. Keep your “why” in mind as you go through the steps to creating a safe and well-planned outdoor learning experience. Your passion will shine through and your administrators will take notice.

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