Rocketship Education is a network of charter schools that offers a K-5 education. Most of their students come from low-income families and they are usually learning English as a second language. Despite these challenges, the students score very well on tests and are on the path to attending college. The first charter school was established in 2006 in San Jose, California. They now operate schools in California, Milwaukee, Nashville, and the nation’s capital.
Rocketship Education was profiled by one of NPR’s bloggers, Anya Kamenetz. While the profile was rough around the edges it did manage to raise a few important questions in regards to how schools are modeled and how to engage in new ways of teaching and learning. One thing about schools is that they are deeply personal to students, their parents, and the educators. Nobody wants to settle for “good enough”. Educators hold a lot of responsibility to teach children and just about every one of them takes this role very seriously.
Many schools nowadays are trying to find a balance between how classrooms are managed and what role technology plays in them. Rocketship Education finds itself in this same boat and struggles at coming up with the right answers. In regards to classroom management, they take an approach where bathroom breaks are scheduled and there are periodic “silent times” during the day. Every classroom has rules or else things would quickly devolve into total chaos.
Like most charter schools Rocketship Education has high expectations of their students. They want children to focus on achievement during the school day. The goal is to not make the classroom too militant when it comes to managing them while at the same time establishing order so that students can learn. Even the last US Secretary of Education said that classroom management was a topic he struggled with while working as a teacher.
The use of technology is another hard issue to resolve in classrooms. Students need to become comfortable with it but it shouldn’t take over the classroom. At Rocketship Education they use a blend of students learning on their computers while also partaking in traditional teaching with the teacher at the front of the class.