Our school moved some of the classrooms to 100% outside learning due to rising COVID numbers this week, and yesterday was the first rainy day. As I watched the teachers stress levels get dangerously high, I contemplated my first year teaching outside. It was HARD. I lost my voice several times that first year because I found myself yelling over all the outdoor noises like traffic and lawnmowers. I craved the calm, slower energy of the indoor classroom. I struggled to set up and clean up materials outside. And the plethora of distractions was exhausting. So why was I doing it?
I moved to teaching outside because I enjoy less structure and more impromptu discoveries. Teaching inside I had every minute of the day planned. Outside, I planned a couple things, but really, I got to follow the children and follow the natural flows of nature. I felt healthier outside, mentally and physically. The book, "Last Child in the Woods" was just 10 years old at the time, and already a cornerstone of my foundation as a parent and educator. I knew that being outside was better for all of us.
As a parent, I watched my son grow up outside, curious, focused on things I didn't even notice. It was the image of him that I held in my mind yesterday. At five years old, with his rain boots and umbrella, splashing around in the mud and puddles with the biggest smile on his face. His giggles filled me with joy and ease. His pure energy, connected with himself and the earth, spread to me and to everything around him. This is what life is all about. He taught me to let my guard down and just play and be in the moment. Not think about getting the house wet & muddy, or about the extra laundry, or the need for a bath. It is this moment that I wish I could have conveyed to the teachers yesterday. The connection, the joy, the realization that there are more important things in life then what we had planned for the day.
I've learned to embrace and accept rainy days when teaching. Most of the kids LOVE it. It's just the adults around them that worry and fear the inconveniences of wet, muddy kids. Rainy days mean we all get to put aside our plans and just play for a little while. And boy, does it cause our cups to overflow if we let it happen.