Make Mine A Model School
This guest blog post was written by Robin Doordan, a team member of Innovative Schools.
Make Mine A Model School is a community-based campaign to mobilize Delaware educators, students, families, and citizens who want modern schools that inspire passionate teaching and learning. The campaign is supported by Innovative Schools, a local non-profit public school support center.The goal of the Make Mine A Model School Campaign and Innovative Schools is to modernize Delaware’s public school system by providing schools and students with choices for academic programs that offer new and engaging ways of teaching and learning, and that prepare students to become members of a global community.
This December three local community groups, with the support of the Innovative Schools and the Make Mine A Model School Campaign, will submit applications for new charter schools in New Castle and Kent Counties. These schools will offer new educational options to students and families in their communities. If approved, these schools will open in 2013 and will replicate three of the school designs in Innovative Schools’ Portfolio of Model Schools – an Expeditionary Learning Elementary School, a BIG Picture High School, and an Early College High School.
What’s unique about these school designs? Schools included in Innovative Schools’ Portfolio of Model Schools exhibit the following characteristics:
- Overlay core subject areas with 21st century themes and recognize that skills such as global awareness, critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and collaboration need to be mastered in addition to the academic content.
- Offer new and engaging ways of learning for students by reconsidering how time, curriculum, personnel, culture, and technology are used to maximize learning.
- Go beyond “best practices” by making use of classroom structures and instructional methods that lead to higher student engagement and deeper learning.
- Incorporate strong family and community involvement in meaningful ways.
- Embrace high expectations and insist that academic rigor and relevance pervade all facets of the school.
- Teach students to self-assess and articulate the standards for high quality work.
- Utilize a small school model to foster a culture and community of caring where all students are known well by adults and mentors.
- Value their teachers and embrace professional development as a vehicle leading to students’ academic success.
- Measure student success through multiple measures that accurately reflect what students know, understand, and are able to do.
- Utilize student data in meaningful ways so that planning and instruction are based on student needs and actual performance.
- Demonstrate restorative justice and creative problem solving in the approach to discipline, working to solve the root problem of the student’s misbehavior and helping the student plan for similar situations in the future.
- Develop leaders and leadership skills across principals and teachers.
In addition to unique school designs, an important part of making sure charter schools are successful is having a good governing board. The board provides effective governance and oversight to their charter schools through examining best practices for school leadership and management, considering strategies to ensure school accountability, and strengthening foundations for superior school governance. Over the next several months, the members of the Founding Boards for these three new schools will undergo extensive Board training to understand their roles and responsibilities to ensure appropriate financial and academic oversight for their school.
Members of these Founding Boards are asking the community to share their opinion to determine the interest and demand for these new public charter schools. Students, parents, educators, and other community members can learn more about each of the school concepts, view videos of the school designs in action, and complete an online survey at www.makemineamodelschool.org.