The fact is that children do not learn at the same speed, and they definitely learn differently from each other. One man recognized these facts and took the time to create an educational experience that would address these issues. Preston Smith’s Rocketship Education has done that by creating public charter schools that personalize students’ learning experiences. When the school first opened its doors, administrators believed that these students would be embarking upon a learning experience that would be entirely new, but the teachers and administrators discovered that they also had many things to learn, and those 10 lessons will be discussed here.
Lesson #1: Children Need to Start Learning at Home, and the Experience Must Be Individually Tailored to Their Specific Needs.
Rocketship Education believes that advanced technology is critical to children’s education, but in order for the technology to benefit them, teachers and administrators must know each child and each child’s family on an intimate level. Knowledge of their students’ home lives helps teachers get to know each student’s learning style so that they can be the most effective teachers possible. This is the reason that Rocketship Education schedules yearly home visits with every child and his or her family. The teachers get to know the whole child in this manner, and the teacher-student relationship is more meaningful.
Lesson #2: The Current School System Needs Demand to Get Things to Change.
Rocketship Education only consists of the elementary school grades. By not creating a full K-12 system, parents have the incentive to fight for the educational opportunities in middle school and high school that their children had in their Rocketship schools. Remaining an elementary school only also makes it possible to keep parents highly involved in the education of their children.
Lesson #3: Parents Learn that They Have a Lot of Power.
The creators of Rocketship Education wanted the influence of parents to be prominently featured in their children’s educational careers because it is parental power that helps children succeed in school. Parents can also use their power to make changes in the middle and high schools through the political system.
Lesson #4: Cultural Diversity Depends on the Teachers.
Rocketship Education creates a culturally diverse environment by accepting children of all races, socioeconomic backgrounds and ethnicities. The teachers also reflect the desire for diversity as they come from a multitude of racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds as well.
Lesson #5: Being True to One’s Principles Is Most Important.
People can say anything, but if their actions do not reflect their words, talking is meaningless. That’s why many teachers and administrators have enrolled their own children in Rocketship Education. These are the people who know how great Rocketship Education is for children, and that’s the reason they proudly put their children in these schools.
Lesson #6: Children Benefit from the Meaningful Inclusion Model.
At first, Rocketship Education did not believe that it could accommodate special needs kids. After a while, they came to the conclusion that a meaningful inclusion model could be effective. A meaningful inclusion model keeps special needs kids with the other children most of the day. Children who can function normally develop a sense of empathy for those who cannot. It also allows them to focus on each other’s similarities rather than their differences. Most importantly, children with disabilities in this type of environment have a higher degree of success and pride.
Lesson #7: People Should Never Stop Learning.
Rocketship Education tried something new called the “flex model.” The flex model did not work for every school, so the administrators scrapped the project, but they learned valuable lessons from the experiment. For example, they learned that it is important to receive actionable feedback and that student agency is necessary. First and foremost, they discovered that they should never stop learning.
Lesson #8: Attitude Is Key.
Educators who were not comfortable with the continuous learning model of Rocketship Education did not thrive there. The administrators learned that they must seek teachers who are amenable to the Rocketship way of doing things before they hire them.
Lesson #9: Two Heads Are Better than One.
Rocketship Education has thrived over the years because of many partnerships with supporters, leaders, professionals and community officials.
Lesson #10: Be Proud to Be a Public School.
Rocketship Education takes pride in being the backbone of this country’s educational system, and they are honored to give all children a first-rate educational experience.
The founder of Rocketship Education is a former teacher and principal by the name of Preston Smith. With his experience in this area, Mr. Smith set out to improve public schools, and he has done exactly that. Rocketship schools are now present in several states, including California, Washington, D.C., Tennessee and Wisconsin. Parents say that putting their children in a Rocketship school is like putting them in a private school, but they don’t have to pay for it.
About Rocketship Education
Rocketship Education is a non-profit collection of public elementary charter schools. What makes these schools different from other public schools is its reason for existing. Preston Smith founded Rocketship Education for the purpose of giving children in low-income school districts a chance at a high quality education without having to leave their own neighborhoods.
Preston Smith sought to close the achievement gap between public schools in affluent areas and public schools in lower income neighborhoods by focusing on technology. Teachers instruct students in a personalized manner that looks at the current needs of each individual child. This makes it possible to provide each child with the appropriate content at exactly the right time using the right method of instruction. The parents are a large part of this equation, and because of their experiences with Rocketship Education, they learn how to be lifelong advocates for their children’s education.
Rocketship Education’s national office is located in Redwood City, California, and has an office in Palo Alto, California as well.