Part IV of the series, Using a Growth Mindset to Advance Healthy Schools

Every step is worth a celebration when it comes to greening your school!  Make sure to take time to acknowledge your wins, no matter how big or small on the way to your goal!

“How about we celebrate the opening of the outdoor classroom by having every teacher read to his or her class out there over the course of two days?”

Um, YES!

My principal emailed me the suggestion that we take the a twist on the idea of “read-across-a-school” day, and ask teachers to sign up in 15-minute increments so that the outdoor classroom was full every moment of the day. Wow. What a confirmation of the value of this new outdoor learning space I created in our school community!

Looking back at the last two years I’d been at my school leading up to this moment, I could see that my principal was 150% behind my vision of more outdoor learning. It took time, though, to help this vision grow among the teachers and student body. I never received any outright disagreement about connecting learning with the outdoors, just statement of realities about competing priorities: standards to teach, volunteer commitments needed, overburdening of teachers.

We are starting to work through these realities. Creating an outdoor learning space is a huge first stake in the ground.

We needed to celebrate this!

Too often I am so focused on planning my next big thing that I’m not satisfied by what I’ve accomplished. It’s a fine line to walk as a leader – how much to push for more, and how much to accept where we are for now. This is really a skill I’ve been examining and learning to harness for a while. Too often I’ve pushed for too much, only to run myself into the ground physically and mentally. That’s not sustainable for a leader. I’m glad I can see that now, so that even if I fall into this regressive habit, I can be mindful of it and get myself out of it.

“Yes,” I emailed back to my principal, “having a two-day outdoor reading celebration sounds wonderful. This is really a dream come true for me! Thank you!”

At least 20 of our classroom teachers took students to the new outdoor classroom during the week of October 2 to celebrate outdoor learning! My principal invited all teachers to schedule 15 minutes of time for “read alouds” so that as many of our Wolfie students as possible could have an experience learning in the fresh air.

Our outdoor classroom continues to be well-used! It seems that about 7 or 8 teachers are regularly using the space for outdoor read-alouds, and as rewards for positive classroom behavior.

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