Learning Model & Graduate Dispositions

Our Learning Model

Citizens of the World Charter Schools provide a socioeconomically, culturally and racially diverse community of students with an exceptional public education. We foster creativity and academic excellence, and our students learn with and from each other in a hands-on, project-based learning environment. With participation from our entire community, we strive to instill in each student a dedication to improving the world we inhabit.

We  believe that students need to do more than just read and write. They also need to be empathetic, courageous, culturally competent, adaptable and more. CWC LA’s model specifically teaches students all of these additional skills to allow students to thrive in our diverse society and be leaders in their communities.

Our learning model has three foundational pillars that guide how we learn and grow as citizens of the world.
Equity cuts across all of our pillars. 
We connect these strands of our model together in the classroom to enable us to teach students our Graduate Dispositions, which you can learn more about below.  

Strong academics form the basis of CWC LA’s model. Our teachers are trained and able to implement differentiated instruction, meeting the needs of every student in their classroom, aligned to Common Core standards. We measure the success of core academics through existing, industry-standard assessments (e.g. Smarter Balanced Assessments).

Social Emotional Development (SED)

SED supports the growth and development of the whole child, helping children develop the ability to understand their feelings and those of others and how to channel their feelings and behaviors to support themselves and others. Since day one, CWC LA’s school model has embedded SED in every aspect of what our children experience during the day, including mindfulness and meditation practices that helps develop awareness and connectedness.

While CWC LA relies on a number of core SED curriculum to make this learning come to life, some curricular examples include: UCLA’s Cool Tools program, MindUp, Second Step, Connected & Respected and Responsive Classroom.

Difference & Inclusion

CWC LA creates a space to celebrate diversity of all types and has developed a model where everyone (students, parents, staff) can develop a positive identity to support their learning and development. Social research such as stereotype threat (as described in Whistling Vivaldi by Claude Steele) highlights the importance of schools helping all students feel like they belong and develop their own positive self-identity.

Graduate Dispositions

In addition to a rigorous core academic curriculum, we also want to make sure that we are preparing our students to emerge as a new generation of leaders – ready to work across lines of difference, solve complex problems, and contribute to their communities in a meaningful way. We have defined a set of habits and characteristics that we aim for all of our graduates to possess upon leaving Citizens of the World Charter Schools. You can think of Graduate Dispositions as our “ultimate student outcomes.” We focus our curriculum and lesson planning in a way that maximizes the development of these skills, customized to each student’s grade and specific needs.


See below for more in-depth definitions of our Graduate Dispositions framework.


These dispositions reflect the qualities our graduates will possess internally. 


These dispositions reflect the qualities our graduates will demonstrate in relationship with others, both one-on-one and within communities.


These dispositions reflect the qualities our graduates demonstrate as they engage in the world at large. 


Self-Understanding: Identifies and understands one’s own emotions, thoughts and behaviors. Understands one’s passions, strengths and limitations. Recognizes the impact of context and others’ perceptions, and uses self-awareness to respond thoughtfully. Engages in continuous self-reflection.
Self-Efficacy: Independent, disciplined and self-motivated. Consistently sets and achieves goals.
Critical Thinking: Analyzes, evaluates and applies information to ask questions, develop ideas, construct arguments and solve problems. Considers multiple perspectives, both from the past and present, when analyzing situations.
Adaptability: At ease with ambiguity and the unknown, knowing that it is an important step to finding clarity. Open-minded and able to manage rapid growth, change and disruption.


Connection: Expresses ideas and thoughts through verbal, nonverbal and written communication. Adjusts communication based on the purpose of the message, context and audience. Builds understanding by listening, asking questions, testing assumptions, and applying examples. Internalizes multiple viewpoints to inform communications.
Collaboration: Learns cooperatively with others to achieve a common or complementary goal. Encourages the contributions of others, through active listening, providing feedback and drawing on individual strengths. Responds to group dynamics, including issues of power and control.
Cultural Competency: Understands one’s own identity and story. Can initiate and build constructive relationships with others, across lines of difference. Understands issues of privilege and power, as well as one’s cultural norms and biases. Leads across diverse groups in different contexts, using an asset-based lens.
Empathy: Acts with kindness and compassion towards living and nonliving aspects of one’s environment. Senses how another person feels, and can take another’s perspective.


Systems Thinking: Sees the connections and relationships between things (people, places and ideas) over time. Identifies and predicts complex patterns of behavior. Connects seemingly unrelated ideas to solve problems, innovate, and imagine new ways.
Global Advocacy: Evaluates issues from multiple perspectives and identifies the role one can play to promote change locally and in the world. Acts courageously, making sacrifices for the greater good. Works alongside others as global citizens to pursue justice with shared respect for human dignity.
Lifelong Learning: Demonstrates curiosity and the desire to discover new things. Asks complex questions to develop understanding. Has deep and broad content knowledge.

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