Taking Off the Backpacks: The Transference of Outdoor Experiential Education to the Classroom
Keywords:experiential education, outdoor education, teacher education, professional development, community building, Outward Bound
Schools of education continue to struggle with how to best meet the needs of practicing teachers enrolled in graduate teacher education programs. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Education designed a graduate teacher education program with an embedded outdoor education residency component to disrupt practicing teachers’ concepts of teaching with the intent of impacting their professional practice. This qualitative study reports the results of a multi-year investigation into the transference of the learning that occurs in the outdoor experiential education residency into teachers’ classroom communities. The experiential opportunities were designed to embolden the teachers to rethink community and to reinvent their teaching practice. The findings inform our understanding of the transference of outdoor experiential education as teachers took off their backpacks and returned to the K-12 classroom. Particularly evident in the data were the ways teachers’ own engagement in authentic community as part of the residency model influenced their efforts to create the same opportunities for their K-12 students and for themselves in their school communities. Our findings reveal images of possibility while also noting obstacles to transference.
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