What happens when administrator, teachers and parents work together to improve education? As Rocketship Education, a popular charter school group, has shown, a new model for learning can emerge to benefit kids who wouldn’t otherwise have access to high-quality schooling.
By moving beyond the standard model of public schools and focusing on excellence from a young age, Rocketship Education declares they’re “reimagining the traditional school system for today’s needs, and tomorrow’s opportunities.” Achievement is at the core of the Rocketship model, and the organization believes in bringing people together to help kids get the most out of modern educational tools.
Welcome to Personalized Learning
A personalized learning model is integral to the Rocketship experience. The charter school group has been a leader in implementing personalized learning methods to improve the educational environment for individual students.
Personalized learning involves integrating modern technology with traditional teaching methods to maximize each student’s potential through targeted programs. Rocketship Education does this by using “Learning Labs,” computer stations where kids use interactive programs to progress through different subjects at their own pace, making advances as they’re ready. This allows students all the time they need to complete assignments instead of being left behind as might happen in a standard classroom setting.
By recognizing the differences in the way kids process information, personalized learning provides an optimal instructional model for every child. Rocketship schools rotate their students between regular classrooms and Learning Labs to ensure all are granted access to individualized instruction while sparing educators the extra burden of trying to create programs catering to every learning style within a given class.
The Power of Engaged Parents
Parental involvement in education has always been important. A 2008 report by the Center on Innovation and Improvement highlights three “key principles” of parents being integral parts of the childhood learning experience:
- Actively helping kids to learn
- Involvement in schools and school activities
- Participating as “full partners” in education
In order for these elements to come together, parents need high-quality schools to which they can send their children. The Rocketship model aims to provide this to all parents regardless of where they live or how much they earn. Parents are also encouraged to be advocates for better learning environments at higher grade levels so that their kids can continue to grow once they move on from the elementary grades.
Being part of a child’s education means utilizing tools at home to facilitate learning outside the classroom. Rocketship schools aim to empower parents to do this and to be involved directly in the school environment to help students get the most out of their learning experiences. By being open to parents’ requests and creating an environment in which adults feel comfortable acting as catalysts for positive change, these charter schools are providing new ways for parents to influence childhood education.
Where kids come from, what they look like and how much money their families make shouldn’t be factors in whether or not they receive a good education. Nor should the concept of integration be forced to a degree where the dream of a unified classroom is undermined by discord. Valuing the natural diversity of a student body and delivering the same high-quality programs to every child results in a cooperative and cohesive environment from which all students can benefit.
Rocketship schools not only support natural integration of kids from all socioeconomic and racial groups but also practice “meaningful inclusion” to give students with disabilities more time in traditional classroom settings. Using a co-teaching model, educators work together to provide a balance between specialized services and standard instruction.
Developing a New Perspective
Traditional elementary schools recognize the importance of preparing every student to be successful in the real world, but this goal can sometimes be undermined by regulations, outdated methods and overwhelming testing protocols. It’s difficult for educators and students to feel inspired when large chunks of the year must be dedicated to test preparation and regular learning time is limited to prepackaged programs.
Setting goals, facilitating learning and providing ongoing motivation changes this dynamic to allow administrators and educators to focus on educational excellence. Rocketship schools involve school staff, parents and kids in the learning process to support a strong drive for achievement without losing sight of the best interests of teachers and students.
Every year, Rocketship teachers visit student homes to develop stronger relationships within the community. By removing the barriers between school and home, it’s easier to get in touch with the needs of families and improve the personalized learning programs of each student.
What Makes Rocketship Education Unique?
Rocketship Education is a non-profit network of public charter elementary schools. Serving kindergarten through fifth grade, these schools reach over 7,000 “Rocketeers” in underprivileged areas in California, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C. Rocketship leaders believe in personalizing the education track for all students and involving both teachers and parents in the learning process. With a “transformational” mindset, the Rocketship model caters to the specific needs of diverse student bodies to close the “achievement gap” in elementary school education.
Rocketship Education aims to serve low-income students in neighborhoods where good education can be difficult to access. To bring the best schooling to these kids, Rocketship Education looks for teachers specializing in specific subjects and integrates targeted professional development into the employment system. This unique approach keeps educators on top of the latest trends and methods so that they can help their students prepare to compete in the modern world.
Offering personalized learning to a variety of students is challenging and requires a great deal of hard work on the part of educators, administrators and parents. Through Rocketship and similar learning models, it’s possible to provide kids with high-quality education tailored to their needs. Engaging adults in the learning process and breaking down unnecessary barriers makes it possible to overcome challenges and create a school environment in which every child has a chance to reach his or her full potential.