Exploring Teacher Anxiety in Relation to Outdoor Teaching and Learning Hamnett, Jackie
I believed students should be outdoors more often for learning, but I felt anxious about ensuring I was doing a good job as a teacher with respect to the curriculum. Why was I, a teacher with 30 years experience, feeling so anxious about this aspect of my teaching? I wondered, what was causing my anxiety and how I could resolve that feeling? Over a period of 5 months, I took my grade 4/5 class of 23 public elementary school students outdoors for teaching and learning at least two days a week out of the four days I worked. I conducted a self-study and took a qualitative research approach in collecting data. During our outdoor explorations, I kept a journal, wrote field notes, took photographs, examined students’ work in relation to our outdoor explorations, wrote reflections and discussed my journal entries and reflections with critical friends. Using a latent thematic analysis method allowed me to analyse and report on patterns within my data, independently, by comparing two data sets or by finding a topic in the whole data set. From analysis of my data, I was able to identify three main themes and sub themes: Teaching- curriculum and intentionality, Learning – my learning and student learning- physical activity, experiential, safety, and engagement and finally Emotions- my feelings and student feelings. The results showed my anxiety was evident across the three themes throughout but by the end of my self-study I had a better understanding of my anxiety and what was causing it. I saw the positive effects the outdoors had on mine and students’ wellbeing and across a variety of subject areas and competencies which helped me feel more confident about taking my class outdoors for explorations. I plan to continue developing a cross-curricular outdoor programme.
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