The Great Outdoors

It’s almost June. The weather is beautiful. Teachers are taking “sick” days to use up unbankable paid days off (no judgment here; I appreciate the substitute calls that come from it). Most courses are nearing the end of their content.


Schools aren’t always air-conditioned, and students are going insane. Work isn’t going to get done. The best thing to do is to go outside. Here are some guidelines to make that as easy on you as possible:

  • Before You Go Outside:
    1. Make sure you know the lay-out of the school yard and pick a specific spot you will be going to. Drill it into the students before going outside exactly where you’ll be congregating for the period.
    2. Tell students your expectations for the time outside: same lesson but a different location, extra gym time, free time, whatever. Make sure they know they need to bring out anything they will need for their work and won’t be permitted back inside (you may want to include a class-wide trip to the bathroom at this time too).
    3. Tell students by which hallways/stairwells to travel and door to exit the school, in an attempt to keep the stampede as controlled as possible. If they are too loud on the way out, don’t hesitate to shut the whole operation down and bring the students back to class.
    4. Call the office and let them know what class you have and where you will be.
    5. Stay in front of the class, perfect the art of walking backwards, and stop along the way (at stairwells, fire-doors, etc.) to give the back of the class a chance to catch up. Make sure you don’t lose anyone along the way.
  • When You’re Outside:
    1. Make sure you have a way back in (Is the door locked? Does your key open it? What can you use to prop the door open?)
    2. Know the exact number of students in the class and count heads all the time (aka, don’t lose anyone).
    3. Make sure you can see everyone from your vantage point. Unfortunately time outside for the teacher isn’t a break like it is for the kids. My go-to line is “Please stay in my line of vision; if you can’t see my face, move so you can.”
    4. If you don’t want students back in the school during your time outside, stick to that. If they’re missing materials, they’ll have to do without; if they run out of work, they can help someone else or just enjoy the free time.
    5. The rules still apply, even when outside, so be sure to enforce the classroom rules and expectations, and use disciplinary measures when necessary.
  • When You’re Coming Back Inside:
    1. Give yourself enough time to get back to the classroom before the next subject, especially on the high school side when students need travel time between classes.
    2. If you had to prop the door open, make sure you don’t leave it propped open.
    3. Come back with time to spare, and take attendance when you return to the classroom, and report any students who “dismissed themselves early” back to their regular classroom teacher in your note.
    4. If “feel free to go outside” isn’t in the lesson plan left for you, let the teacher know that you deviated from the plan in that way (most likely, you’ll be saying “the class was so well-behaved and trustworthy that we were able to go outside,” and that’s always a nice note to read).
    5. Call the office to let them know the class is back inside, and to follow up on any students you may have had to send to see the principal.

And that’s it! (Ha.) Enjoy the fresh air!


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