The collaborative structures in which students work and learn mirror those in which faculty work and learn, capitalizing on everyone’s diverse strengths and maximizing their ability to support one another.
Practices Associated with this Principle
- At all levels of the schools and network (students, faculty, principals, principal mentors, Internationals staff, school-wide committees, and network-wide committees), people work in collaborative groups that are project-oriented.
- Students/ teachers/ principals/ principal mentors share work for constructive peer feedback.
- Students/ teachers/ principals present portfolios of their work to their peers.
- Classes of 9th and 10th grade students are combined so that the older students can mentor and support the younger ones.
- As a new school adds a grade each year, teams of teachers are reorganized so that more experienced teachers can be on the same team with less experienced ones to mentor and support them.
- A new principal is placed with an experienced Internationals principal during his/her internship year.
The Philosophy Behind Core Principle and Practices
The Internationals Approach centers on the belief that all members of the Internationals community learn best by being engaged in authentic, rigorous, relevant, and collaborative projects that incorporate diverse perspectives. In order to maximize learning, all levels of an International High School are structured to support heterogeneous peer and collaborative groups. Research and experience have demonstrated that what happens at one level of the school will be reflected at all levels of the school. If faculty do not work collaboratively, it is difficult for them to model and develop joint learning for their students.
In schools and school systems, the model for adult learning inevitably parallels the model for student learning as faculty cannot model or effectively teach what they do not experience, practice and understand themselves. Knowing that this parallel exists, we actively ensure that the Network and schools develop collaborative and heterogeneous structures with collaborative projects as the main form of work for both the adults and the adolescents. We know that students learn more deeply from what is modeled than what they are told. By creating this kind of community in our schools, we provide strong models for students. Most importantly, these collaborative structures that require students to engage with, respect, and learn from those who differ prepare them for active and full participation in a democratic society.