COVID-19 UPDATE: The Harris Center building will be closed to visitors until further notice. Our trails and grounds remain open.

Taking Teaching Outside

September 4, 2020

Harris Center Helps Local Schools With Pandemic Preparations

A boy stands outside with a clipboard. (photo © Ben Conant)

Outdoor learning offers a reduced risk of virus transmission and provides both mental health and academic benefits. (photo © Ben Conant)

In preparation for the start of this extraordinary school year, Harris Center teacher-naturalists recently designed and delivered six days of professional development workshops for 300 local classroom teachers, thanks in part to funding from our 50th Anniversary Fund. The goal: to help them take their teaching into the fresh air, where virus transmission rates are much lower than indoor spaces.

The complete staff of Jaffrey Grade School, Rindge Memorial School, and all K-12 teachers in the ConVal School District joined Harris Center naturalists for a workshop on tips for teaching outside. We also trained teachers from Chesterfield, Keene, Harrisville, Marlborough, Stoddard, and ConVal in how to start and sustain a nature journaling curriculum that builds science and literacy skills.

After the training, one teacher wrote to say: “I am ending today with a much more optimistic vision of how we can turn a perceived adversity into extremely positive learning experiences.”

We commend these teachers for their creative, thoughtful, and adventurous approaches to this historic moment in schooling. Here’s to returning to school safely, joyfully, and with plenty of fresh air!