What happens in a school

Where intellectual bravery and social courage reap their own rewards?

And where imagination illuminates every classroom?

Our students dream big and accomplish feats beyond their years. They work together toward goals none of them could accomplish alone, learning the value of teamwork, understanding when – and when not – to take the lead.

Surrounded by their cognitive peers and equally curious teachers, the MIS student realizes that learning isn’t confined to a school, but comprises a lifelong quest to make meaning, develop relationships, solve problems and effect change. We firmly believe that intelligence is simply potential that can be cultivated, developed, and honed. MIS teachers are experts at redirecting students using a growth mindset approach, which rewards not only grit, but the art and science of learning itself.

Your child might write a proposal to the head of school advocating for green initiatives, trace the impact of journalism on World War II, tackle quantum physics as a middle schooler, and even start to dream in a second language.

MIS students are our future inventors and entrepreneurs, scientists, artists, researchers, leaders, and change agents. At MIS, they forge the worldview and the skills that they’ll rely upon for thought-provoking questions, unexpected insights, and a lifetime of fulfilling work.

What happens in a school

where scholarship knows no bounds?

Students debate censorship while investigating why certain books get banned, invent their own country complete with a constitution, a culture, and religious traditions, and partner with Trees Atlanta to address erosion problems on campus property.

All of these examples—and countless others—arise from our teachers’ use of problem-based learning. Through problem-based learning, students employ research, inquiry, and collaboration to formulate solutions to global problems. Here’s how.

No matter if the subject is math, science, language arts, or history, our teachers prompt students with an open-ended problem, to which there is no easy or “right” answer. Students then work together to generate questions they need to answer in order to solve the problem. Next, students prioritize and craft these questions into a research plan, then work through their plans both independently and collaboratively in order to design and evaluate possible solutions. While this last step may manifest as a final project or a demonstration of their learning, MIS teachers continually assess the problem-solving process from the first step through the very last.

In short, problem-based learning at MIS:

  • begins with the assumption that learning is an active, integrative, and constructive project
  • maintains a student-centered approach, where teachers act as facilitators rather than disseminators
  • employs open-ended problems that serve as the initial stimulus and framework for learning
  • sparks students’ intrinsic interest in the subject matter
  • emphasizes authentic learning as opposed to recall, promotes teamwork, and helps students become self-directed learners
Two young students sitting at desks with their hands raised to answer a question

What happens in a school

Where yearly travel opportunities expand worldviews and catalyze new thinking?

And where world languages prove essential rather than supplemental?

No one waits to learn.

And your child’s perspective widens as he traverses the globe, one year trekking through the Andes and alighting upon the majesty of Macchu Picchu, conversing with a guide in Spanish along the way. The next year he’s studying paintings of Gauguin at the Louvre, and then imitating his brushstrokes back in our art studio.

At MIS, global citizenship emerges even before our students begin to travel. As early as third grade, they conduct online research on where to stay, grappling with schedules and expenses along the way. And because all of our travel is course-embedded (rather than a “spring break” type of trip), students immerse themselves in the culture of their destination long before they leave.

Our travel—deliberate, purposeful, and embedded into our Social and Cultural Studies Curriculum—strengthens community stewardship, cultural understanding, empathy, and independence.

Simultaneous study of global languages — Spanish, French, and Mandarin — begins in kindergarten. Our students’ brains pick them up remarkably quickly. By middle school, some of our students are not just speaking in another language, but thinking in it as naturally as they do English.

What happens in a school

That recognizes your child’s intelligence as organic and fluid instead of fixed and static?

He realizes that effort can yield untold rewards, and that his mind can always continue developing.

MIS students use research, inquiry, and collaboration to design and evaluate solutions to open-ended global problems with no easy answers. Students tackle the world’s challenges: debating censorship, drafting constitutions for imaginary countries, addressing erosion issues on campus with Trees Atlanta, and much more.

A student sitting in a hallway leaning against the wall, listing to music as he does homework on a tablet

Whereas an instructor who adheres to a fixed mindset might say to a student struggling with dividing fractions, calculating the area of a parallelogram, or solving a multi-variable equation: That’s okay, maybe math isn’t one of your strengths. You tried your best, a growth mindset practitioner would say instead, That feeling of math being hard is your brain growing. The point isn’t to get it right away. The point is to grow your understanding step-by-step. What approach can you try next?

At MIS, growth mindset ties into our practice of metacognition, or asking our students to think about their thinking. Beyond putting forth concerted effort, our students constantly try new strategies, test new processes, and take different approaches to the same problem. They are not simply completing an assignment—they are training their brains for even more ingenious problem solving the next time around.

​And MIS teachers are experts at redirecting students through a growth mindset approach, which rewards not only perseverance, but the art and science of learning itself.

For further reading, you might begin with Carol Dweck’s seminal work, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.