How to Teach an Apprentice?

How an Apprenticeship Model Engaged Students and Turned a School Around

During a search for examples of deeper learning in American high schools, Jal Mehta, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and then-doctoral candidate Sarah Fine discovered that highly effective teachers frequently allow students to learn by working in real-world contexts, such as through apprenticeships. According to the authors of the 2019 book In Search of Deeper Learning: The Quest to Remake the American High School, this approach encourages students to think of themselves as experts capable of harnessing their own creativity and using their knowledge and skills to develop mastery through application of their knowledge and skills.

For young people, it is also a particularly compelling approach, as evidenced by the following: Professor and New York Times bestselling author Alison Gopnik told us in 2016 that “one of the things that people often observe is that kids are much more involved in sports and music than they are in, for example, math or science or writing.” The reason, I believe, is that sports and music are two of the few areas in which we actually teach older children using this apprenticeship model. ” It is the stage at which you actually learn how to do something actively while receiving feedback. That model has sparked a lot of interest among children. In my opinion, there is absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t teach writing in the same way that we teach science or any other of those types of activities.”

During the 2008 school year at Maplewood Richmond Heights High School in the St. Louis suburb, an emphasis on the apprenticeship model was implemented in response to years of underperformance that had brought the school to the brink of a government-mandated closure. Today, teachers look for ways to connect lessons to real-world people, places, and opportunities in every class they instruct. Students working in the print shop, for example, receive orders from teachers to design posters and brochures for classroom use, and they are also in charge of creating the school’s student ID cards. In a service learning course, students practise teaching the four cornerstones of the school to middle school students—leadership, stewardship, scholarship, and citizenship—in order to gain a better understanding of the teaching profession and to gain practical experience. Local architects, nurses, engineers, and graphic designers are invited into classrooms to talk with students about their professions, and students are connected to job-shadowing and internship opportunities in the community as a result of their participation.

Schools That Produce Results
Maplewood Richmond Heights High School is a public urban school with grades 9-12 in Maplewood, Missouri.
What distinguishes this as a SCHOOL THAT WORKS
Maplewood Richmond Heights High School is a comprehensive high school in the St. Louis suburb of Richmond Heights with a student body of 370 students. When MRH High School was identified as a potential target for state takeover in the 1990s, the school has worked tirelessly for the past two decades to transform itself into a high-quality institution that serves as an anchor for a revitalised neighbourhood and school district. Teachers now create their own curriculum using the Understanding by Design framework; there is a strong emphasis on building deep relationships with students and their families through home visits; and in all classes, teachers treat students as apprentices and look for ways to empower students and connect lessons to real-world people, places, and opportunities.

In 2018, the Missouri Department of Education’s Annual Performance Report, which measures college and career readiness, test scores, attendance rates, and graduation rates, the school received a score of 98.4 percent, the highest possible.
Received a National Excellence in Urban Education Award, making it the only school in the United States to receive a gold level award in 2015.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals recognised the school as a Breakthrough School in 2014 and 2017.
To continue to raise the bar on student work, the outstanding work of former students who have achieved mastery is regularly archived and then used to inspire current students in an effort to raise the overall standard of student work. As a result, educators from the high school—and the surrounding district—visit all incoming students at their homes in an effort to build trust and form deep, long-lasting relationships “in which [teachers, parents, and guardians] can take the time to share dreams, expectations, experiences, and tools regarding the student’s academ” in an effort to improve the local educational experience in 2014.


Beginning in 2008, home visits to all incoming students were implemented, and the district reported a 45 percent reduction in discipline referrals after one year. Summer training is provided to administrators, teachers, and counsellors in order to better prepare them for the school visits that they will be making. Home visits, according to research, help to build trust and understanding between students and their families, which in turn helps them achieve academic success. In the words of Kevin Grawer, principal at Maplewood Richmond Heights High School, “Until we started doing [home visits], all of the programmes and all of the talk didn’t matter.” “We needed to demonstrate to them that we were there for them. We were there to serve the community, not ourselves. That it is about improving the lives of our children and providing them with opportunities.”

The George Lucas Educational Foundation is a non-profit organisation founded by George Lucas.


Understanding by Design (UbD) is a framework that teachers at MRH High School use to plan lessons. With UbD curriculum planning, teachers design curriculum, plan lessons and assessments by first envisioning the end result in their minds and then working backwards from that point of view. “What do you want your students to take away from this experience?” teachers ask themselves. and “What are the major concepts that students should grasp during the course of the unit?”

The George Lucas Educational Foundation is a non-profit organisation founded by George Lucas.


Teachers at MRH High School use a practise known as Models of Excellence to demonstrate to students what is expected of them when working on a project or assignment as part of their apprenticeship philosophy. The exposure to high-quality work completed by other students in previous years helps students understand what good work looks like and that it is within their reach as they progress through the grades. Adults can improve their skills in the real world by observing the work of more experienced colleagues, which happens to be one of the ways in which they can do so.

The George Lucas Educational Foundation is a non-profit organisation founded by George Lucas.


Additionally, teachers at MRH High connect students with internships and other real-world work opportunities, and they plan their curriculum to be as authentic as possible and grounded in the real world as much as possible. Teachers must identify two to three goals for each lesson they create that connect the curriculum to real-world experiences or make the content applicable in the real world. As they develop lessons, teachers must keep these goals in mind. These objectives could include inviting a guest speaker, going on field trips, or inviting experts to evaluate student work, among other things.

The George Lucas Educational Foundation is a non-profit organisation founded by George Lucas.
In accordance with the guiding philosophy of “school as apprenticeship,” educators attempt to expose students to some semblance of what their working lives will be like once they graduate from high school in every class. “The goal is to [provide students with] a diverse breadth of experiences while also allowing them to begin to narrow in on what they really want to do,” says Grawer, the school’s principal. “I’ve had kids tell me, ‘I’m not sure what I want to do,’ and that’s okay. ‘It’s all right,’ I say. You’re seventeen years old. A lot of people are unsure of [what they want to do when they turn 17]. However, you’ve gotten a head start on the process and are further along than you would have been if you hadn’t been in this location. And that’s something to be valued.”