Helping Teachers Be a Part of the World Outside the Classroom

25 January 2017 Published in News

By Carrie Tuttle, PLATEAU Regional Coordinator

Imagine for a moment you are outdoors, in some fresh winter snow. Red rock and scrub surrounds you, and the crisp air brings liveliness to your step. You come upon a set of tracks, long thin foot shapes opposite one another, and then they join another set; padded feet with toenail marks. You wonder what has happened here; what animals were flushed out of the scrub? Was the larger set of padded feet a predator? What drives your thoughts here is curiosity. Curiosity, and a sense of wonder, is a place where we all begin in this world, from the youngest of children to the most senior of our elders.

PLATEAU, a program of Four Corners School of Outdoor Education, seeks to engage curiosity and sense of wonder in teachers of the Colorado Plateau. For 18 years PLATEAU (Place Based Learning and Teaching Enhances Academic Understanding) has reached out to teachers to enhance their teaching through place based instruction, intensive teacher trainings and a yearlong professional development program.

We hope to achieve, through the teacher training, confidence in teachers to impart this place-based knowledge to their students. Students learn best by being engaged with what is around them and through hands on education. So, armed with knowledge themselves teachers can guide their students into fun and informative learning sessions in the outdoors, or in the classroom, based on features in the landscape of their community. This could be the local culture, art, plants and animals, geology, or water resources. In a world where we are increasingly focused on technology and a larger world picture, PLATEAU helps teachers and students to be part of the world right outside the classroom.

As we go forward in to 2017, we at PLATEAU hope you will be mindful of what surrounds you every day, and encourage you to find out more about our program. The PLATEAU annual conference is March 4th and 5th at Canyon Country Discovery Center in Monticello, Utah for those interested in place-based and hands-on education are welcome. Please see our website for more information at:

If your school or district is interested in becoming part of the PLATEAU Project, or scheduling a customized workshop at your school, or on our campus, please call or email Shawn Stevens, Discovery Center Director, at 800-525-4456.