Lanark County Community Justice's BE STRONG Program partners
with UCDSB's Rural Elementary School's Outdoor Classroom Design process.
A Restorative Circle Garden as an Outdoor Classroom
on Maple Grove Elementary School Playground
Garden Classrooms and Restorative Practices on the Elementary School Playground
"The Garden is a master teacher of responsibility and decision making. In taking responsibility for a living, growing ecosystem that will endure past one class, students begin to co-create their (outdoor) classroom. In this way, garden-based learning goes beyond general experiential learning as it takes place in a very intentional, ever-changing environment." (Reference: Canadian Organic Growers. Growing Up Organic Toolkit, email@example.com)
The restorative relationship between Lanark's Maple Grove Elementary School, UCDSB and ( LCCJ) Lanark County Community Justice's 'BE STRONG' program (Building, Encouraging and Supporting Trusting Relationships on Neutral Ground) is a partnership in a collaborative Restorative Circle Garden project. This project gathers teachers, students (k-6), administration and LCCJ Circle Facilitators in a full day of passing the talking piece in the Knowledge Sharing Circle to share Restorative Circle Garden design ideas.
With attention to inclusivity, the Knowledge Sharing Circle is a restorative practice and pedagogical approach that supports a safe environment to exchange curriculum ideas and/or resolve conflict in an emotionally intelligent, cognitively aware and caring culture in the indoor and outdoor classrooms. With a Restorative Circle Garden, teachers and students can head outdoors to exercise their restorative practices should a conflict arise on the playground, or use the space to share an appreciation circle, or storytelling circle, music, and/or art in the garden...
Spring is upon us and students and teachers are not afraid to get their hands dirty when working with the soil and seeds in the warmth of south facing windows of the indoor classroom. Like Maple Grove, Drummond Central Public School is also transiting into the spring season as the students and teachers are keen to start seedlings in a meaningful experiential learning atmosphere. Drummond Central's students and teachers have exercised the Knowledge Sharing Circle as a core routine in their Outdoor Education program since September 2017.
Once all seeds/transplants are planted, students and teachers intend to implement a hands-on approach in their garden based education program that guides students into a greater understanding of food literacy, ecology, science, math, (eco)literacy, physical education and/or social studies when learning outdoors. Garden classroom learning gives rise to the future possibility of embedding all curriculum strands into a specialized ‘Learning Outside the Classroom Subject' slot in the timetable.
Lanark County Community Justice circle facilitators plan to engage Maple Grove's Earth Stewards in garden circle discussions about how we can make a positive impact on our communities, our society, and on our environment. With garden based classrooms and with the implementation of Lanark County Community Justice's restorative practices, it is evident that we are nurturing awareness in a culture of care for each other, our food, our health, our youth and for our environment.
For more information about Lanark County Community Justice programs in our community, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org . www.commjustice.org.