The Forest School principles are a useful tool for Forest School Practitioners to check in with as part of their ongoing development. One of them states that “Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.”
After the last Forest School Association conference and a conversation about wonky wheels with Jo Philips of Essex Country Parks I developed a reflective tool for myself and for Forest School trainees that I work with.
Over the last few CPD and training sessions I have delivered for Forest School practitioners I have been trying to come up with a broad range of categories for reflection. These are the 8 categories I use currently, although this is a work in progress;
- Understanding Risk and safe working – including Risk Benefit Analysis and Procedures.
- Knowledge about Nature and how to manage the impact on the natural environment.
- Springboards– The offers, suggestions and ideas I can give to the groups I work with.
- Understanding and application of the Ethos of Forest School.
- Understanding about and ability to facilitate Play.
- Hard Skills like fire lighting, carving and using tools and knots etc.
- Theories of learning, behaviour and development.
- Observing, recording and communicating about Outcomes.
How to use this tool;
Each category is something to reflect on. Like a tree, your capacities grow. The smaller it is the more there is to develop.
There is always room for growth but this is about highlighting where you feel you need to focus your attention, your CPD, your reflections and your learning. In the principles it states; “The Forest School leader is a reflective practitioner and sees themselves, therefore, as a learner too.”
Mark dots on the circles to show how well grown that area feels for you. The nearer the centre the more growth is needed. The nearer the edge the more it has grown already. Use lots of dots in one category if you feel like there are lots of separate elements. After you have marked all the dots join them up. You should have a wonky wheel that shows which areas could do with attention.
We will be using this as one of many tools to help people identify what they need at our next Re:kindling CPD (Professional Development) session. For more information have a look at our training page.
Feel free to leave a comment if you have found this useful or you have other categories that you think should be included.