Some of the challenges in building out the Outdoor Learning Lab project included limited cross-curricular planning time. Because my planning time as an educator in the English department did not align with my teacher collaborator in the agricultural department, we were not able to engage with one another as much as we’d like to in regards to the project timeline & opportunity for cross-curricular student collaboration throughout the project. Instead, to make this partnership work within the time & space provided, we worked together to form the overall vision that would transfer between English students & Horticulture students. This meant that English students developed prototypes that imagined, designed, & informed the sustainability classroom and upon completion, Horticultural students would assess & evaluate this work and ultimately build the project on Saul’s campus.
While I believe this process is an approach to YPAR, project-based learning, given the constraints, I acknowledge the areas of growth, especially in regards to cross-curricular teacher-to-teacher and student-to-student collaboration. Improvement in this area would increase the authenticity of the project so that all stakeholders are involved at each step of the process and have the opportunity to engage and provide input & feedback. In looking toward year 2 of the project, I hope to reconnect and reinvest English students in the project by supporting Horticulture students as they build the classroom on campus. This will be important in maintaining collaboration but also in assuring that all elements of the vision, specifically the connection & commitment to the values of Octavia Butler’s novel, Parable of the Sower. I feel confident that in learning into consistent collaboration in year 2 of this project, we will see the goals of the project come to fruition in developing a space for the Saul community to communicate and engage with one another around climate change, sustainability, and environmental justice.