Saturday, February 11, 2012

Work Hard. Be Nice.

I love chapter 15 - all will learn! Did you like it? Why or why not?

Chapter 16 - The porch and homework! thoughts?

Chapter 17 - Memorization, chants, etc....

Chapter 18 - Thoughts....


  1. Chapter 15- loved it too! Gotta a build a culture- one that students can claim as their own. Feinberg and Levin knew that to get the kids to buy in KIPP had to be something that was just a bit different from the regular. The kids were made to feel special and they rose to the standards that their teachers and them set. I really liked the saying 'There are no shortcuts'! The students realized that they were in charge of their own learning. Their teachers were there to keep them on the right track. NMS is still struggling as we build a culture of learning. The 'buy-in' is still in the fledgling stage. We will get there. Just as Kevin and Feinstein struggled through that summer, we do too as change takes place. There will be many misunderstood moments like when the little girl told the teacher she knew where the keys were. Priceless.

  2. Chapter 17- proven brain research fact. Chanting and repetition solidify learning making it become lasting. These guys knew what they were doing!!!

  3. I liked Chapter 15 too! I think that I have always known this idea but never had it defined for me... I don't know that I have thought of building culture in a school in those words but it is truly powerful. We went to visit Yes Prep and the culture they have built is quite strong and you can see it! I liked how Levin and Feinberg hit some roadblocks in their way to building their culture and sat down, regrouped, and discussed ways to get what they wanted in the school.

    The porch is an interesting idea - in theory, I like it a lot! They had to build in a culture behind the idea of the porch so that students didn't talk to the ones on the porch. That must have taken a lot of consistency among the adults and work to get it accomplished. I applaud them for it, because it is wonderful that the kids get to stay in the classroom and still get their consequence.

    Yes, I love the chanting and repetition - if you go on You Tube, you can search Harriett Ball and watch her do some of these chants. I like how they build a "team/family" feel and help students learn at the same time!!

  4. Ch. 15 I loved reading about their classroom being a masterpiece with the sign over the door, and the dolphins and the word clouds. Of course children are inspired by their surroundings. I am too! It reminded me of the time I made my classroom into “The Decimal Zone”. It was fun. I also liked it when the teachers taught the kids what to do about lost homework. They very reasonably said, "Kids this age lost things, so they taught them how to find it." As teachers, we sometimes have to remind ourselves that kids weren’t born knowing certain things that upset us. The other thing I really appreciated was when Feinberg gave in when he disagreed with Ms. Verdin. She was his administrator and while Feinberg and Levin were clearly not happy with the administrations they worked with, they did agree to work for them. They had a responsibility to work within the system they were paid to work in. They had great ideas and were very successful, but we teach our kids to respect those in authority over us and I think that even Levin and Feinberg needed to model this. They would not tolerate anything less from their own students.

    Ch. 16 “Being in the zone, the mystical realm of perfection where everything fits, Being touched by God”! WOW I loved, loved, loved this. I remember a lesson I taught with Linda Alderman with the CBRs and at one point we looked at each other and we both knew. It was the most exciting moment I had ever had in the classroom. The crescendo built through the period by the activity and questioning until we realized our algebra kids were making calculus connections! Big dogs indeed. I was a little uncomfortable with the porch idea going to the point of making the child cry but I do see the advantage to setting the child apart from the others and making them see that their decisions affect others and that they had broken their commitment.

    Ch. 17 Snapped, crackled and popped! It was an exciting room and I’ll bet the kids never got bored. Very cool how the slogans were painted on the walls.

    Ch. 18 His questions were thoughtful, “What is your dream?” By letting Levin speak to his passion Fliegel got true insight into Levin, certainly more information and insight than if he had gone down a list of specific questions.

  5. I enjoyed Chpt. 15. and especially liked the story about Melissa that when she began to cry that Levin switched to a more comforting voice explaining in a rationale way that all she had to do was set aside time to do her homework, yet there was no other option. I liked the message of clear consistent expectations without emotional reactivity.

  6. Chapter 15 is the best so far. Key words : fun; excitment;focused. We all know that when kids get bored that is when they get in trouble. The master teacher keeps things moving. I think we still have some "stand and deliver" people here at NMS but that is slowly changing.
    I love the idea of the porch. It also reiterates the placement of responsibility on the students. They make a committment, just as the teahcer does, and ALL most take responsibilty for their job.
    Chapter 17 describes an old school approach with a modern flair. A product of Catholic Schools, most of what we learned was memorization, not as fun as the chants, but repetition none the less and I still remember verbatim some of the things I was taught in 2nd grade. Repetition WORKS!!
    WE are in a reverse situation here than Feinberg and Levin were. In Spring Branch in general and NMS in particular, there is tremendous support from the administration. They are the ones selling this concept to the teachers, not the other way around. We also are fortunate to work in a atate without a teacher's union. It is not the person with the most seniority that is necessarily right for the coul;d be the first year teacher with the passion for their job and the acceptance of our kids. The same kids have walked through these doors for the past 21 years...they are not going to change without our fight to instill a culture of learning.

  7. I love reading yall's thoughts! Thank you for sharing and keeping up with this blog. It is really important that we all talk and this certainly gives us a place to do so on our own time! Jan - I love your thoughts on the "mystical perfection" I mostly love your enthusiasm for it and you are right - it makes me want to go back to being a teacher in a classroom!! Thanks everyone for your posts!

  8. Chapter 15--I loved reading this chaper. Maybe as it took Feinburg and Levin a few years to get better and better, the quote hit me, as it did Feinburg "Toto, we"re not in Kansas anymore". NMS is feeling, seeing and being the change. I am loving it and being part of this. The responsibility is falling on the kids and they know it, It's cuz, isn't working anymore!!!
    Chapter 16--The porch and homework!! Well, I am in favor of it because to me it just let's the kids understand they need to be responsible for all they do good or bad. Then maybe we have learned our lesson!!I think consistency works for both the kid and adults.

  9. I love the Toto comment! I agree also with you Minga - that we are on the cusp of being able to create something really most fantastic! We work with some amazing teachers and professionals and paraprofessionals who are going to be major players as we change the culture at NMS!