• Helms Middle School Vision 2021-22


    Our Helms community cultivates learners and educators who are caring and collaborative, and who learn together. Our vision is for our staff to practice culturally responsive teaching and to learn together using the Helms IPG Cycle to enhance our students’ learning of rigorous curricula. We believe this will accelerate the growth and achievement of our students in middle school so that they can move towards becoming independent learners and be successful in high school and beyond.  

    *Our Helms working definition of culturally responsive teaching (CRT) is the process of using familiar cultural information and processes to scaffold learning. CRT emphasizes collectivist culture. It is focused on relationships, cognitive scaffolding, and critical social awareness. 

    *The Helms IPG Cycle is: Baseline Visits, Peer Visits, Lesson Study, Teacher Portfolios with curriculum internalization and student work analysis intertwined within and between steps, as needed in department teams.

    To achieve this, we strive to build our collective efficacy towards fostering:

    • achieving students, 
    • professional learning, and 
    • a caring culture.
  •  Helms Middle School Priorities for 2021-22

    Achieving Students


    Impact on Student Learning

    Our classrooms provide students with:

    Lift Student Thinking: (departments) Students are authors of their own ideas and drive the class toward learning outcomes. Students shift from dependent to independent learners. 

    Students process new content within the context of their funds of knowledge. Consistent feedback on their thinking shifts their academic mindset and increases their intellective capacity.  

    • Students collaboratively explain and revise their thinking 
    • Mastery-based grading
    • High quality, rigorous curricula in ELA, Math, and Science

    Cultivate a Strong Sense of Belonging: (house/ faculty) Students feel like integral members of the Helms community, and bring their whole selves to their learning experience.

    Students build deep relationships with a community of their peers and teacher, which reduces students’ socio-emotional stress and primes the brain for learning.

    Students can identify an adult who will never give up on them and will insist they be the best they can be.

    • Advisors hold weekly circles in homeroom (p. 146)
    • Advisors serve as a “home base” and communicate weekly with families. 
    • All staff members practice validation - inequity is real and students’ speech and way of being are legitimate (p. 92).


    Professional Learning (held by departments)


    Impact on Student Learning 

    Classroom / Collaboration Actions

    Commit to shared learning goals: Advisors and content-alike teachers align on learning goals and pacing for their students so that they can meaningfully collaborate on their teaching practice based on student work and experience. Teachers prioritize acceleration over remediation. “Remediation” is targeted, explicit, and research-based (e.g. REWARDS for reading, Number Talks for math). All staff members are reflective practitioners of CRT.

    Student learning is at the same level of rigor in all classes; this gives students access to the same standard of curriculum.

    Students hear aligned messaging. 

    • We believe in one learning model for all; school members participate in parallel learning and reflection processes from the administration team to adult collaboration spaces to the classroom
    • Teacher teams work together to have common teaching and learning expectations.
    • All staff meetings provide educators the opportunity to learn and reflect about issues of Race and Equity and Culturally Responsive Teaching, and to examine this in their daily practice. 

    Participate in the IPG Cycle: Teachers ground their vision of excellent instruction in the IPG and Ready for Rigor Framework. These resources serve as a focal point of adult collaboration.

    All students (including black, English learners, and students with special needs) engage with high-quality and culturally responsive curriculum and instruction. Students move towards becoming independent learners.  

    • participate in one to three IPG cycles throughout the course of the year,
    • complete a self-assessment using the IPG, including an artifact, of your content area at the ends of both semesters (in other words, a teacher portfolio). 


    Caring Culture


    Impact on Student Learning

    Classroom / Student Actions

    Practice Joy / Restoration / PBIS: (houses) Students enjoy school and are eager to learn. Educators, and therefore students, lean into Critical Hope (both material hope and socratic hope) from the Hope Framework.

    Students develop an academic mindset. They believe their learning is relevant and meaningful (p. 109). 

    • Advisors hold weekly circles in homeroom (p. 146)
    • All staff members intentionally message “wrong” ideas and consistent feedback as opportunities for learning. Staff members are intentional about feedback to students (p. 101-105).
    • Staff focuses on reinforcing positive academic and socioemotional behaviors (and reteaching expected behaviors), rather than negative behaviors.

    Offer Opportunities Beyond Academics: (ASP) high-quality programs build on a wide range of skills and interests

    Students feel connected to the school, their peers, and the staff. Students build community in the groups they join.

    • student interests are identified in survey/s
    • ASP draws on survey results
    • ASP adults participate in core instructional classes and collaborate with teachers

    Engage Family & Community: Advisors, content teachers, and ASP, with the support of other staff members, communicate frequently and meaningfully with families about students’ content mastery and socioemotional progress to forge a learning partnership.

    Students’ self-perception shifts towards “smart” as adults in their lives become aware of the smart academic behaviors they exhibit in the classroom.

    Students’ believe that learning 

    • mastery-based grades on a 4 point scale are updated weekly in Powerschool,
    • real-time feedback to families and community on academic and socioemotional behavior (via Class Dojo, Kickboard, or Remind),