Instructional Focus

INSTRUCTIONAL FOCUS

Teaching for Understanding.  Students engage in rigorous learning with the goal of deep understanding -- transfer of knowledge to novel settings.  New Heights uses a framework to organize curriculum, instruction, and assessment around powerful ideas and essential skills. The state standards for each core subject area are grouped together to provide a framework for instruction at New Heights. Students engage in skill-building, in-depth investigation, analytical and systems thinking, and meaningful demonstrations of mastery.

Personalization. Teaching and learning are personalized to support students’ academic and social development. To provide a personalized learning environment and continuous relationships among students and faculty, teachers come to know each student individually and work to address his or her academic and social needs.  These deep relationships support the use of differentiated instruction in the classroom.

Active Inquiry and In-depth Learning. Students are actively engaged in the learning process, rather than passive recipients of teachers’ knowledge. Students engage in units of study that build knowledge and skills. The units integrate multiple content and performance standards, while building on students’ prior knowledge, allowing time for reflection and self-assessment, and relating learning to the world that surrounds them. Students apply classroom learning to tangible problem solving in a way that brings learning alive and grants it real-life relevance. New Heights has established community connections to expose students to the adult world of scholarship and work. Teachers provide students with ample opportunity to reflect upon their learning throughout the process.

Performance Assessment.  Multiple forms of assessments are used on an ongoing basis to better understand the learner's progress and needs, and to plan for further assistance. Students have opportunities to showcase their learning in public through oral presentations, publications, and family events. These exhibitions of mastery actively demonstrate students’ competence to their teachers, peers, parents, and community as well as build ownership for students.

A School Climate of Decency and Trust. The school is a place that is comfortable and inviting to all. The school cultivates a feeling of respect, trust, and partnership between students, parents, and teachers. Students have opportunities to reflect on their behavior towards others and contribute suggestions for how to improve the climate of the school to support learning.

Democracy and Equity. The school demonstrates non-discriminatory and inclusive policies, practices, and pedagogies. It models democratic practices that involve all who are directly affected by the school. Students come to see themselves as vital contributors to the democratic culture of their school community.