“Learning Outcomes are the starting point, the process, and the finish line” : A conversation with Minerva Baccalaureate instructor Patricia Mejia

 

Patricia Mejia is a Minerva Baccalaureate instructor teaching World Cultures and World History at the American School of Santo Domingo.

How has teaching your subject areas, world cultures and world history, changed now that you are teaching in the MBacc program? 

I can say that since teaching the MBacc program, I have been able to truly focus on skills instead of just information. My students and I are now engaging with information in a different way. First, the information is a more varied representation of the world. Second, the information/ content is there as a catapult to develop our own critical, analytical, and problem-solving skills. Third, these skills are applicable to any, and every information the students are exposed to. This level of variety, development of skills, and transferability, have completely changed the way I teach. 

Is there something you can teach on the MBacc learning platform, ForumTM, that you cannot teach the same way in person?

Ohhh this is a tough question. I have been able to teach my students that learning happens through community, and that we are part of a global/ communal learning that makes our experiences much richer. I guess these are things that I was not aware of before teaching on Forum. Forum has enhanced the idea that every participation matters, that my students are heard, that their voices are as much part of the learning as the teacher's participation, and that they have support and guidance all the time. 

How do you incorporate learning outcomes into your lesson plans? How do you give feedback to students? 

The concept of learning outcomes (LOs) is not new to education. However,  LOs that are transferable/ transversal, applicable, focused yet generic, is an educational feat! Learning Outcomes are the starting point, the process, and the finish line. They are what drives each session, and what we want to achieve by the end of the year. Each session, students receive a comment for their application of the LOs during the session. These comments are focused on encouraging/ guiding students to achieve their best in the application of the LOs. 

How have you seen student engagement change in MBacc classes? What tools have you used that engage students the most? Can you give an example?

Forum is an excellent tool that allows the teacher to see which students are talking above or below average. This way we can consciously engage the quieter students. Students are able to comment, react, participate, provide written answers, etc. And teachers are able to pair up their verbal instruction with visual/ written instructions, as well as provide immediate feedback whether it is oral, or through emojis. Another aspect of Forum that has changed the way I teach is the stage. The stage allows me to spotlight students, encouraging them to speak, catching their attention, warming them up to share, pushing them to participate a bit more, giving them a visual cue of the opportunity they have to be heard. 

How has MBacc influenced your relationships with your students and your ability to help them succeed?

MBacc has given me and my students one common vocabulary. I am now able to speak the same language with them when it comes to feedback, growth, and development. The LOs that they are being assessed on are relevant beyond the classroom, so we find ourselves referring to the LOs in our personal conversations about their life, and their academic development. My students and I are definitely more aware of our own growth because we now have the words to express exactly what we are working on. For example, the other day I was talking with one of my students who is from another country, Haiti. And she was explaining how she wishes to start a Haitian Club in school, because she wants everyone to experience her home country through her sharing of the culture (gastronomy, language, clothing, etc). And she immediately looked at me and told me: "I want them to apply #globalperspectives, and add Haiti to the shoes that they have walked in." And in this moment, I knew exactly what she was talking about; and she knew exactly what she wanted, and what she had to do to achieve what she wanted.

 

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