Mission Possible (DVD included), by Eva Moskowitz and Arin Lavinia ($27.95)
Why do you think this country treats teaching so differently than it does other professions?
Hmmm. That’s quite a thoughtful question. And, sadly, one we can’t seem to find the answer to, regardless of what programs or testing we put into place.
Because we tend to highlight the shortcomings of public schools, I think we tend to view the education system in this country through one lens — a cynical and derogatory lens. With that perspective, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to value that which is at its very core — the teaching profession. We’ve all probably heard the saying, “Those who can’t do, teach.” That’s a sad commentary on teachers, and education.
Teachers deal with overwhelming challenges as they strive to do what should be considered one of the most important jobs in this country — educating our children. They deal with budget cuts and a lack of supplies, books, computers, and even paper, not to mention a lack of support, respect, and confidence. We don’t give teachers (or students and their families) the tools they need to succeed…then they don’t succeed…then they’re blamed for the lack of success…and on the cycle goes.
Americans want results. Quantifiable, concrete, distinct results that scream success. Anything less is viewed as failure, plain and simple, and suffers a loss of respect and valuation — yet we don’t come up with workable steps for progress and success.
Is Mission Possible truly a possible mission?
Eva Moskowitz and Arin Lavinia, however, have come up with very workable steps for progress and success…and the proof is in the pudding. Moskowitz is the founder and CEO of the Success Academy Charter Schools, while Lavinia is a literacy specialist. The two have come together in Mission Possible: How the Secrets of the Success Academies Can Work In Any School. They discuss groundbreaking, classroom-tested methods for dramatic improvement in teaching and learning. Moskowitz and Lavinia demonstrate how one Harlem charter school, whose students are selected at random, became one of the top schools in New York City and the state within three years. Success Academy students — who are called scholars, which indeed they are — have met or exceeded the test results of public schools for gifted students as well as elite private schools.
So, how did they do it? What’s the formula? And why can’t it be replicated?
I have some good news…it can be replicated. But it will take open minds, significant changes to traditional teaching methods (which aren’t producing the results we want), and hard work. It’s not easy. But it’s do-able.
Success Academies focus on rigor and preparation. For everyone involved. The curriculum has high standards and they teach at a quick pace. Principals and teachers receive a tremendous amount of training and development so that they constantly improve their skills and methods. In one Success Academy, a kindergarten teacher teaches her students — 5-year-olds — like they’re adults. She “aims high and talks to kids like they’re smart.” Guess how that works? The children rise to the challenge and succeed. Consistently.
In Mission Possible, Moskowitz and Lavinia assert that school should be a “magical place” where a top-notch education is the priority. Everyone has to contribute to make that priority a reality, though, which means principals and teachers have to raise the bar, parents have to support not just their children but the teachers and the school, and school reformers have to stop pigeon-holing the “problem” of education as being just about class size or poverty — and focus on solving the problem, not identifying its cause(s).
I highly recommend Mission Possible…to teachers, administrators, parents, and anyone who cares about the state of education in this country. It will make you think and, hopefully, will make a difference. You can get a copy of Mission Possible at Amazon.
I was compensated for this post. I received a copy of Mission Possible to facilitate my review. This post contains an affiliate link. However, my opinions are 100% honest and 100% mine.