Professional Learning Program

REAL School Gardens’ Professional Learning Program

REAL School Gardens provides teachers with the tools and training they need to implement effective experiential lessons outdoors.  Through multi-faceted partnerships with elementary schools, we offer professional learning proven to increase teacher effectiveness and job satisfaction while boosting student achievement.

Professional Learning Program

All partnerships with REAL School Gardens center around a two-year Professional Learning Program which makes it easy for teachers to get students deeply engaged and excited about learning.

Schools with a usable learning garden can start receiving our Professional Learning Program immediately.  Low-income schools without a learning garden can request one of our “Big Dig” outdoor classroom-building events.  Once schools have an area that can work as an outdoor classroom, all partners receive our Professional Learning Program.

The Professional Learning Program is comprised of four key parts:

Class Outdoors

Planning

At partnership launch, and over the course of the program, we facilitate working sessions with the principal and instructional leadership to ensure that our training and curricula are integrated into the overall instructional plan for the school. Instructional integration ensures that students are engaged in hands-on learning in core subjects routinely and teachers have a clear path to success.

Group Sessions

In year one, we conduct two sessions with the full staff. We provide a pedagogical framework for teachers to explore how facilitating experiential learning outdoors improves outcomes for students and provides teachers with opportunities to teach state standards in literacy, math and science with engaging, effective instructional techniques. In year two, we reflect on and share successes of the partnership as well as create a plan to ensure the outdoor classroom is fully-utilized in coming years

Instructional Coaching

We provide two years of instructional coaching for teachers, tailoring proven experiential learning techniques to each teacher’s individual needs and the grade- level scope and sequence. A cohort of 6 teacher leaders are selected to participate in instructional coaching cycles each year.

Additional Support

Partner schools receive access to our Digital Education Platform which provides standards-aligned lesson plans and training “on-demand”.  The platform also allows teachers to share their experiences with one another and receive feedback from our coaches. Additionally, all Garden Coordinators from our partner schools participate in our Evergreen Group Training 3 times per year creating a network between partner schools to share best practices.

REAL Results

By the end of our Professional Learning Program, teachers will be able to:

Create and implement standards-aligned, STEM-infused lesson plans that integrate the outdoor classroom as a tool

Utilize the outdoor space to academically challenge students to apply knowledge to solve meaningful, real-world problems

Foster important cognitive and social-emotional skills such as collaboration and problem solving using the outdoor classroom

Increase student engagement through student-driven, exploration-based learning

After teachers complete the program, students are able to:

— Use the outdoor classroom to solve relevant real-world problems
— Apply knowledge and skills in innovative and engaging ways
— Be active learners in a setting that supports all learning styles

Schools that already have an outdoor learning space can enroll in the Professional Learning Program immediately or elect to enhance their space with key academic features. Schools without an outdoor learning space can apply to receive a new state-of-the-art outdoor classroom built by REAL School Gardens.

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