by Lisa Wojcik, program director of the SFUSD Environmental Science Center. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Not sure to do when you get there? The best introductory guide for educators’ field experiences in San Francisco is Finding Urban Nature, an Educators Guide to Exploring San Francisco Natural History. This publication is free, and often provides summer professional development workshops. The guidebook provides detailed prep tips to consider, bathroom locations, MUNI routes and ‘quick tips’ about each park. Important information about what to consider, how to pack and prepare are also included in this guide.
Not sure a trip is worth the extra effort? Increasing bodies of research cite that students’ time in natural settings improve enthusiasm about school, attendance, peer-to-peer relationships, and overall academic performance. A good introductory source for this research can be found here.
To start preparing for an outdoor excursion, we suggest focusing on the following:
- Plan early: If you are interested in a supported program look to register early as programs fill up. Partner programming offering educator support are available here: www.greenthenextgen.org
- Chaperones: Offsite programming is better with assistance. Work with a peer teacher or entire grade level to organize a school outing. You can also check-out SF School Volunteers if you need assistance finding a chaperone.
- Start your planning as early as possible, and begin to organize for your trip 1-month minimum before you leave.
- Organize groups, prepare name tags, prepare curriculum work and questions, and ensure risk management forms are in.
- Plan for student meals, or order free lunches for students. Outline dress policies for their trip date with guidelines for weather ( no heels, closed toed shoes, jackets, hats, etc.)
- Introduce students to the schedule for the day and set expectations.
- Go Early! Best weather for outdoor learning is September and October! By bringing students outside to learn this early, you will provide experiences and peer bonding that will last the entire year.