Teach Middle East Magazine Jan-Feb 2018 Issue 3 Volume 5 - Page 38

Sharing Good Practice HOW TO MANAGE GROUPS WHILE LEARNING OUTDOORS BY ANITA FOSTER T he benefits of outdoor learning are widely evidenced and accepted, yet many teachers are still reluctant to move outside the classroom. What’s stopping us? Over the last 25 years I have worked with countless teachers, developing outdoor learning opportunities, and overcoming barriers. Some are real, some perceived, but most of the time it comes down to confidence: to try new things; to get it ‘wrong’; to take children into an unfamiliar environment; to let children direct their learning; to know when to step in, and when to step back. Concerns around managing groups outside, is one such barrier, and in this article, we will briefly explore some approaches and ideas to help you to overcome this. Hierarchy of Outdoor Learning Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a well- known model, demonstrating that basic foundations are needed before we can grow, explore and achieve. In the same way, foundations need to be in place to develop your outdoor practice: Challenging weather – hot or cold – should not be a barrier to learning outdoors. Good planning and appropriate clothing can create memorable learning experiences. Initial outdoor learning activities may be simply to establish routines, or familiarise the group with the environment. Higher level learning objectives will build on this and incorporate relevant skills and knowledge. Always clearly identify your outcomes - what do you want to achieve: • Get used to being outside, understand boundaries, choose appropriate clothing? • Understand knowledge? specific curriculum • Develop group skills, e.g. problem solving, collaborative working? • Develop tenacity, resilience or self- motivation? Challenge-support model Daloz’s Challenge-support model provides a useful framework to guide our facilitation of groups outside. Providing the appropriate level of support and challenge, adapting when necessary, means we keep learning and development in the top-right ‘growth’ sector. Remember though, an ‘easy’ challenge might prove very challenging for a group without the Managing Learning Outdoors Managing Others Outdoors Be clear about objectives; prepare with specific knowledge and skills Establish routines and boundaries; develop relevant skills, eg problem solving; consider group management options Be prepared; familarise self with location and environmental conditions; draw on knowledge and experience of others 36 | Jan - Feb 2018 | | Comforatble Stauts Quo Empowered Growth Boredom Apathy Stress Anxiety Managing Yourself Outdoors Class Time Challenge