Teaching in Nature

Planning the Excursions

A key component in this collaborative enquiry project was that teachers would gather together in groups to consider how some local NNRs (or other local wild place) might be used as venues for outdoor education. Teachers' groups met at planning visits and at project workshops. Three of the groups visited their local NNR without their pupils, but with a member of Scottish Natural Heritage staff on hand to consider possibilities. These 'planning visits' allowed for some interpretation and advice from the local SNH site management staff, and the opportunity for teachers to work closely and meet with others to discuss ideas and challenges. Aspects of these 'planning visits' were recorded on video by university researchers; informal interviews were conducted. Subsequently, the teachers attended a project workshop where they reviewed each other's experiences of the planning visits and shared initial ideas.

Planning videos

Findings from Planning Phase

  1. Working collaboratively on planning and executing teaching in nature, rather than alone, had the effect of empowering teachers to try something new.
  2. Repeat visits to the same place changed teachers' perspectives and allowed for a richer learning experience.
  3. Teachers noticed the outdoor context had effects on how they felt about and how they saw themselves as educators.
  4. Teachers, whether novice or expert in teaching out of doors, found they could develop their expertise through the key activities of
    • making visits to sites in advance of taking their pupils,
    • discussing their ideas with other teachers,
    • making initial visits with their pupils with support (parents or specialist staff),
    • going to visit the same outdoor natural place more than once
    • making connections between the experience of the place and their own past outdoor biographies
    • creating plans for purposeful and meaningful outdoor visits.