Teaching Outdoors in ALL Types of Weather

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As a species and as a culture, we have made incredible technological advancements thanks to scientific exploration and focused engineering.  Tools such as the microwave and car have revolutionized how we live and transformed humans around the world. And yet, something simple and seemingly mundane still controls much of our movement and the decisions we make: the weather.  From snow and sleet to drought and heat, changes in weather have daily effects on our lives. We at Cody Outdoor Classroom must deal with the weather just like everyone else, especially when we are teaching outdoor programs. Whether it is moving teaching locations due to thunderstorms or high temperatures, or trying to find shade for student groups, the weather influences how and where we teach.  We do have a few tricks and tips for dealing with crazy weather while teaching outside:


The Sun

The sun is both a blessing and curse, depending on the day and the time. On cold days, teaching in the sun can be warming and energizing. On hot days, finding spots covered in shade is crucial to keeping students happy and hydrated.  As a teacher, it is important to take note of where the sun is in the sky relative to where your group of students is looking. Position your group so that you are looking into the sun and your students are able to look at you without difficulty.

Rain

Dealing with rain while teaching outside is challenging, but it can also be extremely rewarding. It is imperative to ensure that your students are prepared with rain jackets and pants, good footwear, and dry clothing.  Wet students are unhappy students, and won’t be as open to learning. A prepared group that thrives in spite of the rain will often feel empowered and bond by being outside in the rain. You can create a sitting pad by cutting a square out of an old foam sleeping pad. These pads can also be used for playing games and conducting initiatives.

Thunder and Lightning

There are times when it is necessary to retreat indoors.  Safety always comes first, and that means that if there is lightning in the area, you should go inside immediately.  This doesn’t mean that your day is over, however. At the Cody Outdoor Classroom, we prepare for this contingency by ensuring we have a good, open space in which to retreat, and lots of games, initiatives, and lessons ready to go, just in case.


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Teaching outdoors is a rewarding and positive endeavor.  Weather is a part of outdoor life, and changing weather must be prepared for.  With creative and flexible thinking, good learning and profound experiences can be had no matter the weather conditions.