School's going to look different this year for Loyalton teachers and their students.

Earlier this year, you helped the Feather River Land Trust conserve a Learning Landscape for Loyalton Elementary and High schools. (Read the story here.) 

After conserving an outdoor classroom within walking distance of their school, what's the next most important thing for getting kids outside learning and exploring nature?

Supporting and empowering their teachers as outdoor educators, across the curriculum.

Teaching From the Land

That's what FRLT's "Teaching from the Land" workshop is designed to do. On August 19, ten Loyalton K-12 teachers, plus their new superintendent took part in an all-day workshop. 

At the end of the day, Loyalton Elementary School teacher Erin Folchi commented,

"This day was so valuable. Before today I was excited about taking my kids out on the property, but I wasn't exactly sure what I would do. And now, just one day later, I'm 100% confident of how I'm going to use the property to teach my kids."

The workshop included time out on the Smithneck Meadows Learning Landscape to learn about the specific plants, wildlife and other natural attributes of the property as well as its agricultural uses. Teachers practiced activities and field observations that they can do with their students. Retired educator and FRLT member Susan Hopkins led a session on using literature and the arts as a gateway for building children's relationship to land and learning. The teachers brainstormed ways they could embed outdoor learning into their curriculum and instructional plans on a weekly basis. They shared and developed helpful parameters and best practices for keeping their students focused, engaged, and safe during outdoor lessons.

Loyalton Elementary received a field kit for outdoor lessons that includes 30 sets of binoculars, hand lenses, and field guides (Loyalton High received theirs last year and are putting them to good use).

Nurturing Teachers' Own Relationship to Land is Where it Starts

Every aspect of the workshop was designed to help teachers feel appreciated, empowered as outdoor educators, and confident in their abilities to create their own lessons and "teach from the land" across the curriculum. First, to value their professional time during the summer, each teacher receives a stipend or honoraria for participating. And to nurture their own relationship to the land, each teacher was gifted with their own personal field backpack with binoculars, field guide, and field journal.

Loyalton High Teacher, Janet McHenry wrote us this note:

"Thank you so much for yesterday. I thoroughly enjoyed it and came away inspired and with a commitment to use the space to enhance my students' learning process. Just have to say . . .  thanks for your hustle to get the many really nice gifts for us. We NEVER have things given to us with the words, "These are for YOU." I really felt valued and appreciated . . . and in turn, psyched for the year. Just wanted to let you know that..."

Your support makes it possible. Thank you!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014