Not snow, sleet, ice nor driving rain could keep an enthusiastic crew of teachers and outdoor educators from their goal — reconnecting with nature!
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Over 30 people gathered just north of Toronto on April 10 and 11 to take part in our first ever teacher workshop. Delivered in partnership with Learning for a Sustainable Future, we set out to help teachers feel more comfortable using nature and their communities as a classroom.
Despite the soggy and icy weather, we all had fun playing "Hawk vs. Mouse" tag in the mud, hiking in the snow and taking the time to slow down and appreciate the nature that surrounded us. Teachers had a chance to workshop lessons from our Connecting With Nature educational guide and explore ways to inspire their schools to take part in outdoor adventures.
Throughout the workshop we asked teachers to reflect on why they enjoy spending time in nature. One participant said, "I need to reconnect myself with nature for many reasons and I will focus on that from now on."
That time for self-reflection led many participants to realize that they can be better mentors to their students when they themselves spend more time outside. Another participant said, "I learned about the importance of connecting students with nature in order for nature to have meaning to them."
Toronto area's The PINE project provided teachers with fun and engaging ideas on what to do outside, while the Ontario Back to Nature Network shared their resource with check-lists to help teachers prepare to head outside. Ten teachers received funding for release time to attend the seminar thanks to the generous support of the Arcangelo Rea Family Foundation.
Nearly everyone said they felt rejuvenated, inspired and empowered at the end of the two days. All teachers committed to taking their students out once a week or more. We will follow up with them in the coming months to see how they're doing on that commitment. The group also plans to stay in touch to continue to support and inspire each other.
If we can get results like that in the rain and snow, imagine what a ray of sunshine will do!