Valuable Lessons from Preston Smith, the President of Rocketship Education

Educators often learn things about pedagogical theory and application by getting their feet wet in schools, rather than finding them out in training or throughout the time spent earning degrees. This holds true with Preston Smith, the President and co-founder of Rocketship Education, a group of public charter schools in America.

Earlier this year, just two months ago, Mr. Smith released a list of the ten most important aspects of teaching he’s picked up on in his ten years with Rocketship Education. Rather than holding them internally for his own utilization, he kindly allowed the rest of educational America pick up on the hard-fought lessons he’d became privy to.

Children with disabilities are subject to Rocketship’s meaningful inclusion model, in which they spend around four-fifths of each day at school with non-disabled students in general classrooms. Traditionally, these students have been placed in special education classrooms that are small and focused on meeting their needs more than accomplishing any other tasks. While it does seem beneficial for students with special needs to be exposed to these classes, not allocating a large majority of their days spent at school is unfair to them, other students, and teachers.

Parents remit surveys regarding their kids’ experiences at class on at least a monthly basis. Teachers are expected to change their behaviors based on what surveys read. As such, it’s important for teachers to be flexible as their primary positive characteristic, rather than having decades of experience or college degrees from nation-leading postsecondary institutions.

All persons involved with schooling, no matter how large schools are, involved parents are, or young kids are, should bring together opinions from outside sources. This holds especially true for those employed by schools, the ones whose performance in educating students matters more to their welfare than anyone else.

Teachers’ demographic makeups and cultural backgrounds should match that of their students. Some educational institutions strive to have their students’ characteristics match that of their aggregate bodies of teachers, although kids should never be chosen for admission based on their demographics – however, doing so is more than acceptable for employing teachers.

Success Academy Charter Schools Live Up to Name As Extraordinary Success Story

Since the launch of their first location in Harlem, New York City’s Success Academy has set itself apart from the public school system. Since it’s founding as a charter school it has functioned outside of that system, and the results from day one have been a dramatic success.

Growing from the first school in Harlem, founded by former city council member Eva Moskowitz in 2006, to include over 30 locations scattered throughout most of New York City’s boroughs, the academic achievements of Success Academy students have made it a school that parents want to send their kids to.

The beginning of 2017 finds Success Academy receiving more than 17,000 applications which is more than four times the number of available seats. This growth shows no signs of slowing down, and as a result Success Academy has needed to expand along with it. New locations continue to open as space becomes available.

 

Behind this incredible success and a waiting list of more than 10,000 applicants is a teaching approach that pushes beyond accepted standards of the public institutions. The students of Success Academy tend to test high above their public school counterparts in part due to courses being highly challenging. At Success Academy, the tough academic curriculum is helping to produce students who actually want to learn, and eventually leave the institution as educated members of society who are ready to contribute to society.

 

An in-depth discussion with Success Academy founder Eva Moskowitz, found at the school’s website: http://www.successacademies.org/news/interview-with-eva-moskowitz/ and originally published at: http://www.philanthropyroundtable.org/topic/k_12_education/interview_with_eva_moskowitz, reveals some of the classroom tools that Success Academy teachers and administrators are using in greater detail. While some of the curriculum and methods may seem unconventional in comparison to the accepted ways things have always been done they are producing extraordinary results that speak for themselves.