The Off-Site Field Experience puts learning to the test. A real test. Throughout the course of study, teachers have explored key principles of education that will up the bar on the quality of education their students deserve. Teachers have learned to become thoughtful, strategic, and collaborative. Engaging in classroom conversations by day and conducting research by night, teachers explored methodologies that promote authentic student learning and involvement. As a culminating event and celebration, teachers then venture out into the community for the Off-Site, with the expectation that they will apply the new skills and strategies that they have learned. Strategies include but are not limited to:
- the continuous improvement cycle to becoming a self-regulated learner (plan and set goals, apply strategies, evaluate outcomes)
- the 6Cs to restoring intrinsic motivation (choice, challenge, control, collaboration, consequence, constructed meaning)
- the essential elements of effective collaboration (positive interdependence, face-to-face interaction, individual accountability, social skills, team processing)
- culturally responsive methodologies designed to lower the affective filter and to create an inclusive community of learners
While the topical assignment of the Off-Site is quite simply to learn all they can about the community, it is the extent to which teachers are able to apply the above strategies that are truly tested. Have they planned their questions thoughtfully? What elements of the 6Cs are present in this assignment? Have they assigned team roles for greater accountability? Are they formulating culturally respectful questions to ask the locals in the community? What kinds of strategies are they using in order to make the input comprehensible?
By the end of the Off-Site, when teachers critically reflect on the entire process in which they were engaged, they emerge with a tremendous appreciation and understanding of what they have learned, and they are inspired to pass along this 'new and improved' educational perspective to their own school communities.