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Listening To Our Students

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Another season has come and our students are asking, “Where is the winter weather?” The Outdoor Program staff is continuously assessing our students interests and looking for ways to approach the next day’s lesson. With such unusual late fall weather leading us into an even more unusual early winter, teachers have been preparing students to be outside in cold weather. However, all our talk of wearing layers, remembering hats and gloves and scarves, keeping extra warm socks in their lockers and even considering bringing hand warmers, seems to be a little ridiculous as we are experiencing 75 degree days on the East Coast.

“I heard it’s all because of El Niño!”, one student proclaimed.
“What’s El Niño?”, asked his teacher.
“Um, well, I don’t really know. I just heard them talk about it on the news.”, he replied.
“Isn’t it, like, something in California? Something with the wind or the ocean?”
“Hmm…I think I know what we might start with when we return from break.”, his teacher exclaimed.

These are the moments that are like little hidden gems for the outdoor educator. In progressive education and outdoor education combined, the teacher does not always know what will be next. There are no lists to go through. No standard 6.4.23.21.33 to meet and no January 4th lesson plan that was turned in before school started in September. We get to use the outdoors as inspiration and real-life learning experiences to guide our curriculum. It is a magical thing when the students decide what we will study. The key is to continue provoking thought, taking notes, observing, planning and most importantly, listening.

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