Community for Schoolyard Teaching and Learning

Over our 50+ years connecting people and nature, we have often heard teachers say things like…

”I’ve never seen my kids so excited!” and

“I really bonded with students in ways that could never have happened in a typical school day.”

Similarly, we hear students say,

“I wish school could be like this ALL the time.”

We think it can.

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Even before the current pandemic, schools across the country were moving to more experiential models, with frameworks like place- or problem-based education coupled with various versions of outdoor classrooms. It can provide real world applications for school content, while addressing a host of social, emotional, and physical needs of students and teachers. And now we can add in public health benefits as well!

We applaud this movement and want to support and encourage this by bringing teachers, administrators and outdoor educators together to tackle challenges of pedagogy, resources, and logistics.

The Community for Schoolyard Teaching and Learning provides this collaboration space where we model best experiential practices in professional development, discussion, and sharing success stories.

Join this community to meet like-minded educators, share and pick up tips, and energize your teaching.

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As part of this network, you will receive information about professional development opportunities, resources, and an invitation to join the meetings that take place the third Thursday of each month from 4:30–6 pm.

“I sometimes have the mindset that explorations outside have to be big excursions, tied to a million academic standards, but these activities were incredibly simple and got my students to look at their space differently. Thank you all at Tremont for inspiring us to get out there and try!’

“The next outdoor trip was to do some ‘sound mapping’…We were able to go to the tiny green space right outside my classroom to do [it]. They were incredibly excited to try their “new skill” outside. I explained the activity. I set boundaries for where they could sit but I didn’t even have to ask them to be quiet. They were completely engaged.”

“I took my first group of students to the Wetlands at our school. I was able to establish some routines with the group. The biggest joy I had was hearing their excitement for being outside.”

“This has been a little sanctuary. It has been a positive place to come together and enjoy sharing ideas in such a crazy time. The staff truly values connecting ideas, teachers, and students.” – Knox County teacher

Upcoming Meetings

What happens during monthly meetings?

These calls provide opportunities for deepening relationships, networking between and within schools, and demonstrating techniques. Each month we touch on a couple of professional development topics and lesson ideas, and we collect ideas and resources from the group. Finally, we always make time for questions and sharing successes. Often one teacher will have a specific question that another teacher or teachers can answer!

Upcoming topics for this Spring:

  • Winter friendly outdoor explorations
  • Community Science and tracking natural events
  • Equity in the classroom (and online!)
  • Practical routines for student-centered teaching
  • Journaling for learning

Learn more about anticipated topics covered during meetings by clicking on the events above!

The Community for Schoolyard Teaching and Learning is supported through funding from

This community is free to join to ensure accessibility to all educators. However, facilitating such programming comes at a cost. If you are interested in supporting this effort, or collaborating with Tremont and the Knox County Health Department, please contact [email protected].