Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Work Hard. Be Nice.

Yesterday I started discussing a book I just finished: Work Hard. Be Nice. Below are a few more interesting points I got from the book and I just wanted to share:

4. Fun & Learning.

"If you focus on finding the balance between having fun and keeping the focus on learning, that should take you very far." - Mike Feinberg

Mike and Dave wanted their school to be fun, but only because learning was fun. They soon realized there was a fine line between entertainment and engagement, but stayed true to their belief that: "It's going to be fun if we work hard for you, and you work hard for us."

Additionally, they felt that each lesson should be a conversation. Teachers dominating the lesson was bad. Students should be responding regularly to the teacher and the teacher to them. They felt it was crucial to keep talking and moving and doing things as a group.

5. Giving students a choice (sort of). Mike and Dave (the founders of KIPP) soon realized one strategy that seemed to work for most of their students was if they presented themselves as very strict teachers who enforced the idea that the kids had a choice:

they could learn because they liked it, or they could learn even though they didn't like it.

Again, Harriet Ball's advice and belief that "all children WILL learn."

Each child had to find a way to stay focused on learning, obey the rules, and develop the spirit of consideration for other students that the KIPP teachers felt would benefit them for the rest of their lives.

There was no denying that KIPP teachers had high expectations for their students, but perhaps it was these high expectations that should students they had the potential to succeed?

The Commitment to Excellence.

Before the school year began, the KIPP teachers personally visited every student and their parents at their home to explain the high expectations that would be expected of them. After discussing the KIPP program with the student and his/her parents, everyone was asked to sign the "Commitment to Excellence."

They all (parent, student, teacher) had to agree upon the four principles for success, what they called "The Four Factors" which included: more time for instruction, high-quality teaching, parental support and administrative support. The commitment they signed was a contract of sorts that each was expected to uphold for the entire year.

How's that for parental involvement???

Tomorrow I'll discuss my final thoughts from the book, so stay tuned!

Resources for Teaching in London

Classroom Canada website
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians ebook
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