Our teaching methods are research-validated
Mt. Helix Academy uses scientifically proven methods to achieve measurably superior academic performance and positive student behavior. Mt. Helix Academy is a Direct Instruction (DI) school. We implement the highly effective reading, writing, math, language, spelling, and various content area programs designed by Zig Engelmann and his associates at the University of Oregon. We are a “catch ‘em being good” school; we teach our students what to do in their classrooms and throughout the school and then we praise them for doing it.
Research-validated methods have a different look
The teaching at Mt. Helix Academy looks different from what you are likely to see in other schools. Teaching occurs in small groups comprised of students who have just about the same skill level for each specific subject. Our teachers actively teach their students and the students are actively engaged in their learning far more than is typical in a traditional classroom. Our teachers also praise their students for effort and achievement dramatically more often than is common. We explicitly teach our students how to move from class to class, how to organize themselves and their materials, and how to attend and participate. “Down time” is but a tiny fraction of the day.
Effective teachers guide their students
Mt. Helix Academy teachers make sure that their students have mastered every skill. They guide their students through each skill as much as needed, just as a good coach would do. Frequently, the whole group responds inunison, which permits all students to practice the skill being taught. Students give correct answers far more often than is typical and, when a student makes an error, the teacher will immediately correct it in a neutral manner and usually to the entire group. Students are never “put down” or embarrassed by their teachers. As a result, students grow to be eager participants in their new learning. They actually learn to love learning.
Homework is designed for practice and amplification
At Mt. Helix Academy, homework is given for practice or amplification of skills that the students have already been taught and tested for mastery in school, as well as for the purpose of establishing study skills that will be important for success in the future. Homework is not given so that parents must be “after hour” teachers; nor will they have to figure out what their child is being asked to do. Many parents report that their children love to do homework; it often competes with television and video games. Our former students have noticed that their high school classmates often put off homework until late at night, something that surprises them, because our graduates commonly tackle their homework first.
Professional development is an essential ingredient
Mt. Helix Academy also differs from more traditional schools with respect to its teachers and their training. In order to be continuously successful with all of their students, even the best teachers benefit from regular coaching from experts who frequently observe their teaching and provide helpful feedback. Ballplayers, musicians, actors, and even CEOs have coaches. At Mt. Helix Academy, teachers have coaches too.