Learn to build engagement and community remotely.
Fostering a sense of belonging is a critical part of the new virtual learning landscape. Without a strong community, students and staff are at risk of feeling overlooked and disengaged. NYC Outward Bound Schools has built a new suite of virtual community building programs for both students and staff to help ensure that schools can meet these challenges head on. Our virtual community building programs center on fostering specific social-emotional learning (SEL) competencies in response to our current reality.
These programs can supplement existing curriculum and advisory structures or help create new ones — at NYC Outward Bound Schools, Crew is our supercharged version of advisory. Our student programs are designed for middle and high school students. They can be used to help incoming 6th and 9th graders cultivate a sense of belonging in their new school, or help strengthen relationships among older students.
Programs for Staff
Virtual Crew Expedition
Building on its 30+ years of experience in adventure and team building, NYC Outward Bound Schools has reimagined its outdoor fieldwork course in the virtual space.
Virtual Crew Expedition is a 5-day series of synchronous virtual community building for students that prepares them to communicate and collaborate more effectively as a class, Crew, or advisory group. Students bond and build trusting relationships with their peers and advisor through 1½-hour sessions that foster belonging, team building and reflection.
The program is designed to support students in getting to know each other and build a lasting sense of community, trust and belonging by working collaboratively on a common set of challenges. In this supportive environment, NYC Outward Bound Schools’ instructors encourage students to work together, learn new skills, take risks, and reflect on their experience.
Duration of Partnership/Program: One 1-hour teacher/student prep session + four 1½ hour program sessions
Sample Program Flows & Goals (subject to change)
Teachers learn how to be effective co-facilitators for this program, and students identify their learning targets for the week.
Session 1: Getting to Know You
Students share about themselves and learn more about their Crewmates.
Session 2: Team Challenge
Students plan, communicate, and collaborate with each other to overcome challenges.
Session 3: Solo Exploration
Students explore the natural world virtually, sharing their findings with the Crew afterwards.
Session 4: Celebration
Students reflect on the week and celebrate what makes their Crew strong and unique.
Trying out new activities with the Crew seems to have reset our engagement, and I see this [corresponding] directly with our attendance this week.Anastasiou
Single-Session Community Building Programs
We offer 2-hour targeted community building sessions for staff and students. These programs each dig deeper into one of three topics — community building, collaboration or leadership.
During these one-off workshops, NYC Outward Bound Schools staff facilitate a series of synchronous virtual community building activities for students or staff. These sessions build upon one other and are applicable year-round, giving participants the chance to reconnect with one another and strengthen their communication and collaboration skills in the virtual space with SEL-oriented activities.
Duration of Partnership/Program: One 2-hour session (this program can also be conducted multiple times over the course of the year with different activities).
Professional Development for Teachers
This 1½-2-hour session teaches educators how to facilitate effective virtual community building activities at their own schools. Participants learn how to implement a sustainable, well-rounded and student-centered program with SEL outcomes.
Throughout this 90-minute (+30 minute optional tech support) session, educators learn how to facilitate a virtual community building program at their own school, and connect each activity — from opening energizers to team challenges — back to CASEL’s SEL competencies: relationship skills, social awareness, self-awareness, self-management and responsible decision-making.
Duration of Partnership/Program: One 1½-2-hour session
Virtual School Coaching
Improve a specific aspect of your teaching practice and/or school culture with one-on-one or small group coaching via Zoom or another video conferencing platform. We offer virtual coaching in three high-impact, scalable Select Strategies:
- Crew: Crew is an advisory structure that builds character and academic skills through a combination of team building, student-centered academic support, conflict resolution and adventure.
- Project-Based Learning (PBL): PBL is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by exploring authentic, engaging, and complex questions, problems or challenges.
- Student-Engaged Assessment: Student-engaged assessment is a strategy that helps students understand and take ownership of their own growth as learners, and may involve, for instance, student-led conferences in lieu of traditional parent-teacher conferences.
How it Works: A virtual strategic planning meeting is held to determine the goals and scope of the partnership work. Partners will then begin scheduling coaching hours, which can be full 7-hour days or strategically split up into smaller chunks. Coaching work might include observation and feedback cycles, curricular support, small group facilitation of professional learning, providing curated learning tools (best practices, protocols, rubrics, planning documents, etc.), and more.
Duration of Partnership/Program: Throughout the school year, ideally over the course of multiple years.