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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With some focused professional development, quality resources, and opportunities to practice, teachers can bring the wonder of learning outdoors right into their schoolyards.

Outdoor experiential education in schoolyards can provide opportunities for both educators and students to learn and grow, with proven benefits to physical, emotional, and social health. This is doubly important during this time of pandemic when being outdoors is safer. While we look forward to a future where outdoor learning is the norm, we also recognize that using schoolyards as classrooms can pose challenges.

The purpose of this network is to create a community of practice within our East Tennessee region where educators and community partners can connect, share, and get excited about engaging with students in their schoolyards!

We invite you to become part of this movement!

Little girl holds a magnifying glass to her eye while smiling at the camera

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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.”

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!

Professional development/lessons this fall:

  • How-to’s of Mapping your Schoolyard
  • 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].