Teacher tips 8

All ready for planting day - are you prepared?

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Planning for your planting day.

One of the most enjoyable features of the Trees for Survival year is the school planting day. You can’t arrange the weather but a well-organised day will make sure that you make the most of the children’s big day out.

For those teachers who have already done their 2014 plantings, these TIPS will be too late, but you can bookmark the guide for next year. Hopefully, teachers yet to arrange their planting day will find the following guide helpful. It is addressed to the teacher responsible for the day and not necessarily the teacher designated to look after TfS at your school. There is plenty to do so it is good to start early.

You can download various checklists from the links included on this page.

Setting the date:
Identify a number of full day options in the second or third term with your Principal early in the school year and liaise with your TfS Field Officer, sponsors, landowner and/or other community support groups; then set the date. You will also need a reserve date just in case the weather gods don’t cooperate on your first choice.

Be aware that the better part of a day out of the classroom should be timetabled for a planting day. This gives the students an opportunity to do a good job planting the trees without the pressure of returning to school before completing the task.

Also talk with your Principal about teacher relief or if some other arrangement needs to be made to ensure any pupils back at school are properly supervised while you are away.

Landowner liaison:
It is best but not essential that you plant at the same site each year because this enables you to record how plants planted previously have fared,

A well set up planting site

and also you can use earlier plantings to demonstrate the environmental benefits. As you may be planting on public or private land the landowner is the person responsible for the planting site.

It is most important that the teacher arranging the day keeps in touch with the landowner. Early contact with the landowner will help to establish what needs to be achieved in advance.  The use of a Landowner Checklist will give the landowner guidance and also initiate communication so you can discuss any special requirements you or the students may have and make sure school policies are applied.

A visit to the planting site 2-3 weeks before planting day is essential. This will give the opportunity to check the landowner preparations (see Landowner Checklist) are on schedule,

Landowner lunch - a fine reward!

identify any hazards which need to be resolved as well as checking the survival rates of any previous plantings.

Finally discuss with your landowner the lunch catering arrangements for the students and their helpers. The landowner, by providing a BBQ, home-baking and refreshing drinks, can acknowledge the students’ work and a hearty lunch is always appreciated. However, do make sure that the landowner is aware of any specific dietary requirements your students may have.

Planning ahead:
There are certain obligations related to your planting day which you need to consider:

  • All checked in - nothing left behind!

    Health and Safety – you will need to prepare a Health and Safety Plan and have it signed off by your Principal. You may wish to encourage your Principal to accompany you when visiting the site 2-3 weeks before planting day.

  • Transport plan – it is likely that the planting site is some distance from your school and you may need to approach your school sponsor (the supporting organisation which funds the TfS programme at your school) or parent group for assistance funding a bus or providing cars. You will also need a map, to give supporters coming for the day, details of how to get to the planting site. The landowner may also be able to help by erecting signs showing the way to the property.
  • Adult supervision – your school policy will determine the adult:student ratio, so your school sponsor and parents need to be approached to confirm the number of adults available. It is always a good idea to plan for more adults than you need. A Planting Day Supporter Checklist can be sent to your school sponsor or community support group.
  • Local Council assistance – your local Council is likely to be involved assisting the school’s TfS programme and most Councils will be able to supply expertise and resources for planting day. Council officers may provide an introductory talk to the students and Councils may be able to supply spades.
  • Photographic record – arrange for a photographic record showing student involvement, as well as proving a record of the planting. The landowner may do the photography but it is important that your school has a record.
  • Plants ready for planting – your February plant count will give an indication of how many plants will be ready for planting. The minimum height requirement varies within the regions from 30-50cm. Let the landowner know how many plants you have (the aim is to have at least 800 from a 6m growing unit). The number of plants that are ready will give you an idea of how many planters needed to complete the task.
  • Your responsibility – while you may arrange for a Council Officer to supervise the planting process, the care of the children will be your responsibility at all times. You will need to supervise discipline and make sure that students are suitably attired with a raincoat, warm jacket, hat and closed shoes (gumboots) for tree planting. Plastic bags for dirty gumboots will make sure transporting vehicles are kept as clean as possible.  They may also need to bring a lunch, a drink and a spade, if not supplied. While it is your decision who attends the planting day, students who have been involved with the growing of the plants should be encouraged to attend.
  • Liaison – it is important to maintain regular communication with your school community and school sponsors as planting day provides a great opportunity for them to be directly involved in your TfS programme. As a result supporters can experience first hand what a great job you are doing.

You can download a Teacher Planting Day Checklist here.

All worn out at the end of a great day!

On Planting Day:
After any issues related to the weather have been dealt with, your planning will pay off and your day should be spent making sure that the helpers keep the students on task, allowing you to focus on the Health and Safety of the students.

Follow-up:

As soon as possible after planting day is completed, and you have reviewed the day with your students, it is a good idea to invite your landowner and school sponsor representatives to the school. This will be an opportunity for:

  • Set up and ready for our visitors

    The students to thank their sponsors, parent and community supporters and for them to see some student TfS activity.

  • The landowner to thank the students, report on how the plants are growing and the difference their planting is making to the environment. The landowner can also use this chance for returning any equipment left behind on the day.
  • You to mount a display recording planting day events.

It is a good idea to keep in touch with your landowner who can provide photographs and on-going reports on how the plants are doing. This information can be passed on to students and the school community to maintain interest and build support for your TfS programme.

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