My Adventures Are Finished…

End of Placement Reflection

I can’t honestly believe I have finished my placement. I am thoroughly gutted my time at Adventure Aberdeen has come to an end. This placement has been a huge eye opener for myself.

Although over the past six weeks have been full on and there have been tears sometimes from the amount of energy I have used and the lack of sleep I have had, I would not swap this experience: this placement has definitely changed me personally and professionally for the better.blog5

Personally and professionally, this placement has definitely given me a wider view on outdoor education. With outdoor education growing into a much bigger part of teaching through the Curriculum for Excellence as well as it being something you need to be able to do to remain register on the General Teaching Council Scotland, I am glad I have had this opportunity to experience outdoor education. I have been able to go on amazing outdoor education sessions which I can definitely take into my own pedagogy including bikeability, scavenger hunts, wilderness skills, mountain biking (Go MTB scheme) to name a few. I have also been given the opportunity to challenge myself, try new things and overcome fears which I could easily be asked to do with a child/group as a teacher such as coasteering, surfing, canoeing, gorge walking, rock climbing and abseiling. All of these activities I couldn’t do without a qualified tutor but is now something I would definitely not say no to doing.

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Professionally, I used to think that outdoor education in the rain was not a good idea especially with small children. I compared it with Sweden and did wonder how they managed in. Now after placement, outdoor education is a year round option in my opinion. Yes it can be cold but it snowed every day for my fifth week at Adventure Aberdeen and we never cancelled any of the sessions. Yes there were changes to the plan but we were still taking children outdoors. However, I now know that you just have to be prepared and not be afraid to change the lesson then we can always take education outdoors.

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Flexibility around sessions/lessons is a huge thing I have taken away. In first year, I tried to stick to my lesson plan to the word most of the time. However, around 95 percent of the time with Adventure Aberdeen some part of the plan changed. However, there wasn’t a bad session I was out on but if the tutors were not flexible there would have been which is a key lesson I will take away.

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(It might have been snowing but we were still outdoors and smiling!)

 

 

I have read and realised through hands on experience just how much children get from outdoor education. You may be teaching about one thing but the outdoor is so free that there are a number of different things a child can and will take away from the session and the tutors do not always realise how much depth and breadth a child can take from their sessions educationally and personally.IMG_0410 (2)

The biggest thing I have taken away, personally and professionally, from my placement is the thoughts I have been having around my future career. Although I know I want to work with children to make a difference for children. I am not so sure I know if I want that to be in a classroom. I am not naïve, I know this isn’t always a hands on, adventurous job: it has its own challenges and its own stresses. However, I also know that I have had a phenomenal time this last six weeks and I did not want to leave. I am now looking into doing a postgraduate degree in outdoor education after I finish my degree and do my probationary year, whilst also gaining some outdoor education qualifications in the meantime. I am not saying I would never teach, I do thoroughly also enjoy teaching in a classroom but this maybe something I still decide to do. But right now, teaching is looking like something I would come back to later after I have the chance to experience some more outdoor education. I now personally and professionally thoroughly have a massive love for outdoor education and the outdoors.

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I have thoroughly enjoyed this placement and I am very grateful for all of the opportunities I have had through the learning for life module and Adventure Aberdeen. These six weeks have been phenomenal and I have done things I will never forget.blog

What is Cromdale?

During the 21st to the 24th of March, I am going to be going to Cromdale as part of my placement with Adventure Aberdeen. Therefore I thought I should do a post all about the wonder of Cromdale, one before and one after going there.

“Cromdale Outdoor Centre is Adventure Aberdeen’s residential base on Speyside. Converted from a Victorian village school and schoolhouse it is located in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. It is ideally located within easy reach of some of the most spectacular water and land based activity sites in Scotland. The base is perfect for all groups involved in outdoor activities or courses.

Cromdale is situated right in the heart of the Cairngorms, here you can experience the natural beauty of Speyside. From the outstanding waters and unusual wildlife to the towering mountains, this area is known for its breath-taking scenery. Step outside and be greeted by Scotland at its very best. Cromdale Centre is ideally based for a variety of outdoor activities and visits. Venues easily accessible from the centre include:

  • The River Spey (300m from the centre) – access and egress for kayaks, canoes and white water rafts
  • The Speyside Way (200m from the centre) – gentle and scenic walking and biking on waymarked trails.
  • The Cromdale Hills (500m from centre) – excellent and extensive hill walking country with superb views of the Cairngorms and Speyside.
  • Huntly’s Cave (7 miles) – superb rock climbing and abseiling venue.
  • Bridge of Brown Gorge (10 miles) – one of Scotland’s premier gorge walking locations.
  • The Lecht (21 miles) and Cairngorm Mountain (27 miles) – for fantastic ski-ing, downhill mountain biking and hill walking activities with ski-lift and funicular railway access.
  • A multitude of venues for glen or hill walks – Adventure Aberdeen can provide guides and/or instruction.
  • Official Forestry Commission Mountain Biking centres at Moray Monster Trails (20 miles) or Laggan Wolftrax (45 miles).
  • Extensive off-road cycling within the Spey and Cairngorms areas – Adventure Aberdeen can provide guides and/or instruction.
  • Aviemore and Carrbridge areas have many visitor attractions. The Aviemore tourist office or website can provide more details” (Adventure Aberdeen, no date, no page).

My reading has shown the importance for residential outdoor education as well as the importance of a residential trip in the Curriculum for Excellence so I am looking forward to heading to Cromdale to experience this for myself as part of the tutor team.

 

Reference

Adventure Aberdeen (no date) Residential Packages Available at: http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/AdventureAberdeen/Outdooreducation/adventure_residential_packages.asp (Accessed on 17/03/16)

Adventure Aberdeen – Am I Ready?

With our learning from life placement coming round quickly – I thought I would reflect on my experiences I have so far that will help with my time at Adventure Aberdeen.

The main categories of experience I feel that will be of use in this placement are: my first year placement, my work, my experiences from secondary school and university lectures on outdoor education.

My main reason for choosing Adventure Aberdeen was based on my own keen interesting in sports from my upbringing and my work life. I have worked as casual staff for Aberdeenshire Council for over 3 years now as a Leisure Attendant (lifeguard), an Aquatics Instructor and a Coaching Assistance. I had a variety of sporting qualifications and experience teaching sports in different environments outside of a school. This has mainly become apart of my adult life due to my keen interest in sports as a child. I feel that this background of experiences in sports will help me when out on placement with Adventure Aberdeen.

I also have a job as a Sessional Playworker at The Yard Scotland: an indoor and outdoor adventure centre for children with additional support needs (ASN). This job gives me great experience working hands on with children who have ASN in a playful setting and gives me the opportunity to learn about different ASN that I may meet in a classroom. As well as this I feel that this will be useful experience when I go on placement at Adventure Aberdeen as when I visited Adventure Aberdeen before securing my placement I was told of the work they do with children with ASN which means thanks to my part time job at The Yard I will already have experiences of working with children with ASN outside of a classroom.

In my first year placement at university, there were so many things I gained from this placement it would be impossible to go through it all. However, the main things I felt I learnt from this placement was planning and delivery of lessons, organisation, keeping my folio of evidence and about different ASN needs in the classroom. These are all things that I feel will impact on placement at Adventure Aberdeen in different ways.

Throughout secondary school, I feel I gained multiple different experiences that will continue to assist my journey through placement at Adventure Aberdeen. I gained my Community Sports Leaders Award (CSLA) in my sixth year of academy which meant I was also selected for the Aberdeenshire Leaders programme in 2014. This means that I knowledge on a range of different sports, qualification and voluntary experiences through gaining my CSLA qualification and my place on the Aberdeenshire Leaders programme.

The last area of experiences I feel that will assist me through my placement is my lectures in Outdoor Education. Although one of the reasons I chose this placement was also down to the fact we do not have enough time at university to be lucky enough to have many lectures on Outdoor Education. On the other hand, I knew this was something I wanted to be able to include in my practice when I am a qualified teachers and knew this was the time I could use to gain some experience in this area. However, we do have some inputs on Outdoor Education such as the one I blogged about before on Literacy and History, which you can read here, which I will be able to use the information we have been given in these lectures and workshops for my placement. I know this is an area I will look to develop through this placement through the hands on experience Adventure Aberdeen can provide me with as well as through reading up on different ideas I can use.

So far, I feel I have many skills and an array of knowledge that I can use for my placement this year and there are areas that I am looking forward to developing through the experience at Adventure Aberdeen.

What is Adventure Aberdeen?

For my learning from life placement I have chosen to go to Adventure Aberdeen. Throughout this placement, we are given the freedom to record our experiences in any form. I have chosen to blog about my time at Adventure Aberdeen so I can include photographs, videos or links to anything I am doing on placement.

Therefore, before I start to blog about my placement I thought I would explain a little bit about Adventure Aberdeen. aa-logo

Adventure Aberdeen is a not for profit organisation within Aberdeen City Council which works with children ranging from preschool to secondary school for Outdoor Education. Although the organisation is not just for schools and they do packages for everyone – I will mainly be working with children of school age so I am going to focus mainly on what they do with children at school.

Adventure Aberdeen’s mission statement is “We strive to: ‘Inspire Learning through Adventure’.” They do this mainly through Outdoor Education which a huge part of the Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland. Adventure Aberdeen state “by immersing individuals (sometimes physically!) into a new natural environment, all the body’s physical senses, emotions and key social skills are used to rationalise the situation and learn.” This is a chance for children to develop their practical intelligence from Sternberg’s triarchic theory of intelligence (1997).

One of Adventure Aberdeen’s main site for providing learning in the outdoors is at Cromdale Outdoor Centre, their residential base, which is located in Speyside at the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. Adventure Aberdeen can adapted their residential programme to suit every group. After my discussion with the staff at Adventure Aberdeen, I am hopeful that I may get to spend a week at Cromdale Outdoor Centre and work with a residential group.

Adventure Aberdeen have different programmes from preschool, primary and secondary children with different learning opportunities to help meet the Outdoor Learning experiences and outcomes in Curriculum for Excellence which I hope to be able to be apart of throughout this placement.

This has just been a brief post to give some more information about Adventure Aberdeen, who they are and what they do. There is more information on everything they do on their website, which you can access here.