Visitacion Valley Middle School will use an Innovation Award in 2016-17 to design learning spaces that facilitate culturally responsive teaching for their most vulnerable students that will prepare them for the future.
VVMS is a school predominately comprised of students of color, students living in poverty, and students exposed to continuous trauma. Currently, the school faces the challenge of their students’ lack of proficiency in Math and English Language Arts as demonstrated on SBAC and the Scholastic Reading Inventory. With many students behind grade level, they are not on track to succeed in High School and are at increased risk of not graduating from High School. The team at Visitacion Valley believe in breaking these patterns of systemic oppression, however in order to do so, deeper learning must occur. When spending time in classrooms, they observed far too many students sitting for long periods of time and doing individual work. We also see students penalized for moving around the classroom, and unhappy that their classes are not engaging enough. In speaking to students, they heard students say, “I am bored,” “this is not interesting,” or “all we do is sit down and be quiet.” This antiquated pedagogy has been updated to fit with the needs of the students, As a result, VVMS would like to move toward a more robust, interactive, and collaborative classroom environment to encourage engagement and high achievement.