Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Outdoor Class

| 5 Comments

I taught my first outdoor class today. I’ve always wanted to teach an outdoor class and always thought I would plan it in advance.

But today was not like that, and I now realize that for someone who is a semi-spontaneous teacher like me, it will almost always have to be spontaneous… I’ll explain what I mean.

I call my self semi-spontaneous because I spend a heck of a lot of time thinking about my course, but every single class I teach, I keep changing what I will do for that particular class the night, day, or even hour before class. I also change things up during classes to be responsive to the dynamics of the class and the students and the external environment

In this particular case, I made the decision 10 minutes before class time. And it makes absolute sense to do such decisions spontaneously and responsively. Why?

First and foremost, the weather was incredible. I walk to my class through a beautiful garden that has trees and fountains and flowers. I soooo did not want to get indoors after that!

Second, I had a horrible night and a really awful morning today. I needed the cheer that could come from fresh air and beautiful scenery and sitting on slightly wet fresh grass. And I needed the joy in students’ eyes at the idea of having an outdoor class.

Third, it made sense for this particular class since I was not using a lot of visuals and we were discussing games and play and good aspects of games, and then they were gonna break up into groups to discuss the games they would be designing. The lack of any structure allowed students to move around and fluidly change which group they would work with (ok, this was a little fake, ppl still ended up wanting to work with the same groups they had worked with before, but it was still more fluid than our usual roundtables).

I absolutely loved it. Loved sitting cross-legged on the grass with them in a circle and then moving around to sit and talk to different groups.

I always thought my first outdoor class would take better advantage of the outdoor space, like have students do some sort of activity that involved interacting with the environment directly like the flowers, fountains, trees, benches. I still might do that someday…

But I think also the freedom of the space, that I just ‘let them be’ was good. Some people actually felt comfortable lounging a little, others moved around a bit… It was a good decision to go outdoors, and a good decision to not structure the outdoor experience this time. The acoustics weren’t amazing and i had a sore throat to boot, but a lot of it was small group discussions so that was ok.

If the weather continues to be good, I’ll do it again. Why ever not?

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5 Comments

  1. You are in good company with Aristotle and his Peripatetic School. Now you need to find or plant some Groves of Academe. I have some nice plums to share.

  2. Pingback: Serendipitous Learning on Twitter – ProfHacker - Blogs - The Chronicle of Higher Education

  3. Pingback: teaching outdoors – a reflection » Rethink Your Space

    • Haha Autumm, ok thanks! For the record i never googled u and now i am sorry i didn’t! But that’s weirdly coz i “met” i via HybridPed and for some odd reason i trust these folks w my life (even tho i am pretty sure they don’t really google ppl before letting them into open courses etc)

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