Hi again! I’m Sam, the Teva intern for the summer and I wanted to again share my experiences one last time before the summer ends. I had “met” the Topsy Turvy bus and crew earlier in the summer, but had yet to observe their program. I had a general idea of what to expect (giving children tours of the bus and teaching the power of community and sustainable living), but I definitely was not expecting to see what I saw…
When I think “classroom,” I think of whiteboards and blackboards, chairs surrounding table perimeters, clocks, colorful decorations and vocabulary words adorning the walls. These are the main components that comprise the ideal elementary school classroom. Teachers close doors and may even lower the blinds on windows to shut out any outside distractions. This is the best way to capture and hold the children’s attentions and teach lessons….right?
The Topsy Turvy Bus Crew is working to shift from this classroom model and proving that with the right programming and materials, teaching CAN be done in a different environment: the environment. So what happens when we open those doors and teach outside?
I saw the outdoor classroom model in action during my visit to the Sephardic Community Center in Brooklyn. As I arrived, the Topsy Turvy bus was parked in the street in front as a group of ten or so five-year-olds were disembarking the bus and walking towards the blender bike stationed in front of the building. As they made their way towards the next station, two Teva educators were already introducing the next group to the enormous yellow topsy-turvy spectacle.
At the bike blender station, the educators asked individuals of the group to share what they had eaten for breakfast that morning. As the students alternated, each taking turns to pedal and power the blender, the educators explain the human potential to generate their own power. The breakfast food provides the human body with energy which we can then use to power the blender and make more food!
All of this took place outside on the concrete sidewalks of Brooklyn. Sure, most of Teva’s programs don’t take place in NYC. But even when they do, the educators were able to adapt and create an outdoor classroom space to teach valuable lessons to elementary school children for two hours.