It was cold. Cold like winter. In fact, it was winter, but 15 teachers from across the region started fires, literally and metaphorically.
The first part of the teachmeet involved using steel and flints to spark onto a cotton wool pad which had some vaseline on it. It was huge fun. I think your class would like it.
Once we’d managed a spark and ignited the cotton wool we added the kindle we’d been taught how to split and gradually built our fires. Some were in Kelly Cans and one was in a colander with a trivet on the top. Simple, but huge fun. We boiled the water in the Kelly Cans and mashed ourselves a cup of tea. I know my class would love this, all of them and when they went home that night I reckon they’d tell their folks.
Matt from Grounds for Learning explained how to keep it safe, how to use the equipment and gave examples of the ages of children who’ve done this. You’d be surprised.
Aileen gave out some red strips of paper to add to the fire with our reasons we don’t do more outdoor learning. For me it’s really a bit of laziness. I know when I’ve gone outside with my classes they’ve loved it and they are engaged. Engaging children is something I believe is vital to our children getting the most from school life. I burned my laziness paper, I need to do a bit better.
The more traditional teachmeet section that followed was, as always, interesting. Listening to teachers talk about what they do, why they do it and the impact it has always is. Listening to Aileen talk about children needing recent experiences to talk and write about sparked my thoughts. I need to get my class outdoors a bit more. Teacher after teacher talked about outdoor experiences they had with their classes and each one spoke of the engagement with the traditionally ‘hard to reach’ groups of children.
Our final challenge was to write and then share:
‘What fires are you going to start:
In your class?
In your school?’
Well, I am going to take my class out once a week for at least half an hour of learning – I’m thinking this will be maths as this is an area I feel comfortable with and happy to challenge myself with.
In my school, I’m going to tell people how much my class enjoyed going out and offer to share the learning we’ve done and resources we’ve used.
In myself, I’m going to get my outdoor clothing organised so I can go out whatever the weather with my class!
Many thanks to Matt and Aileen. Grounds for Learning is know in the rest of the UK as ‘Learning Through Landscapes’. Their website has lots of resources and ideas.
It really was cold, but it was worth it and I will make sure my children’s learning benefits.