Last night was our first session of Forest Teacher Training certification. Having participated in the Introductory to Forest School course, I already knew some of the instructors and the format of the learning modules. What I wasn’t prepared for was the amazing variety of people I would meet! Our teacher and guide began by saying, “If we only met for 30 minutes, the best way to spend those minutes would be to meet one another and listen to one another’s stories….”
There were over twelve states represented – and one dear Italian woman who now resides in Switzerland. In many ways, the technology offered by Zoom added to this experience instead of only detracting from our meeting in-person. I listened to each person share only their name and location and then, what brings them joy. As you might imagine, with a bunch of naturalist the themes of joy surrounded hiking, nature, gardening, spending time with family and children outdoors, etc. But there were also some creatives in the group that shared their nature journals, pottery they’d created, and even framed maps of beloved National Parks in-lieu of pictures on hand.
As we completed the introductions, and our guide began to transition to the evening’s topic on learning and engagement, he was quick to point out the the kinship we had just experienced was key to BOTH. Indeed, the storytelling, interdependency and sharing of it all is part of the magic that makes the forest school movement so compelling.
I learned so many useful facts about learning and engagement in a forest school setting and how to convey these people I might be trying to “win over.” But my heartfelt takeaway for the evening, was the kinship I kept as I left the meeting.