Experiential Outdoor Learning in the Schoolyard

A Hands-on Conference Featuring the Work of Susan Humphries

Green Schoolyards America is organizing a two-day conference in the San Francisco Bay Area on Sept. 27-28, 2019, featuring the amazing work of our colleague, Susan Humphries—recognized as one of the international founders of the green schoolyard movement. Her work over 50 years at The Coombes School in England has influenced outdoor experiential education at schools around the world.

A student works on a nature-based art project at The Coombes School in England.

A student works on a nature-based art project at The Coombes School in England.

DATES
Friday, September 27, 2019 and Saturday, September 28, 2019
9:00 am – 3:30 pm, both days

PROGRAM THEMES
Sept. 27th: Hands-on Teaching and Learning in a Green Schoolyard
Sept. 28th: Making the Most of Asphalt-Covered School Grounds

LOCATION
Hosted by Golestan School, 320 San Carlos Avenue, El Cerrito, CA 94530

AUDIENCE
Our conference is open to the public. It is designed as professional development for preschool and elementary school teachers, and is also well suited to after-school and childcare staff, educators in non-formal settings, garden teachers, designers of children’s environments, and members of the public interested in children’s wellbeing, learning, and play. We hope you will join us!

ENROLLMENT REQUIRED
Conference fees and enrollment information are listed below. Please scroll down for more information. Conference participants can register for one or both days. Discounted Early Enrollment pricing is available through September 12, 2019. Payment can be made by check or credit card.

It is only once all the senses are engaged that we can begin to immerse children in learning.
— Susan Humphries

Experiential learning in action at the coombes school in England.

Experiential learning in action at the coombes school in England.

Experiential learning in action at the coombes school in England.

Experiential learning in action at the coombes school in England.

Program OVERVIEW

We are honored to feature the work of our esteemed colleague, Susan Humphries, MBE, MA, throughout this two-day conference. Ms. Humphries will travel from England to share her expertise and deep understanding of how to use school grounds to foster children’s learning, play, and happiness. She brings a wealth of knowledge in teaching methods that are based on hands-on outdoor experiences and a deep understanding of both child development and the natural world.

Our program will include a keynote presentation each day with vibrant examples drawn from Ms. Humphries’s inspiring work at The Coombes School in Berkshire, England, where she was the Founding Headteacher (principal) and led the school for almost four decades.

The first day of our event will focus on creating and using schoolyard green spaces and nature for hands-on learning. The second day will emphasize enriching outdoor learning practices that don’t require established natural areas and can be accomplished in schoolyards that are largely paved. We encourage participants to enroll in both days of the conference, but attending on a single day is also possible.

Part of the geology trail at The coombes school in England.

Part of the geology trail at The coombes school in England.

Both days of conference will also include hands-on workshops designed to bring Ms. Humphries’s teaching philosophy and methodology to life, and provide resources and ideas that participants will be able to use at their own schools. Each day will include six short experiential workshops that showcase different aspects of the approach at The Coombes School. All conference participants will rotate through each workshop to get a taste of the teaching approach and try their hand at each activity.

All twelve of the workshops over the two days will feature the natural affinity we all have for the arts. The workshops will blend poetry, visual art, display, and performance with science, math, experiential history, and writing. Many of the workshops will emphasize hands-on investigation, observation skills, and analysis, team work and cooperation, imagery and symbolism. Others will highlight the magic and wonder of the natural world, a sense of place, contemplation and reflection, empathy, and peace.


Experiential learning in action at the coombes school in England.

Experiential learning in action at the coombes school in England.

AGENDA

outdoor music lesson at the coombes school in England.

outdoor music lesson at the coombes school in England.

Friday, September 27th: 9:00 am – 3:30 pm

THEME: An introduction to the Coombes Approach, with emphasis on creating and using green school grounds across the curriculum

9:00 am Welcome
Opening keynote slide presentation by Susan Humphries and discussion
10:30 am Networking coffee break
10:45 am Experiential workshops: Part 1
(Each participant will rotate through three workshops)
12:15 pm Lunch (provided)
1:00 pm Experiential workshops: Part 2
(Each participant will rotate through three additional workshops)
2:40 pm Group reflections on the workshop experiences
3:10 pm Closing presentation and discussion
3:30 pm Conclude Day 1

schoolyard pond at the coombes school in England.

schoolyard pond at the coombes school in England.

Saturday, September 28th: 9:00 am – 3:30 pm

THEME: Making the most of a paved school ground – Ideas and inspiration from The Coombes School

9:00 am Welcome
Keynote slide presentation #2 by Susan Humphries and discussion
10:30 am Networking coffee break
10:45 am Experiential workshops: Part 3
(Each participant will rotate through three new workshops)
12:15 pm Lunch (provided)
1:00 pm Experiential workshops: Part 4
(Each participant will rotate through three additional workshops)
2:40 pm Group reflections on the workshop experiences
3:10 pm Closing ceremony
3:30 pm Conclude Day 2


Susan humphries

Susan humphries

Visiting Speaker

SUSAN HUMPHRIES, MBE, MA, is the Founding Headteacher of The Coombes School in Berkshire, England. Her work at Coombes over 50 years has influenced outdoor experiential education for schools around the world. She brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise in teaching methods that are based on outdoor experiences and a deep understanding of both the natural world and child development. She is recognized as one of the international founders of the green schoolyard movement, and has provided professional development training for hundreds of teachers.

In 2011, Ms, Humphries was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Faculty of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, Sweden to acknowledge the foundations she has laid in building individual and group responsibility for healthy ecosystems and use of natural resources. In 2012, Humphries collaborated with her colleague Susan Rowe to write a book called The Coombes Approach: Learning through an Experimental and Outdoor Curriculum, to share teaching methods used at the school. In 2018, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International School Grounds Alliance to recognize the formative impact her ideas have had on the green schoolyard movement across the globe.

We are thrilled to welcome Susan Humphries to the Bay Area to share her work!

Experiential learning in action at the coombes school in England.

Experiential learning in action at the coombes school in England.

 
At the Coombes we only had one rule: we care for each other. In this spirit, we all taught one another—children learnt from other children, teachers learnt from other teachers. The environment established was one of non-competition, but cooperation. The children grew together and moderated each other’s behaviour.
— Susan Humphries

Golestan school, El Cerrito, CA

Golestan school, El Cerrito, CA

 
 

Location

The conference will be hosted by our colleagues at Golestan School, on their beautiful school grounds in El Cerrito, California.

ADDRESS: Golestan School, 320 San Carlos Avenue, El Cerrito, CA 94530

BART: The El Cerrito Plaza BART station is 0.6 miles from the school. Here is a link to directions for the 10-15 minute walk between the station and the school.

PARKING: Parking is available in the parking lot across the street from Golestan School, and along streets in the neighborhood.

OTHER TRAVEL: Two airports are close to Golestan School: Oakland International Airport (17 miles) and San Francisco International Airport (27 miles). Both airports are accessible via the BART (metro) system. If you will be traveling from out of town to attend the conference, we recommend booking a hotel that is also located near a BART station to avoid renting a car. There are many hotels in Berkeley and Oakland.


Experiential learning in action at the coombes school in England.

Experiential learning in action at the coombes school in England.

Enrollment

Pre-enrollment is required to attend the conference. We recommend enrolling early. Conference participants can register for one or two days.

DISCOUNTED EARLY ENROLLMENT PRICING is available through September 12, 2019, with prices as follows:

  • Discounted Early Enrollment: 2 DAYS (Entire Event) $300

  • Discounted Early Enrollment: 1 DAY (Friday or Saturday) $165

Experiential learning in action at the coombes school in England.

Experiential learning in action at the coombes school in England.

REGULAR ENROLLMENT pricing will be available from September 13 - 26, 2019.

  • Regular Enrollment: 2 DAYS (Entire Event) $350

  • Regular Enrollment: 1 DAY (Friday or Saturday) $185

PAYMENT: We can accept payment by check or credit card.

To pay with credit card: Please follow this link to register and pay.

To pay by check: Please make checks payable to “Earth Island Institute” and write “Green Schoolyards America” in the check’s memo section. Please send checks to:

Experiential learning in action at the coombes school in England.

Experiential learning in action at the coombes school in England.

Earth Island Institute
Attn: Green Schoolyards America - Conference
2150 Allston Way, Suite 460
Berkeley, CA 94704-1375

Please also enclose the following information for each person you are registering, when you send payment by check:

  • Participant’s Name

  • Participant’s Title and Organization

  • Date(s) Attending the Conference (Sept. 27, Sept 28, or both days)

  • Participant’s Email Address

walking a labyrinth at the coombes school in england

walking a labyrinth at the coombes school in england

GROUP ENROLLMENT: We offer discounted enrollment for groups of 5 or more participants enrolling together. Our group rates are:

  • 10% off for groups of 5-9 people enrolling with the same check

  • 15% off for groups of 10 or more people enrolling with the same check

Please contact us for more information about enrolling groups: info@greenschoolyards.org

REFUND POLICY: Conference enrollment is nonrefundable, but tickets are transferable. If you have enrolled and would like to transfer your enrollment to someone else, please contact: info@greenschoolyards.org

In the unlikely event that Green Schoolyards America has to cancel the conference, all paid enrollments will be refunded.


playtime at the coombes school in england.

playtime at the coombes school in england.

DONATIONS

CONFERENCE EQUITY FUND

We would like to be able to provide discounted conference enrollment to teachers from Title 1 schools, to spread the magic of outdoor experiential learning to more children. To do this, we need your help!  Donations of any size are very welcome.

If you would like to contribute to this scholarship fund, please make a donation by sending a check to us at the address above or by using the donation link below. Thank you very much for your generosity!


Questions?

If you have questions or would like more information about the event, please contact us: info@greenschoolyards.org


CONFERENCE Partner

We extend a heartfelt thank you to our collaborating partners at Golestan Education for hosting the conference on their beautiful school grounds!