Marin’s Community School (MCS) is reimagining alternative schooling to close opportunity gaps and better prepare students for a future that we can only begin to imagine. Our world is filled with opportunities and problems for our students to solve, and we believe our students are capable of working towards solutions today. At MCS, we begin our planning process by listening to our students and community members to create learning experiences where students make meaningful impacts on their communities. Through the process, they build relationships, learn essential skills and knowledge, and most importantly, develop a belief that they can make the world a better place. Our instructional model integrates the following design elements:
At MCS, students develop strong partnerships with adults who believe in their capacity to achieve and who listen to their individual needs and interests. Through these learning partnerships, learning experiences are tailored to each student to ensure their success. Personalized learning at MCS means:
- We take an asset-based approach to teaching and learning, helping students identify their strengths and celebrating their growth.
- We help students discover their passions through exposure to a wide variety of people and opportunities and meaningful projects.
- We build on student’s interests through job shadows and mentorships.
- We differentiate learning with the support of 1:1 technology and competency-based learning to support students at different stages of the learning process.
Interdisciplinary and Multi-Age Project-Based Learning
Teachers from different disciplines regularly teach together to support students as they solve real-world problems. By integrating courses, students and teachers have increased flexibility to differentiate learning for students. Instead of working alone, our teachers work as a team to support each other and students across all subject areas.
Social and Emotional Learning
As students solve complex, global problems, they will develop cross-cultural understanding, empathy and the ability to learn and work with others from diverse backgrounds. Social and Emotional learning is embedded with academics throughout our school. Students set academic and personal goals while they develop skills such as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, self-efficacy and responsible decision making.
We understand that traumatic experiences from the past and present impact students’ ability to learn. We use relational and restorative practices to create a safe environment, connect students with counseling services and build relationships to support students’ social and emotional development. As educators, we also pay attention to our own well-being, as our students depend on us for support each day.
We regularly seek feedback and collect data to inform our next steps as an organization. We learn from both our successes and our mistakes. We work as a team to solve problems and use systems for reflection to constantly improve student outcomes.