Learning Through Interests
Learning Through Interests
At MCS, we do school differently. To empower our students to follow their passions and lead purposeful lives, we provide students opportunities to engage in real-world learning experiences. We work with community members to support students in becoming contributing members of society.
Through our Learning Through Interest (LTI) program, students will have the opportunity to gain real-world experiences through a series of career exploration activities. To help our students create personal and academic goals aimed at developing a more detailed future orientation for themselves, this program will connect students with professional experts and community mentors from different career fields a variety of ways. This includes informational interviews, job shadows, mentorships, and personalized learning projects that connect student interests with the classroom curriculum. While participating in these structured activities, our students will begin to develop a deeper understanding of how their interests and goals impact those around them in the real world.
Pursuing Interests, Not Just College and Career
The road to these learning outcomes begin at Marin’s Community School. While enrolled at MCS, our students begin to develop meaningful relationships in their community that empower them to pursue their interests and discover new possibilities. Through these connections and experiences, students cultivate a sense of purpose that ignites their curiosity and motivates them to learn.
While working towards developing their identity, students engage in activities designed to uncover their motivations. For example, we use the Japanese concept of “Ikigai” to help students connect their skills and interests with real-world opportunities. We use the diagram below to help students discover their own “why”; a purpose and an interest that may lead them towards a possible career. Questions like “What Does the World Need?”, “What Can You Be Paid For?”, and “What Are You Good At?” start to illuminate a path to explore what a student’s passion is. From there, we start to align potential career and academic pathways to explore that are conducive to those passions.
Levels of Participation
Students will have the opportunity to interact with working professionals and community mentors in many different ways while participating in our LTI program. While students begin deep dives to examine and develop their motivations and aspirations, they will also be given the opportunity to connect and interact with mentors in the community. We use an online platform called ImBlaze to support the logistics of connecting students with opportunities in the community.
In order to scaffold the process of connecting students with appropriate mentors who can help students meet their goals, we use a variety of activities such as:
- Informational Interviews - While exploring possible interests that may lead to a career path, students can select a mentor that they would like to interview. This includes meeting with an individual to have a conversation about their profession, including questions like what their job entails, what academic path they had to take to get to where they are now, and why they chose this career field.
- Job Shadows - Once a student has met with a community mentor and their interest has been sufficiently peaked, they can elect to spend a portion of the day working with this selected mentor. Through a job shadow, a student has the opportunity to work alongside a working professional for one or several hours to help them get a better understanding of that particular career.
- Mentorship - If a student has met with a community mentor one or more times, and has had the chance to explore what a particular career might look like for them, they will have the opportunity to participate in a mentorship. Once a mentor and a student agree to work together for either a short term (at least four weeks) or long term (up to a semester), the student, mentor and advisor set a schedule and establish learning goals together.
We are partnering with Big Picture Learning to build our LTI program and help students develop their own pathways for learning. In January of 2020, we will launch the Imblaze digital platform to facilitate the logistics of off-campus learning. The platform allows students to access and review a database of mentors from local businesses and organizations. Students explore future possibilities that might many might not have considered before. Furthermore, this program gives students the chance to create a network of professionals, working community members that may be able to help support them as they move through high school and beyond. The main purpose of the ImBlaze program is simple and direct… to empower students to take ownership of their future and to help them choose a path that can connect their classroom education with practical working experience.