Small Learning Communities
The goal of Montclair High School’s Design for the 21st Century is to create a rigorous learning environment in which all students learn, to which all students feel connected and in which all students are invested. As a part of this effort, several courses have been developed into small learning communities (SLCs). Some of the elements usually found in these SLCs are that they are interdisciplinary, block scheduled, multi-year, and team-taught. Because of the greater amount of time spent in them, SLCs provide students the opportunity to develop a closer relationship with their teachers and fellow students in the community. This is a listing of the SLCs that are currently available at Montclair High School.
All SLCs share several characteristics:
- Interdisciplinary blocks of courses;
- collaboration and collegial relationships among faculty, including common planning time;
- enhanced professional development;
- shared students;
- shared expectations;
- more personalized learning environments for the students;
- extensive involvement of community, parents and other stakeholders; and
- extension activities.
This approach makes it possible for student work to be more actively and closely monitored, and more academically focused, than in a traditional, comprehensive high school.
In addition, SLCs present increased opportunities for student leadership and ownership of the learning process. For instance, students are assessed based upon portfolios of work that are prepared over time with extensive feedback from peers and teachers. Other leadership opportunities include Days of Dialogue and peer leadership and mediation programs.
Each SLC develops its own evaluation plan, and collects and interprets data resulting from action research projects. Supervisors evaluate the projects to ensure they are consistent with the curriculum standards.