At the Met, every student has an individualized learning plan built around that child’s needs and interests, while incorporating our rigorous learning goals. Parents and mentors are active members of the student’s learning plan team, working with the advisor to develop the best curriculum for that child. Strong relationships with parents, family, the community, business, government, and other educational institutions are key factors that contribute to the success of Met students.
Learning in the Real World - One of the key elements of the education at a The Met is that students learn in the real world. The main component of every student’s education is the Learning Through Interests and Internships. In these experiences, a student works with a mentor, an expert in the field of the student’s interest, the students complete authentic projects that benefit the student and the mentor with deep investigations. These projects are one of the main roots to academic growth and investigation in the curriculum. These authentic projects are connected to the student’s interests and needs and are real, meeting the needs of the mentors. Through this work, students develop 21st century skills, build adult relationships, and begin establishing a professional network. Students can have multiple Real World Learning experiences over the course of years in their school.
Personalization - Learning at The Met is not constrained by the school day or the school year. Students are encouraged to pursue their interests and grow academically, and given credit for activities outside of the school day and the school year. One student at a time expands beyond “academic” work and involves looking at a student holistically. Every student’s work is documented on an individual Learning Plan created and updated each marking period with the learning team (the student, parent, advisor, and whenever possible, mentor) in a Learning Plan meeting. The entire learning experience of a student is based on a student’s individual interests, talents and needs. The learning experience includes curriculum, learning environment, use of time during the school day, choice of workshops or college class, focus and depth of investigation in the Big Picture Learning Goals. The process of personalization involves doing what’s best for kids: pushing and pulling at the right time, and not dictating or punishing, but problem solving and mediating. Overall, the advisor’s job is to know students well and provide the right measure of challenge and support for each student in each activity to promote growth. Students are responsible to follow their interests and passions in the real world and in their project work.
Authentic Assessment - Learning at The Met is a process that is substantiated with quality products. There are high expectations for each student at Big Picture Schools. The criteria of assessment are individualized to the student and the real world standards of a project (as gauged by the mentor). Students engaged in this process at The Met are not assessed by tests and are usually given narrative assessments along with, or in place of grades. The assessments at The Met include public exhibitions (one per marking period) that track growth, progress, and quality work in the Learning Plan and academic depth in the Learning Goals), weekly check-in meetings with advisors, weekly journals, yearly presentation portfolios, and transcripts (to translate the information in a way colleges can understand). Gateways for students’ progress are between 8th & 9th, and 10th and 11th grade and at graduation.
School Organization - The Met uses time, people, facilities/space, and other resources in unique ways. The organizing principle around The Met is to educate one student at a time. Students work in one-on-one and small group learning environments around their interests and needs both in and outside of school doing authentic work.
Advisory Structure - The advisory structure is the core organizational and relational structure of The Met. It is the heart and soul of the school and is often described as the “home” and “second family” by students. The Met has a small number of students (goal of 16) and most students stay with the same advisor for four years.
The advisor’s role is to manage the student’s LTIs and individual, personalized Learning Plans. To do this, the advisor must get to know each student and his or her family well (this includes home visits and one-on- one meetings with each student). Though certified in one area, the advisor does not “teach” his or her subject area; rather s/he draws upon many disciplines to meet the needs of each student, their projects, and the advisory activities. Ultimately, the success of the student is the responsibility of the advisor.
The advisor also organizes the “advisory time” (times during the day when the group meets) in the morning and the afternoon to meet the needs of the students. S/he facilitates the group activities that are designed to expose students to new ideas and concepts, provide academic learning opportunities, create a group identity and group process, and build a sense of belonging and trust in school and the educational process.
School Culture - School culture is not a means to an end, but an end in itself. One of the things that is striking about The Met is the ease with which students interact with adults. There is a culture of trust, respect and equality between students and adults, as well among themselves. Students are encouraged to take leadership roles in the school and student voice is valued in the decision making processes.
For the adults in The Met, teamwork is a defining aspect of the culture. Principals create regular opportunities for professional development and life-long learning. Staff members also reflect regularly and share ideas through a weekly publication called TGIF. Additionally, staff members meet regularly in a variety of configurations (whole staff, grade level, advisor buddies, etc.).
Parent/Family Engagement / Adult Support - The Met enrolls families. Parents and families are an essential element of The Met. They feel welcomed and valued at The Met.
Families are engaged around their children through initial home visits, and by participating in Learning Plan meetings and exhibitions. Families are resources for the school. They share knowledge about their children, support the school community by suggesting mentoring possibilities, and use their assets in ways that support the school. They play an active role in the school community that includes political issues, social gatherings, and supporting new parents and students. They play a proactive role in their children’s learning through high school and beyond.
Post-Secondary Planning - The Met shows deep faith in all students and work to make college an opportunity for all of their students, to provide options for them in life. Advisors, staff and school leaders plan backwards to maximize these opportunities: they develop challenging individual Learning Plans, take students on visits to colleges, educate families about the post-secondary planning process, and build relationships with local colleges.
All students must take college entrance exams and apply to college or post-secondary school programs. In addition, The Met continues to follow and support students even when they become alumni. No matter what their chosen course, The Met requires all students to develop post-high school plans that contribute to the future success of the student – be it through college, a professional internship, travel, trade school, the military, or the workforce.