Minerva Baccalaureate: A Teacher’s Perspective

 

Sarah Clancy on how teaching Minerva Baccalaureate classes engages her students through an interdisciplinary curriculum

Sarah Clancy is a Minerva Baccalaureate instructor, teaching Cognition, Learning, and Social Development since September 2020.

How are the Minerva Baccalaureate classes you teach different from standard high school classes?

Through pre-class work and specific study guide questions, students are poised from the moment they come to class that being an engaged participant is simply expected. They know they might be called on to answer, respond, or debate the content at any moment and this means they seek opportunities to not only be prepared but involved in learning engagements. The learning experience is active.

 

What kind of preparation is needed to be able to facilitate Minerva Baccalaureate classes?

Though I brought to the program a background in active learning and discussion-based classes from my previous teaching experience, navigating Forum and learning how best to use the technology for active learning purposes was my greatest area of growth. Minerva faculty trained us in the Forum platform before classes started in September.

 

What kinds of activities do you find work well or that students thrive on in an active learning environment?

Most classes include breakouts of 2-4 students which allows them time to think through concepts and work towards a shared goal together for the class' learning outcome. They like anything that masks learning as fun such as taking on perspectives of various stakeholders to debate an issue, practice collaboration in the form of an escape room, or skits to make a point about punitive vs. restorative responses to discipline in schools.

 

What is a moment in your Minerva Baccalaureate course that stands out as being active, interdisciplinary, and called students to high-level thinking?

As we're finishing up the semester of Cognition, Learning, and Social Development, students are making all kinds of connections to their learning in other parts of their lives: building more #constructiverelationships, using their newly discovered #selfmanagement skills in their other classes, and thinking through interdisciplinary connections when it comes to #responsibledecisionmaking in literature, biology, or world cultures. I love that students are seeing the ways social and emotional competencies serve them in a variety of ways.

 

What is your favorite thing about teaching Minerva Baccalaureate classes?

It's a small cohort so I love seeing the joy that comes with making new friends, learning together, and “aha” moments. The way these students will travel through their high school years together gives me a sense of excitement when I consider how they might impact the world during that time and beyond. I feel like we are building something joyful and educationally innovative which gives me a source of pride in the Laurel Springs School team and our young pioneers.

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Building upon the best in contemporary high school curricula, the Minerva Baccalaureate is a transformative four-year program that teaches essential skills across disciplines. The program blends self-paced coursework with engaging peer-based class time, offering the advantages of both individualized and fully active learning techniques. Students learn in a fast-paced format that interweaves core subjects to accelerate understanding, capability, and growth.

 

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