Place-based education is a new idea
and it lacks administrative support.
Build a foundation of knowledge with key administrators
- Give administrators and school board members packets of information that include a white paper, PEER evaluations with quotes and facts that prove program success.
- Invite experienced place-based practitioners to the school to meet with administrators.
Enlist parent support
- Hold outdoor community events for parents and students.
- Produce an exhibit about a PBE project to share with your community.
- Offer many different ways for parents to become active participants.
- Network with parent/teacher associations to find parent allies.
- Build a presence on the school website, then ask parents to help write a quarterly e-newsletter.
Expand faculty and co-worker involvement
- Host a project brainstorming party at your home for co-workers
- Grow the team: consider the assets of the entire faculty to find the specific skill sets needed for your project.
- Build involvement around specific projects one teacher at a time rather than trying to build broad support at a staff meeting where everyone wants to move on to their own agenda.
- Ask for help early in the planning phase rather than only in the implementation phase. Planning advice and support is cheap, a relatively easy way to become involved, and it builds buy-in early.
- Make liberal use of the bulletin boards.
- Sell project relevancy: these are “cool” project opportunities that result in real community change, so “be there or be square.”
- Ask participating faculty what you can do for them: reciprocity can lead to integrated curricula.
Provide faculty with opportunities for professional development specific to PBE
- Call in the PD providers –PBE professionals are flexible and networked
- Provide opportunities for peer to peer sharing
- Develop a guest lecturer program – natural resource professionals trained to teach class for a block/period (instead of typical subs) so teacher can leave for PD
Build community support
- Describe your project and approach in the town report: make an announcement about it and recognize involved citizens at town meeting.
- Use local media to generate buzz about your project and to recognize community funders.
- Send out press releases and notify local papers when there’s a community project involving students. In all media presentations, show how your project links school students to efforts to improve the social, economic and environmental health of the community.
- Involve all segments of the community – natives, newcomers, lower-income households, etc.
- Ask locals—including the taciturn old-timers!—what they think are the biggest problems facing their community then ask them how you and your students might help solve it. Provide lemonade and cookies.
- Take on an oral history project and put the interview on the local access channel.
Build student leadership
- Try to identify a thread that links student interests to the outdoors.
- Create a classroom based on safety and risk-taking.
- Choose a problem students are really interested in: their interest is the starting point of discovery.
- Find a connection or “hook” that helps students understand how the project will effect them, their families, neighbors and friends.
- Remember that your energy is contagious (good or bad), so take care of yourself.
- Work across curriculum so students see connections.