Middle School Academics
In the Headwaters Middle School, we intend that all students develop in the “5 Attributes of Success.” These 5 attributes are Headwaters School’s mission “on the ground.” They were distinguished by envisioning the holistic capacities of students equipped to succeed in rapidly changing future. Our curriculum, hiring policies, teacher training, parent education, student services, and programming are based on the development of these 5 attributes in our students: Well-Being; Environmental/Cultural Awareness; Self-Generating Learner; Self Expression; Leadership.
Click here for more information on the 5 Attributes.
Foundational to our academic structure is our advisory curriculum. Much more than a home room, a Headwaters advisory creates a small scale support structure for academic and personal success. The advisor serves as a first point of communication between a child’s teachers and their parents. Advisors deliver a school-designed character development curriculum that has our students write mission statements, set goals, and conduct holistic self-evaluations. Each semester, the student’s advisor oversees planning and implementation of a weeklong independent project. Through advisory all school members are joined by community dialogs and shared activities. Furthermore, through advisory and its community service project called the “One-for-One Program” students take part in community service that connects them to the world at large.
For detailed course descriptions, please view the 2015-16 Middle and High School Course Catalog.
What does a class look like?
Between classes there is the normal hustle and bustle of adolescent life, students laughing, gathering their materials and talking to their friends as they head to class. Then there is a silence that passes over the school. Each class at Headwaters starts exactly on time, doors close and students and teachers take a few minutes to do a simple centering practice. For a moment, we are still and take stock of our day, our mind and our body. Class begins with intention. Across the school some students will be taking pop quizzes, some will be engaged in silent reading, some will be setting up labs, or typing up papers. Many will be in discussions, some listening to lectures, or doing group projects while others are rehearsing, creating art, or doing self-directed studies. There is no formula for lesson delivery and each teacher has the autonomy to respond to his or her class as necessary. At the end of class, however, every class resumes to a united structure. We debrief every class, taking an opportunity to observe and communicate what worked, or what could be improved in our own process, the classroom environment or in the lesson itself. Class dismissed.
Assessment at Headwaters happens in many ways. Most teachers in the Middle School value a students’ participation, their homework, projects and tests as part of their class grade. Assignments are recorded by the teacher and available to parents and student via Powerschool. Students write a weekly update to their advisor, and cc their parents, to summarize their academic progress, grades and plans. This ongoing dialogue gives the student consistent opportunities for advisor feedback, as well as self-evaluation. Teachers provide formal comments at mid-semester and report cards are sent out at the end of each semester. To give a holistic perspective on a student’s academic and character progress, the advisor submits a comprehensive narrative evaluation as well.
If a student needs or desires additional help from a teacher, they can seek the teacher after school for office hours. In some cases, teachers will require students to come to office hours in order to get such support in they have concerns for their long term success. While we don’t offer special services for students with learning disabilities, we find that our office hours structure usually provides the help that a motivated student needs to overcome many lingering skill gaps.