I got into this book right away as it talk about the Success Academy charter school system. Charter schools are a big issue here in Chicago, and I was a charter school teacher for 4 years. This book takes you on a tour of the Success Academies and shows you THINK literacy in action. Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of the Success Academy Charter Schools, and Ana Lavinia, designer and developer of THINK literacy, understand the challenges teachers and principals face. Using the strategies outlined in the book the first Success Academy Charter School quickly emerged as one of the top performing schools in New York State.
But what stood out to me as the biggest difference between traditional public schools and the Success Academies is the extensive time, energy, and funds that go into educating the adults in the building. They believe that success starts with the adults and there are high expectations placed on teachers. There is also constant support, training, and feedback. Their professional development system includes things like the Cycle of Teacher Improvement and T School, a four week teacher training program. These things, I believe, really help with teacher morale and making teachers feel like they can be successful and that they matter.
This last point struck me because as a teacher, it can be hard to admit that you can't help every student simply because you don't know how. I was asked to respond to the prompt, Stagnation, being unable to accomplish one's job at a high level, is one of the greatest sources of low teacher morale. Why does this country treat teaching so differently than it does other professions? I think it's because good teachers make their jobs look easy. As a student, it's impossible to understand what goes into every lesson a teacher prepares, even the ones that don't go well. The authors of the book have pointed out that teaching is a skill and art that needs to be continually developed. The results from the Success Academies certainly suggest that the authors know what they're talking about. I know that I am constantly reflecting as an educator to see how I can make every single student successful; no matter what their ability level is.
This book is a valuable resource for teachers, principals, parents, education reformers, or anyone who cares about America's schools and students.
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