Nina Easton: Class Reimagined

Link to the article in Fortune

For those who think about education, as I do, it is important to have a thumbnail description of what kinds of things work. As Nina Easton writes in Fortune

[Eva] Moskowitz’s 32 Success Academy Charter Schools rank in the top 1% of all the state’s programs in math—and in the top 3% for English. … On a tour of Success Academy’s flagship school in Harlem, Moskowitz shared her philosophy on disrupting education.

Here are the basics, which I have quoted with elisions at the end of each point. See the article itself for more details: 

Kids should struggle. “There’s this sense in public education that kids are fragile, that their self-esteem will be hurt,” she says. “We believe self-esteem comes from mastery.” 
Chess is key to building agile minds.
Assume all your students are going to college.
Extend the same college expectations to special-ed students.
No coddling for teachers either. They are expected to work long days and longer school years and attend far more training sessions than regular city teachers. 
Principals, not just teachers, have to know their students.

What this Teaches about Teachers as Coaches: Several elements of this approach illustrate what I mean when I write about a teacher as “coach.” By “coach” I mean someone who motivates extraordinary effort on the part of students, as I see athletic coaches routinely doing in motivating extraordinary effort by those on a sports team. It doesn’t count as “coaching” in this sense if a teacher just gives the student a few helpful hints and recommendations. 

My sports coaches and my debate coach talked a lot about the glory of winning–so that we could almost taste it. Similarly, an effective strategy for academic coaching is to talk about winning in life, in part by going to college and having a great career. 

Also, notice that sports coaches are themselves typically quite enamored of the idea of winning. Someone is likely to be a much better teacher-as-coach if they are excited about the idea of helping their students win in life, and thirst for succeeding at this more than the run-of-the-mill teacher. With enough of a positive competitive spirit like this, with each trying to do better than average, average won’t be the same anymore.