Preston Smith has been a teacher in the San Jose area for three years, starting in August of 2001. After three-and-a-half years in an entry-level teaching capacity, Smith went on to found L.U.C.H.A. Elementary School, alongside parents, teachers, board members, and administrators he hand-picked just months before its inception. This experience, especially Preston’s ten years with Rocketship Education, has thoroughly taught him countless lessons about educational theory, planning, application, and everything in between.
Fortunately for every educator in English-speaking North America, Mr. Smith recently published an article in which he outlined ten things that were most important from his experience with the nexus of kindergarten through 5th grade public charter schools. Here are a select few of the most important.
Children with developmental, learning, and social disabilities should be included in regular activities for most of their time at school. Typically, schools strive to place students in special education classrooms for more than half of their time at school, although this hinders their abilities in several areas. However, Rocketship Education requires its disabled students and those with special needs to spend at least three-fourths of their school days in general education capacities, or those with fellow peers that aren’t disabled. This model is unique to Rocketship Education, called the meaningful inclusion model.
School systems should first test their plans at select locations, then make an administrative decision as to whether all schools should be subject to such changes. If all schools tested don’t respond well to such changes, the changes shouldn’t be rolled out in full. Rocketship Education experienced this with their flex model, in which classrooms’ responsibilities were delegated to three teachers and one oversight administrator. Although the flex model worked in a few schools, it didn’t work in 100% of them, urging Preston Smith and his administrators to roll back the flex model.
Teachers need to visit their students’ homes once annually. This helps them develop their learning plans more effectively, as a large part of Rocketship Education’s success is through its personalized learning platforms. Seeing firsthand where a child lives is a great way to fortify customized education endeavors.