Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mission Possible

A little over a month ago I was selected to read and offer opinions on the book, Mission Possible: How the Secrets of the Success Academies Can Work in Any School. Since I am still new to my profession, I jumped on the opportunity to learn more about the phenomenon behind the Success Academy Charter Schools that are seeing such drastic results from a body of students that many have given up on.

Eva Moskowitz and Arin Lavinia joined forces a few years ago to challenge the traditional way of thinking when it comes to schools. Since 2006, they have been working diligently to bring students of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds a fast-paced, rigorous education that leaves no “scholar” behind. Based on a lottery system, that thousands apply to for only hundreds of spots, students are chosen at random to attend a school that takes the focus off of them and puts it on the adults. “Huh? Why would you do that?”. My question exactly. It was after reading that I learned the belief behind the Success Academies is one that places teachers, principals, other school leaders, and even parents at the center. They hope that by equipping the adults in such a solid way, the children will reap the benefits.

I’m sure many of you are wondering why they would waste time training the adults when it is the students who are the ones we should be equipping for success. I was right there with you until I read this book. Think about it though, who was your child’s favorite teacher? The one who made learning exciting! Students love to soak up the lesson of one who is passionate about their craft. If a teacher has “checked out” then it can be guaranteed that the students are gone as well. A school with a stellar principal leading even more stellar teachers is a school that has success. Add supportive parents to the mix and you have a recipe for success. How do you make that happen?

Stagnation, being unable to accomplish one’s job at a high level, is one of the greatest sources of low teacher morale.  Why do you think this country treats teaching so differently than it does other professions?  

We need to support our teachers! I know this sounds redundant, especially coming from a teacher, but how else do you propose getting teachers excited about doing their jobs again. Let’s pretend you are a top-level businessperson who begins to lose support at work. Your clients send you hateful emails claiming that you are horrible at your job and your ideas are miserable. Ouch. Talk about a punch in the gut. Next you are told you need to work more for the aforementioned client, with no additional pay. This extra time will without a doubt take you away from time with your family and friends. Then, it gets worse when your workload triples as a big presentation, that you are expected to trump every other company in, nears. To top it off many around you don’t think your job is worthy of theirs. How can you be expected to do fantastic when all of these things are piled on you at once? That’s how many teachers feel. No wonder teacher morale is low in the United States!

So how do we fix it? Ah, the million dollar question. Many teachers are fighters who do not give up when the going gets tough. We should be thankful for that. I personally LOVE my job. I love the school I work in. I love the students I work with. I love the challenge behind it. I love that every day is different from the next. I love that look of joy on a child’s face when they finally “get it”. I love the emails of support from parents, bosses, coworkers, etc. I love that my field is constantly changing, therefore preventing the spaz in me from ever getting bored. What I don’t love is that many outside of my profession devalue the significance of what I, and many others, do.

I’m not here to whine for more money. I’m not here to force you to say, “ugh, another teacher complaining”. I’m not here looking for sympathy. I’m here asking you to support your teachers and the work they are doing in an often thankless job, something the Success Academies are doing in a big way.

Interested in reading more about the Success Academies and how they are helping kids in such an innovative way?? Enter the giveaway below!

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I was compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.


  1. My favorite teacher was my 3rd grade teacher. After spending 6 weeks in 2nd grade, I was promoted up to 3rd grade. She would stay after school every day to make sure I was caught up with the rest of the kids in class. She did whatever she could to help me, and always did it with a smile on her face. She is the one who has inspired me to become an elementary teacher. I hope I will be half the teacher that she has been.

  2. I always have mixed feelings about charter schools. I teach in a low income school, and we housed a charter school within our building. It was really hard to try to explain to my students why I was reusing paper in my printer and why I was paying for supplies out of my own pocket when a group of students were going to Costa Rica for a week. While it is an amazing opportunity for those students (who are picked by lottery), it really shows some disparity in our current system.

  3. Awesome giveaway! I love these types of books about education. So enlightening.

    My favorite teacher has been my high school band director. That's because he was the one that saw potential in me, told me to not give up, and pushed me to be a better musician. I hated music/band when I went to high school, but when I graduated, I was set on becoming a music educator.