At Outward Bound, we understand the challenges educators are facing today — navigating curriculums, managing student engagement, and investing time to develop new facilitation skills for your classroom. Your time is valuable, and you care about your students social and academic growth. That’s why the team at the Outward Bound Professional Learning Lab designed The Thriving Classroom.

This professional development series is built specifically for educators and facilitated by Outward Bound instructors. Connect with your colleagues in a supportive learning environment and discover new skills for engaging your students in learning. Walk away with the ability to translate these skills into tangible plans that support your classrooms’ social and emotional needs.


  • Our current offerings include 10 sessions that can be delivered solo or in progressions of 6, 3, or 2 sessions (see options below). 
  • Available via Zoom, on-site at your school, or at Outward Bound's beautiful Baltimore campus.
  • Workshops engaging, hands-on, and discussion heavy.  
  • Sessions run 3 hours and are best fits for groups of Middle and High School Educators. 


  • INVITATION: Participants are invited into the topic through a discussion, activity, or multi-media
  • EXPLORATION: Participants explore previous knowledge and test their understating of the topic.
  • CONCEPT INVENTION: Participants are introduced to new ideas or perspectives via lecture, discussion, readings, and more.
  • APPLICATION: Participants apply session content to a situation they routinely encounter in the classroom.
  • REFLECTION: Participants look back on their learning journey and make a plan for moving ahead.

This session introduces participants to foundational content for their journey through several sessions. We recommend this session for groups that are booking 3 or more Thriving Classroom sessions.

This session explores what it means to belong and provides techniques and activities for creating safe space and facilitating connections within a group. Participants will experience the concepts firsthand as they participate in an intentional progression of Outward Bound activities that promote belonging.

This follow-up to Facilitating Belonging: Exploring the Power of Connection prompts participants to look more deeply at how they can help their students develop a sense of belonging.  Drawing from participant’s personal experiences, research, and Outward Bound methodology, this session prepares educators to take a comprehensive approach to belonging in their classrooms.

When Outward Bound takes students into a new environment, whether it’s a ropes course or a remote forest, we utilize structure to help students feel safe and open to learning. With brain science as a guide, participants will discover how Outward Bound’s approach to structure can help them create supportive learning environments in their classrooms. This sessions pairs with "Implementing Structure: Practices for success "

This session moves from theory to practice, giving participants the opportunity to examine their beliefs about structure and tangible practices to use in their classrooms.  Participants will leave with a plan for creating an optimal learning environment by using structure to help students feel safe and connected. This session pairs with "The Science of Structure: Designing a supportive environment".

This session prepares teachers to promote student engagement and teach social-emotional development skills using games and activities.  Expert Outward Bound facilitators will model activities participants can use in their educational environments and share tips and techniques for designing and facilitating effective learning experiences.  

At Outward Bound, social-emotional skills are taught explicitly, and they are also woven into the fabric of the program.  As students go about daily tasks, travel, play, and explore, our instructors implement practices that support their social and emotional growth.  This session defines eight key practices and gives educators a path to supporting social-emotional skill development in their own classroom. 

It’s been said that instructing is the art of asking questions. Questions are what make an experience, brief or long, into more than merely a happening. Not all questions are created equal. This session helps to identify reasons for inquiry, patterns in questioning, and methods for devising questions.  Participants will develop questions that engage, challenge and lead to deeper learning and awareness.  

Good learning is sticky! Sticky is not about answers, and it is neither fast nor efficient. It is about productive struggle and meaning making, most often connecting in conversation with other people. Promoting Discussion helps us to create a culture of back and forth dialogue. It provides methods for facilitation and practice to help with both planned and improvised discussion. Discussion promotes and can even become its own social-emotional skill.  

This session is a broad overview of resilience, trauma, and the behaviors that students exhibit when they become dysregulated. The session covers the learning environment, adult skills, and strategies that can promote self-regulation for students.

Note, this is a full day training.

In this final session, participants reflect on the variety of approaches to social-emotional development they have explored in The Thriving Classroom and make tangible plans for implementing practices to engage and support the learners in their classrooms and support students’ social and emotional needs in their classrooms.  

Many sessions complement each other and are designed to be delivered in a progressive series. We are happy to collaborate with your team to design a series that fits your needs! Check out some sample series options below

Building Belonging

Belonging is foundational to a safe and effective learning environment. This 2-part series explores the theory and practice of how educators can be intentional about incorporating strategies to build belonging into their classrooms all year.

  • Facilitating Belonging
  • Understanding Belonging

Boosting SEL in Your Classroom

This 3-part series guides participants through the foundations of social emotional learning. The series begins with why SEL is important and builds towards using in-class tools such as games to grow SEL skills and incorporating SEL-building practices into classroom routines.

  • Introducing the Thriving Classroom,
  • The Social-Emotional Toolkit
  • All Learning is Social and Emotional.

Questioning & Discussion

This 2-part series takes our most common classroom strategies--questioning and discussing--and propels them to the next level! Are conversations falling flat? Are you asking leading questions? This mini-series will freshen up your toolkit to increase learning and engagement for you and your students.

  • Questioning Strategies
  • Promoting Discussion

Creating the Supportive Environment

Research shows that students learn best when they feel safe and connected to others. The 6 sessions in this series prepare you to create these types of learning environments in your classrooms, whether they are virtual or at school. You will explore the science of belonging and structure, leaving with a deeper understanding of how to support your students socially and emotionally. Expect to walk away with new, tangible tools for apply your lessons into your own teaching practice.

  • Introducing the Thriving Classroom
  • Facilitating Belonging
  • Understanding Belonging
  • The Science of Structure
  • Implementing Structure
  • What's Next?

Engaging the Whole Learner

This  6-part series will prepare you to support the development of social and emotional skills in their classrooms. Get introduced to Outward Bound’s educational framework for social-emotional development, engage in activities that promote SEL skill building, and learn practices you can implement into your teaching.

  • Introducing the Thriving Classroom
  • The Social-Emotional Toolkit
  • All Learning is Social and Emotional
  • Questioning Strategies
  • Promoting Discussion
  • What's Next?


Outward Bound Professional Learning Lab (OBPLL)

The Outward Bound Professional Learning Lab (‘The Learning Lab’) is a collaborative effort of the Outward Bound USA system and is directed by Outward Bound USA. The purpose of The Learning Lab is to continuously improve the student experience by evaluating program delivery and student outcomes and enhancing professional learning opportunities for staff. For more information on 'The Lab' please visit