by Hazel Stark
As the school year was winding down and spring was winding up in May 2018, a group of Jonesport Elementary School teachers worked with Maine Outdoor School Co-Founder/Co-CEO Hazel Stark to learn about how they could build resilience in their students through outdoor learning.
They began by engaging in an outdoor activity that teachers could use with their students. Teachers decided to focus on woodpeckers for the activity, noticing the prevalence of woodpecker holes in the poplar trees behind the school. Half the teachers were tasked with finding where a woodpecker could find food in the forest and the other was tasked with finding or building an appropriate woodpecker shelter. Through this activity, teachers were surprised to realize how much they already knew about woodpeckers, who was especially good at finding bugs, and who was particularly excited about building a model of a woodpecker nest--all lessons they realized were transferable to their own classrooms.
Returning back inside, they started to focus on the concept of resilience: what is it, what builds it, and how positive outdoor learning experiences can help foster resilience. They were able to relate the theory behind resilience and outdoor education to the outdoor activity they had just experienced.
At the end of the workshop, one teacher reflected: “Something I will take away from today is hope!” Another teacher reflected, “[I will be] working to change my mindset--not all learning needs to take place indoors.”
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