Learning how to become a Permaculture Teacher

Permaculture Teacher Matters course by Alfred Decker and Candela Vargas has given me a set of tools for developing my teaching PDC courses. This is what I want to share with you.

We were about 14 people who spent 8 days at Ankhult, a farm located in Skåne, Southern Sweden. Special thanks to the Swedish association and the volunteers who were cooking delicious and local food. Sambrukets cooperative farm in Sosdala and its mission is to catalyze the transition in its neighborhood, establishing connections between people and business as well as supporting them.

Sessions were filled with workshops that could suit many learning styles. Participants were invited to work in pairs or groups, and sometimes asked to come to the whole group and share ideas and receive feedback.

The structure of the course was divided in 6 days, differentiating six different topics: Learning space, learners, teacher, learning tools, teaching methods and PDC-wrap up and evaluation.

One of the very first sessions consisted of presenting the ethics, course culture, class code and objectives for this course and sharing the student´s hopes for teaching in the future and expectations of this course.

Along the whole week, we had 5 assignments to prepare, 3 individually, one in pairs and the last one in groups. For each session, almost one for each day, we were invited to choose a topic from a PDC and then, share it in small groups in the evening sessions. The last session consisted of designing a PDC curriculum and schedule and, then, presents it to the rest of participants. Along these assignments, we also learned the role of timekeeper, debrief and appraisal. These roles are so important and need.

We also learned valuable behaviors of effective teachers, which are a key to become an example for others and facilitate the learning process. For example, an effective teacher does not talk about the participants unless it is relevant; minimize verbal contributions to discussions when they are going well; hand over the pen or chalk; keep their attention on their students’ needs and; accept feedback and make adjustments.

Some teaching tools are: 1), audio-visual, slides, power-point and videos; 2), printed materials, books and diagrams; 3), lectures, debates and presentations; 4), groups, role-plays, international café; 5), demonstrations and practical work, and; 6), excursions and field trip. During this course, teachers have been using most methods or encouraged us to use as many of them as possible to become familiar with them. Since there are many teaching methods, it is recommend it to select one or more that matches the content, giving clear instructions and keeping the energy up.

We also got to practice the most important teaching method: questioning. Questioning reduces the amount of time that teacher speaks (max. 30% per session, 15 minutes without pause), keeps learners thinking and helps to develop confidence. There are two classes of questions: closed questions (with a right question, based on facts) and open questions (which call for experience and thinking). To be honest, this method was my favorite and I used along the course with different teaching tools as, for example, excursions, presentations or slides.

The last day, we presented our PDC schedule and curriculum to the rest of the group. It was really exciting as well as a challenge. After that, we also evaluated the course and think about next steps.

So for your next workshop, don´t forget to: prepare and present your ethics, learning outcomes, class code, and culture, choose appropriate learning tools and diverse methodology for different learning styles and remember to enjoy through the process.

Permaculture Teaching Matters

Text and photos: Krista Klijzing

Hej, my name is Krista Klijzing and I would like to share a bit about my experience at the recently held “Permaculture Teaching Matters” course, 18-26 August 2018, Sösdala Sweden.

The venue, Ankholt, Sösdala Sweden

This PTM course serves as a training course designed to assist PDC holders to become effective and inspiring teachers, and as such, to have a multiplier effect in spreading and sharing permaculture. It is designed by a woman named Rosemary Morrow. Now, I had never heard of this woman, so I did a bit of googling and you tubing, only to find a truly inspiring, compassionate, pragmatic and down-to-earth woman with an IN-credible amount of experience. Suffice to say she’s been around and walks the talk. She currently dedicates her time to travelling alone around the world, mostly to war-torn nations, and offers to learn people -who have otherwise no opportunity to do so- about sustainability and food growing. How is that NOT amazing? What also stood out about her was the fact that in many pictures, she was sitting on the floor with such ease and grace. And this is a woman who is well into her middle age. The reason why that kind of thing strikes me is because I teach whole-body, multi-planar movement (and lots of it, yes, on the floor) on a daily basis, as a way for us people to age dynamically and gracefully.

Back to the course. In total, 12 participants from different parts of the world, came together at the venue: Ankholt, a cooperative farm located in Sösdala, south Sweden. There we were met by the teaching tandem; Alfred Decker & Candela Vargas. I can warmly recommend these people if you ever have the chance to follow a course with them: they are experienced and gifted facilitators, with a huge toolbox to draw from. And not to forget funny! I laughed my hat off J. Anyway, they are also humble people and very well equipped for the task, which was to teach us about facilitation (aka the art of communication). How to make your teaching effective (as in: resulting in appropriate learning outcomes) and lasting (as in: beyond the moment)??

When it came to the content of the course, they really made us think about how to create a learning community, in which trust, confidence and exchange can emerge, whilst respecting each other’s abilities. So basically, how to integrate people care in your teachings? And that both the learning environment (physical setting) and drawing out a course culture/or class code amongst learners (how do we like to treat each other??) are really important to this end. These topics were eye-openers for me.

    

Our learning environment

Furthermore, we looked at the learner, the teacher, and how does a teacher inhibit and stimulate the learning in others? Next, we discussed the kind of teaching methods one can use (f.e. chalk & talk, Q & A, group work). And how we have a variety of teaching tools to our disposition, ranging from; field trips to objects, to games, to your own body. Only your imagination sets the limit as to how you, as a teacher, can appeal to a broad array of learners. And the take-home message is; how to choose and use your teaching methods and tools appropriately in order to facilitate the learning in others whilst making the teaching as effective as possible?

THEN we got to put all this to practice J. What would a Teacher Training course be, without trying to teach?? On 5 occasions we had to present a micro-teaching; 3 times on your own, 1 co-teaching, and 1 group teaching, presenting permaculture related subjects. So, real hands-on experience; trying out different teaching methods and tools, whilst modelling pleasant behavior, thinking about your body-language and using non- violent communication. Each micro-teaching session would end with a round of feedback, so we also got to train our debriefing & appraisal skills

Now, I would lie if I would say this week was easy-breezy. The days were JAM packed; with learning sessions, AND working on your own micro-teaching, AND finding time to also work on the group assignment AND participating in chores such as washing up and keeping the place tidy.

Washing up and filing buckets was part of our daily activities

But you know, it was perfect. We came there to learn, and to be inspired. And we had fun. And there was an atmosphere of solidarity, we were amongst peers and could find mutual support in one another. New friends and networks were created. It made me think about all the teachers I have had in my life, both in the formal and informal education system, and drawing out which were the ones I enjoyed most and why. And I am definitely also reviewing my own ways of teaching and how to put into practice the things I’ve learnt at the course. No doubt about it, it was a worthwhile & lasting experience!

The Erasmus+ mobility project supported the participation in this course.

Sprouting Permaculture Network on Lolland-Falster

The discussions were lively at the Permaculture network meeting in Ursulas garden in Vesterborg, Lolland, on Sunday 2nd September.

We were given a guided tour of the garden. A garden in the process of change, where some of the principles of permaculture are already being demonstrated, whereas other projects are still on the drawing board.

While we drank coffee, tea and homemade Kombucha, and ate lovely apple cake with Fejø- apples and raw-food cake- we talked about many different subjects. We were shown Ursulas homemade cosmetics from natural ingredients, which got us talking about everything from chemical and plastic-free cosmetics, to raw food, veganism, animals in our systems, health, fermentation, and of course, how nice it was to meet like-minded people with the same interests.

We agreed that we will continue to try to hold these events at least a few times a year- at our places, or other places! We will also try to focus on different topics for each visit

These events are open to everyone with an interest in Permaculture

Next meeting for permaculture- interested on Lolland-Falster will be the 30th September 14.15-17.30 in Flintinge
Find the event here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/537917283332336/

EVS opportunity in Arterra, a spanish ecovillage

Do you feel like experimenting the life in Arterra for 3 months? We have a place for you through our EVS program!

You will be working on the community farm from the 1st of September – 30 November which is the time of harvesting all the bounty from the garden!

Read more below:

What is EVS?
EVS is the European Voluntary Service, is a program allowing young people to go abroad, learn and contribute to a better world with support from Erasmus+ funding. It provides an opportunity to join meaningful work and experiential learning while your food, accommodation, traveling, pocket money, insurance and mentorship are fully covered. A person can only do one long-term EVS.

When?
The EVS project will take place from 1 of September 2018 to 30 November 2018.

Where?
Arterra Bizimodu: www.arterrabizimodu.org
The living conditions will be simple with the focus on low ecological footprint. You may expect shared rooms and common facilities, natural rural environment and diverse social activities together with the group.

Who?
Young peoples the age 17-30, who have not participated in an EVS project before, from the corresponding partner countries: Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom. If you are not from any of these countries, you can apply if you find a sending organization from your country.

We are looking for motivated candidates with a pro-active, creative and problem- solving attitude, with a wish to learn about farming and other ecovillage activities.

What?
The main activities of the EVSers will be working in the garden cultivating vegetables and taking care of the community animals, composting, and normal community chores such as cooking and cleaning. The volunteers are expected to produce a creative presentation in form of video/audio, poster or photo collage about their learnings and discoveries from agricultural techniques they experienced during their EVS period.

How?
If you are interested in this EVS project, please send your CV and motivational letter to Ruben from Permakultur Danmark (rubenbiolec@gmail.com):

Welcome to the Permaculture Association of Denmark!