Rocketship Education is an innovative public charter school dedicated to providing its students with the most personalized learning experience possible. Let’s face it, not all children learn the same way or at the same speed as others. When Rocketship opened its doors to its first set of students a decade ago, the school believed that its students would be the ones taking on an exciting new learning career. As it turns out, the teachers and staff of Rocketship also did some learning of their own. The following are ten key lessons that the first ten years of serving area youth brought about.
* Learning Should be Individualized and Should Begin at Home
Parents are truly their child’s first teachers. As one of the very first proponents of personalized learning, Rocketship Education is an avid believer in utilizing today’s advanced technology to improve each student’s educational experience. However, individualized learning is about much more than harnessing technology to the benefit of each student. Successful educational techniques involve knowing each student and their families on a personal level. Being privy to this information and gaining an intimate relationship with students will allow teachers to understand the learning style of their students so they can teach them in the most effective manner possible. Teachers can’t develop effective one on one relationships with students at school, however. For this reason, Rocketship Education utilizes yearly home visits with each student’s family. This creates the opportunity for a deeper understanding of the student’s daily life, learning style, and personality traits, leading to more meaningful teacher-student relationships.
* We Need Demand to Create Desired Changes in the Current School System
Rocketship Education focuses exclusively on the elementary grade levels. What happens when a student graduates from 5th grade and leaves the school? Many parents of previous successful students of Rocketship Education have expressed interest in having a complete kindergarten through twelfth-grade school built that functions in an identical manner. While the creators and staff of Rocketship have considered this option, they feel it would undermine their ability to involve parents in their child’s educational career. It would also take away the ability for parents to fight for their rights of equal educational opportunities in the public school setting.
* Parents Have More Power Than They Realize
The main goal in the creation of Rocketship Education was to bring parents more to the forefront of their children’s educational career, enabling families and school professionals to thrive. Rocketship has always believed strongly in the power of parents and the significance of this power in influencing their children’s educational success. Since Rocketship Education exclusively caters to elementary grade students, this allows parents to better advocate for improved middle and high school educational experiences for their children as well. Rocketship believes that parents have the power to bring about these important changes in the current middle and high school system on a political level.
* Teachers Have the Power to Create Culturally Diverse Schools
Rocketship Education doesn’t believe that the simple act of integrating students of different cultural backgrounds will automatically bring about schools that are accepting of this type of diversity. Rocketship Education doesn’t believe that cultural segregation is acceptable. As a result, Rocketship warmly accepts children of all races, ethnic backgrounds, and socioeconomic classes with open arms. They believe that cultural, racial, and socioeconomic diversity is a positive thing, but this doesn’t mean that children should have to leave their immediate community simply to have the luxury of attending a top-quality school. In addition to student diversity being prized, Rocketship also places a great deal of value on employing a diverse set of teachers and staff members.
* Walking the Walk is Most Important
Words can be empty and meaningless without actions that support them. Many of the teachers and staff members of Rocketship Education have children of their own that attend the school. Like the majority of other parents out there, they don’t enroll their own children at Rocketship to make a point or to affect other people’s opinions of the school. They do it simply because they want their children to attend a great school, and they know firsthand how wonderful the programs managed at Rocketship truly are. After all, if the school wasn’t good enough to send their own children there, how could they promote the school as being a place of quality educational experiences?
* The Meaningful Inclusion Model is Beneficial for Children
Rocketship initially battled with providing properly for the needs of disabled students. Over time, however, they quickly discovered how effective a meaningful inclusion model really is. A meaningful inclusion model is designed to keep students with disabilities or other deficits in the general education classroom with their peers for the majority of the school day. The benefits of this type of model are enormous. For starters, normally functioning students are allowed the opportunity to develop understanding and empathy for their peers who struggle with physical or mental deficits of some type. A meaningful inclusion model allows everyone in the classroom to focus on how they are similar to one another, not the ways that they may differ. The set-up has proven time and time again that it fosters a sense of pride and a greater degree of success in students with a wide variety of disabilities.
* Learning Should be a Lifelong Process
Several years ago, Rocketship Education decided to test out a learning approach called the flex model. This model was designed to create a dynamic learning centered process led by three different teachers and an additional staff member. Since there was a lot less structure with this model, it became difficult to maintain proper quality control across various schools. Since maintaining quality control across schools is vital, the flex model was discontinued after the initial pilot phase was completed. However, the flex model still provided some excellent insights into learning while it was in use for that short time. The flex model taught school officials the importance of student agency, actionable feedback, and the importance of continuing to learn.
* Mindset is Vital
The innovative learning setting provided by Rocketship is not for everyone. Some educators ended up feeling judged or burned out quickly in this type of setting focused on continual learning. Through this process, Rocketship learned how to select educational professionals that thrive the way their students thrive in this type of unique setting.
* Solitude is Not the Way to Go
Growing a network of effective and unique public schools is a lofty goal requiring a lot of dedication and hard work. It also required the hands on support of many professionals, leaders, and supporters of the cause initiated by Rocketship Education. Their success has been contingent on a healthy relationship with other professionals, shareholders, and community officials alike.
* Pride in Public Schools is a Must
Rocketship functions like a private school but without the hefty price tag associated with private school educations. However, Rocketship doesn’t want to be known this way. Instead, they firmly believe in the public school setting as being the backbone of the educational structure in this country. As such, they continue to pride themselves on providing a superior public school educational opportunity for all their students.
Rocketship Education is an innovative collection of public elementary schools designed to eliminate the gap between teachers and parents. Rocketship is a non-profit network of public schools serving elementary grade students of all socioeconomic, racial, and cultural backgrounds. Rocketship also places a great deal of importance on serving low-income areas so that these children have an equal opportunity for acquiring a quality education.
The leaders and instructors employed by Rocketship Education schools are tenacious and driven individuals with a passion for helping their students thrive. Transformational and passionate leaders fuel the continued success of Rocketship Education. Their dynamic employees allow them to continue serving as a leader in the educational movement toward closing the gap that has existed between school officials, parents, and students.
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