Schools in the MTC membership are reimagining what school can be and are on their own unique journeys to mastery learning--which together we believe is the future of education. The power of MTC is in this member network: our organization learns from our members, our members learn from one another, and our cause is stronger because of this networked approach. Especially during this time of uncertainty, it has been uplifting to share in our member schools’ diverse experiences, from across all types of schools: public, private, large, small, start-up, and traditional schools. Prioritizing well-being and equity for all students, teachers, and families is paramount. If your family is planning learning for the days ahead...or simply needs a few fresh strategies for the final stretch of the 2019-2020 school year....read on.
Following are "The MTC 10," including insights that draw upon lessons from our member schools and best practices from the field of mastery learning, to help parents see learning and their learners in the best light. Parents of older children might see these as a framework of support, while parents of younger children might deploy these as they're able.
Encourage your learners to design their own learning experiences. Many of our schools tell us they are seeing the most engagement and the greatest joy in learning experiences that students are designing themselves. Whether it’s a coordinated effort to support local health care workers (a freshman boy named Theo at a member school did this with his family), a creative writing idea about a funny moment or a complex topic, or an exploration into the chemistry of cooking, encourage your children to connect with their teachers on creative project ideas that deepen and demonstrate their learning.
Every student is unique. Every student has their own challenges and their own strengths. Open up opportunities for children to approach remote school in the way that is best for them and your family and that they can reasonably take on given the constraints they are facing. One day may be more productive, while the next may be perfect for reading a good book.
3. Less is more:
Encourage your learners to focus on fewer content topics from among math, literature, science, etc. The mind is actually not great at multitasking, and, in fact, too much at once can cause efficiency and performance to drop. Your learners might connect with their teachers about which content they really need to master by the end of the year--and then plot out a work plan and opportunities to go deeper in certain areas as they can.
4. Learning happens everywhere:
Important learning experiences can happen outside the four walls of a classroom and away from the computer. MTC advocates that students learn in class and beyond, including in real-world experiences such as observing community issues and designing an app to solve one, cultivating and sharing a garden, holding a part-time job or internship, or taking on more responsibility at home. The world is fascinating and ready for exploration--and research shows that, as students connect their studies in class to a range of outside experiences, they are able to transfer their knowledge in powerful ways, cultivate durable learning, and develop essential skills and dispositions for a complex future.
5. Release your child from time:
Breathe deeply. Mastery learning--deeper learning--is unbound from the parameters and pressures of time. Mastery learning supports students in learning at their own pace and advancing as they master knowledge, content, and skills, rather than simply moving forward based upon established time requirements in courses and grades. “I can’t do that yet” is a guiding principle.
The value of the student/teacher relationship is timeless. Give your learners feedback as you can and encourage them to sustain a connection with their teachers, friends, and peers. Brainstorming, collaborating, and collecting input are vital to learning and well-being, especially as we exist in remote spaces.
7. Put yourself into the role of coach:
Coaches coach with a game in mind, with the skills and transfer performances they want to see. You can similarly encourage your child to work with you and their teacher to create realistic learning goals to finish out the year--and then plot out how to get there through regular practice. Emphasize the importance of formative assessments to demonstrate learning, including simply having them teach the concept to you.
8. Share the story:
Encourage your child to tell their story from this time in a unique way, and keep a journal (in any format....written, video, or sound recording) of important moments. They might reflect upon how they feel, what they are grappling with, and how they are adapting and embracing new opportunities. For older students, we know college is a worry right now. What we are hearing from college admissions offices is that they want to understand your child’s context. Even if your child is not applying to college in the near-term or is considering a career after high school, encourage them to reflect upon what is happening.
9. We’re all in this together:
There are likely some technical difficulties and hiccups for all students. Schools and teachers appreciate feedback from students and their families. But remember that teachers are stretching, learning, and facing challenges too. One lesson we can teach kids from this time and that they might even reflect upon in a college application essay: Look out for and take care of others. We are stronger together.
10. Related Resources: We’re all lifelong learners
Most importantly….cultivate in your child a love of learning and a sense of wonder. Here are some resources that can help during the remote school day and perhaps as you explore a mastery-based approach more deeply:MTC Theory of Action more resources on learning...
The Mastery Transcript Consortium® (MTC) is a growing network of public and private schools who are introducing the Mastery Transcript, a digital high school transcript that opens up opportunity for each and every student—from all backgrounds, locations, and types of schools—to have their unique strengths, abilities, interests, and histories fostered, understood, and celebrated.Are you interested in a demo of the Mastery Transcript or learning more about our organization? Get in touch today.