Community-Based Learning: Connecting Students With Their World

Community-Based Learning: Connecting Students With Their World


>>Matt: Seventy-five percent of last year’s graduating
class participated in community-based learning. It’s not required, it’s not
anything that they have to do for graduation, but I think the
numbers speak for themselves, an important quality of
living is to be curious. Students have an opportunity to take the community-based
learning program, and that encompasses a number of
elements, including internships. They enter into a discussion
with myself or my two colleagues about some of their interests, which they may have already
developed and they’re walking through the door with like,
hey I’m really interested in, international affairs, how can
I access that sort of curiosity in the small town of Montpelier? And so we just begin a dialogue
about what that would look like, why they’re interested in that. And I think that that
discussion, on the front end, helps craft the right
experience, with the right mentor
and the right pieces of any sort of internship.>>Adam: We’re trying
to break down this idea that learning is contained in
a classroom for some reason.>>Rachel: So I went to Matt
McLane around Thanksgiving and I was like Matt, I want to
do something fraud prevention and he goes, you what? And we found DFR, the Department
of Financial Regulation.>>Sarah: We were
thrilled to get her, not only is she just
a real go-getter but she gives us a really
valuable perspective from young people, which
we are missing around here.>>Rachel: I really
like having the chance to actually learn
things hands-on and not just be in a classroom. In the first few weeks I
just got a kind of taste of what everyone does,
I shadowed a bunch of different people, and then I
settled in on my project that I’m working on now.>>Understanding credit cards
and loans, identify theft and then sort of a pretext.>>I am creating an app that
is going to teach the basics of financial literacy.>>Sarah: Yeah, maybe it would
be cool to have some interaction in there so you don’t see it all
at once and you actually have–>>Right.>>To like dig deeper.>>Matt: On the front end there’s
a number of different pieces that the students
are expected to do. A letter of interest, cover letter certainly is an
expectation, it’s just a way to say I’m interested
in your work. And then there’s kind of
interpersonal oral communication in the site interview. They’re meeting with
the community partner, not only to learn about what
the site possibilities are, but to figure out
is it the right fit.>>Garrett: I’m not quite
sure yet of what I want to do after high school, but
I have been looking into the whole forestry
business. I do my internship twice a week.>>Marc: We try to have him
do a little bit of hands-on on all the different
aspects that we do here, from the very beginning, to the
correspondence with the client, to the end with the kiln.>>Garrett: He’s taught me
all about the different ways to calculate and
measure the pricing and the different species.>>Marc: When you have to stop
and you explain to somebody versus doing it repetitively,
you get a whole different feel of what actually you are doing. So it’s been a good
experience for me.>>Sarah: The main thing
that we wanted to make sure that we helped accommodate
was the learning goals, so it was a mutually
beneficial arrangement.>>Adam: We have seven learning
expectations in this school. We focus on reading, writing,
communication, problem solving, habits of learning,
creativity, and citizenship.>>Rachel: We have to pick
one or two and be like, this is how I’m going
to fulfill this, and then prove that at the end.>>Adam: So it’s not
just a cool experience, there’s that really
kind of clear connection between what they’re
doing and the values that the school community has. And many of the projects
that they do are developed in conjunction with
their community partner. And we want to honor all those
possibilities for students in terms of what the product is. The end product, from
the school’s end, could be a reflective paper that
incorporates a lot of the pieces that they observed
or took part in, so awareness certainly
could be an end product.>>Matt: What I’m not willing
to do is to allow students to not think about
their experience. And so we’re realizing,
with 60 to 70 students who are independently
working out in the community, that it’s important
to bring them together so that they have some sort
of reflective cohesion. The seminars are small groups
that come together once a month to connect up with each
other and to kind of talk about their experiences. It’s also a really
practical time for them to develop their resume,
write a thank you letter. We have an evaluation that we
share with community partners and it identifies
areas that a lot of employment evaluations
would involve, persistence, responsibility, attention
to detail. It’s a way for us to align
our learning expectations with real life employer
expectations. Throughout the experience my
role is to really help students to say why did you
approach it that way? What is it that motivated
you to either go after it or to really retract from
your enthusiasm for it?>>Rachel: I want to help
people and I feel like working with financial regulation and fraud prevention can help
the whole of the country.>>Garrett: Doing this
internship is a commitment and I’m devoted to doing that. I’ve actually been
looking at colleges in the forestry program.

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