Success Academies’ Teachers Don’t Plan Their Lessons

Posted: October 23rd, 2014 | Author: | | No Comments »

The highest-performing charter school network in New York City is Success Academies.

Here is a profile of its founder, Eva, in the New York Times Magazine.

At Bridge, we try to study some of SA’s approach to learning. One key component is massive, massive attention to simply getting kids to do the act of reading. In Africa, that presents a challenge, since the cost of books can be prohibitive to parents who earn < $2/day. But another component of Success Academies is their shared curriculum (also similar to Bridge). Recently, a teacher in a traditional NYC school wrote about it. I found her take interesting. She writes:

I have taught English at the same school in the city’s public school system for the last six years. I interviewed for a teaching position with Success Academy this summer. While I didn’t accept the offer, seeing the charter network’s approach to curriculum made me think about what it would look like if my school—and others—tried its approach.

At Success, teachers do not spend time crafting the plans and materials for every class—a core expectation of teachers at most schools. When this was first explained, I couldn’t help checking that I’d heard correctly: “So you’re saying teachers don’t lesson plan?”

My interviewer’s response was prompt and confident: “Lesson plan? Our teachers don’t have time for lesson planning.”

I was stunned, but I shouldn’t have been. They realized it worked better to dedicate a team of qualified people to developing lessons, who give the lessons to teachers with the expectation that they will be modified. (My interviewer even emphasized the poor results of teachers who simply delivered the lessons without taking ownership of them.)

In short, Success sees the foolishness of having teachers, on a daily basis, reinventing the wheel when there are people within the school who understand how things should work. It’s time traditional public schools admit the same.

Read the whole thing here.

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