In many of our coffee hours, parent orientation sessions, and newsletter articles, we at D-Prep have shared how we plan learning experiences to facilitate growth in all “three dimensions of student achievement”: Mastery of skills and content, character, and high-quality student work.
Recently D-Prep was able to clearly demonstrate how our students also grow in these areas of achievement outside of the
classroom with our 5th and 6th grade “outbound trip.” These carefully planned trips are built around intentionally designed experiences that bring growth in all three of these dimensions.
Students conducted interviews with a local village and a business leader to explore the concepts of leadership from their Unit of Inquiry.
Students were exposed to the importance of producing high-quality work, as they set up their own tents and were aware
that their comfort was directly connected to the quality of their efforts.
However, perhaps one of the most powerful dimensions of student achievement addressed in this experience is that of character.
Kurt Hahn, whose life’s work and thinking led to both the founding of the IB International Baccalaureate program and EL Education’s “expeditionary learning,” has a famous quote: “There is more in us than we know. If we could be made to see it; perhaps for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less.”
This quote perfectly captures our approach to these outbound trips. The title of this article “I am braver than I think I am” is a quote from one of the student reflections from the trip.
We could have told the student that she is braver than she thinks, and she may or may not believe us, but the effect would have been limited or less.
However, on this trip, when she was challenged to step out of her comfort zone, face her fears and self-doubts and with coaching on how to use her understanding of neuroscience and mindfulness to be aware and control her emotions and actions.
She discovered under her own direct experience that she is in fact braver than she thought she was.
This is true experiential learning. This is true transformative character education.
The trip was very successful. Both Mr. Javier and Ms. Julia participated in the trip along with myself and visit for Ms. Amy and Mr. Tor and Ms. Lady. This is an important part of our model for outbounds.
We as teachers and mentors are right there with the students sleeping on the ground alongside them and supporting them every step of the way.
Ms. Julia did a fantastic job deepening the learning back at school by having students write reflections
on their experience and growth. The student reflections are more powerful than anything I could write or describe.
So I will stop my article here and ask the reader to please take some time to read how the students grew when they stepped out of their comfort zone and applied the life skills that D-Prep has been teaching them.