Master of Education for Experienced Teachers, M.Ed.

Overview: Experiential Education

Experiential education is a signature pedagogy within the Masters for Experienced Teachers (MEDX) program at UNC. Experiential education as practiced within the program provides opportunities in which:

Learners are engaged intellectually, emotionally, socially, politically, spiritually and physically in an uncertain environment where the learner may experience success, failure, adventure and risk taking. The learning...challenges the learner to explore issues of values, relationship, diversity, inclusion, and community…The results of the learning form the basis of future experience and learning (Itin, 1999, p.93).

Rather than stand on the fringe, experiential education is centered in MEDX students' initial summer coursework. Early in the program, students spend a residency week either in the mountains of Western North Carolina with North Carolina Outward Bound or in Durham County at the Durham Public Schools Hub Farm. These immersive experiences enable practicing teachers in the program to consider possibilities for teaching and learning that extend beyond the four walls of the classroom. UNC Faculty teaching the initial summer course live the experiential experiences with the teachers by engaging in the activities alongside the teachers. The unique opportunity provides a critical foundation for future learning as the teachers consider implications for their own teaching.

Experiential education as practiced in the MEDX program moves teachers out of the comfort of traditional learning contexts and brings them in contact with new contexts and experiences, be it rock climbing or fence building, and ways of being with others. The experiences enable the teachers to take scaffolded risks, build community with colleagues and engage in deep reflection on their lived experiences. Research has identified the many ways experiential education can positively impact Birth - 12th Grade student experience in schools. However, in order to understand the what and how of experiential education, we believe our teachers need to immerse themselves first in the process in deep and engaged ways. The experiences constructed within the MEDX program, detailed below, provide a critical touchstone for teachers to then move these reform-minded practices into their own classrooms and communities.

Experiential Learning Opportunities

Durham Public Schools Hub Farm

Educators newly enrolled in the Masters for Experienced Teachers program may choose a learning opportunity at the Durham Hub Farm as one of two experiential options. The Hub Farm is a farm and environmental education facility for the Durham Public Schools (DPS) and is a place where local teachers in all content areas and students of all ages engage in hands-on experiences and academic enrichment.

The week involves a range of activities that focus on environmental education, sustainability and school-based gardens. Those include cultivation of the garden space (planting, tending, harvesting produce, etc), development of curriculum materials for interdisciplinary lessons, creation of resource materials that educators may use at the site, design of instructional materials to take back to classrooms, etc. MEDX students who select this option meet at the Hub at 117 Milton Road every day from 8:00am - 3:00pm. There were no additional program classes for the core course in the afternoons during that week.

You can learn more about the DPS Hub Farm at:

https://www.facebook.com/DPSHubFarm

http://www.dpsnc.net/images/pdf/Oct%2020%20Farm%20Brochure.pdf.pdf

North Carolina Outward Bound Wilderness Experience

Through a unique partnership with the North Carolina Outward Bound School, MEDX students in the first year “Reinventing Teaching” course (EDMX 707/EDUC 601) participated in a 7-day Outward Bound course in the mountains of western North Carolina.¬† This extraordinary opportunity combines the transformational experience of an Outward Bound course with classroom instruction to increase teachers’ understanding and integration of experiential methodology in their own classrooms.

Thanks to a generous donation to the UNC-CH School of Education and the North Carolina Outward Bound School, this Outward Bound expedition (a $1500 value) is offered at no additional cost to as many as 24 MEDX students! General information about the North Carolina Outward Bound School can be found at www.ncobs.org.

You can learn more about Outward Bound perspectives on learning and the classroom at:

http://www.ncobs.org/lib/file/manager/OB_and_Classroom_Teaching_2011.pdf