Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mission Possible & Stagnation in schools

Book Cover Image for Mission Possible: How the Secrets of the Success Academies Can Work in Any School 
Mission Possible:
How the secrets of the success academies can work in any school
by Eva Moskowitz & Arin Lavinia
ISBN: 978-1118167281
$18.11 (paperback) or $15.37 (Kindle)
176 pages, for teachers & parents

From the back cover:
How can a charter school in the middle of Harlem emerge as one of the top schools in New York City and State in just three years? The Success Academies operate from the simple notion that principals and teachers—the adults—hold the keys to educational excellence. If adults improve their performance, set the bar high enough, and believe that children can rise to their expectations, students are propelled forward at lightning speed.

Mission Possible, written by Founder and CEO of the Success Academy Charter Schools, Eva Moskowitz, and literacy expert, Arin Lavinia, offers practical, classroom-tested ideas for dramatically improving teaching and learning. Through detailed descriptions of how to keep students challenged and engaged, how to ensure that the adults are constantly learning, and how to use the Success Academies' THINK Literacy program, Moskowitz and Lavinia describe what can be accomplished when schools shift their focus to improving the adults' performance. The included companion DVD provides clips and interviews, illustrating how any school can be transformed to achieve remarkable results.

Read Chapter 1 
Website:  Read Mission Possible   
Watch the Trailer

My thoughts:
I was given the prompt: "Stagnation, being unable to accomplish one's job at a high level is one of the greatest sources of low teacher morale. Why do you think this country treats teaching so differently than it does other professionals?" 

I personally believe that Stagnation is caused by 3 things:
1) Government Interference with Rules & Regulations & cutting funding - Over the years the government has allowed schools, states and other countries to draw us away from teaching our kids the basics of education. I have a friend who just finished her student teaching and while she had been teaching for over 25 years she had to return to school to get her masters. While student teaching she was astounded by how much teachers have to do - over and above teaching the 3R's which takes about 25% of their time 75% is spent assessing and reporting on children. 

No longer do our teachers have time to make sure each child knows their letters, how to sound out words, how to read ON LEVEL - but now they spend more than 50% of the school day assessing how a child interacts with others, if they understand racial equality and how to treat someone that is another race, if they can skip, put together a puzzle, hold a pencil correctly, do they know how to feed themselves and know what color a tomato is, etc, etc, etc.

Our children are so busy being tested and prodded they no longer are children - but little subjects to be fit into a mold. Yes, it's important that children know how to interact with each other - but it's even more important that they know how to read, do math skills, understand science and language - and be a child.

There is no reason for the government to cut funding to schools & programs before they cut funding for the arts, illegals, and other things that are not a basic right to life in the US. Our government has their priorities mixed up - The Basic Right to Life in the US (were not discussing abortion here) should include: Physical Safety, the right to eat, have a roof over our head and the right to an education. These Rights are mandatory - not an option. Education funding should never be cut & teachers should not be laid off because of funds being cut!!!

Lest you all think I believe Stagnation is ALL because of the Government let me relieve you of that thought:

2) Parents - Each week I host a literacy booth at the farmer's market and at various schools during craft shows, teacher's in service events, etc - I am continually amazed how many parents will completely pass by the opportunity to sit with their child and read a book (they actually either have me babysit their kids while buying a purse or makeup or drag them away). For some reason priorities have gotten mixed up in our homes - Instead of the Basic Right to Life being Safety, Education, a Home and Food - in many homes its: Junk Food (which slows down the brain and makes it difficult to learn & understand), Videos & Computer Gaming (which slows down learning and turns our kids into zombies), Stuff - toys, gadgets taking over hands-on parenting, and bad behavior & disrespect for others (parents not teaching their children how to behave away from home and that disrespect toward adults and those older than us is absolutely NOT Acceptable).

Ok - I'm off my soapbox there. I believe we have 2 kinds of parents. Those who work with their kids and those that don't. Those that do are the ones who find ways to teach their kids either with workbooks, videos or by finding fun creative ways to help their children learn visually & cognitively. Both ways are wonderful. Then there are parents like I had who don't read except that 1 book at bedtime, who don't teach their child their ABC's, beginning math skills and then expect them to Succeed at school. It's so very important for children to have certain "TOOLS" when they begin Preschool and Kindergarten.

Finally, I am amazed at how many parents don't discipline their children and teach them how they are expected to behave when away from home. I'm not applauding child abuse - but every child should know when they are away from home that hitting a teacher or another child is not acceptable. This is not something the schools and teachers should be expected to teach children. This is the parents job. Period.

3) Lastly, the teachers. Teachers have it rough. They go to school everyday, work with the children, go without breaks, lunches and study time so they can work with kids who are struggling. Then they go home and do the work they should have time to do at school. When they get paid they have to not only pay their mortgages, child care expenses, food, etc - they have to buy the supplies for the children that don't have what they need, provide the carrots & crackers for children like me who didn't get fed in the morning, hand out mittens and socks for the kids who don't have any.

Yes, there are teachers who have given up (and many that need to leave the field but they've gotten comfortable with not doing a good job and just don't care). These are teacher's that need to be flexible and learn to work with kids with ADD, etc - finding out a child with an "issue" is not a reason to refuse to teach them. Teachers need to be given the tools they need to do their job. 

Wow! I think I went way off the expected answer - but every child has the Basic Right to Life: Safety, Education, a Home and Food . Period - It's time our government quit messing with that and starting building on these basics.

This wonderful book is eye-opening and I so wish I had had the opportunity to go to this school although to be honest I don't know if I would of excelled there - I struggled just to learn the basics. I understood them but couldn't seem to apply them. I applaud these teachers that stepped way out of their comfort zone and choose to make a difference in the life of a child and I applaud the children & parents who made the decision to accept the Basic Right of an Education and Apply themselves even though it was difficult. Good Job to the Success Academies!

Get Connected:
Be sure to stay tuned and learn more on Eva's Facebook and Twitter pages.

I have the opportunity to give one of you a copy of this book. I'm going to make it ultra easy today since you had to read a book just to get to this point. LOL. Here's what you need to do:

****US Entries Please****
Be sure to leave a comment for each below the post. Thanks!

1) Mandatory Entry: Leave a comment below and tell us about your favorite teacher when you were a child - how did they encourage and give you the tools to SUCCEED in school? ****

2) Optional Entries - (be sure to leave the hyperlink or username in your comment):
    a) "LIKE" Mission Possible on Amazon.
    b) "Retweet" this post on Twitter & leave me the URL in your  
        comment below so I can verify. (Click Retweet below) 
    c) Follow Eva on Facebook & leave an encouraging comment.
    d) Follow Eva on Twitter & leave an encouraging comment.

I was compensated for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own


  1. My favorite teacher was my 11th AP History Teacher. It was so easy to get him off topic. But I credit him with one thing, he taught me well how to write a beautiful BS essay and make him think I knew what I was talking about. LOL

  2. Wow, I had lots of wonderful teachers! I guess my favorite was my economics teacher. I was in special ed. and he encouraged me to go to college. It helps so much when someone believes in you. :)

    1. I'm so glad you had a great experience at school. That one teacher is such a blessing aren't they?

  3. My absolute favorite teacher was my 1st grade teacher. Mr. Wallin. He made learning SO fun! I think that's the key to a love of life long learning... it has to also be attention grabbing fun!
    And... after lunch when they told us to go back to our 'homeroom'... I walked all the way home and went to my room. He laughed, I didn't get in trouble and never made that mistake again :)

    1. You know if that happened today you would of gotten in big trouble - leaving school grounds. Oh no - that dates us doesn't it? Walking to school. We used to walk to the sitter's for lunch everyday and then walk back to school afterwards. I love all these stories!

  4. Mr. Korb. He was hard nosed and didn't take any messing around in his class room, but I learned so much in Chemistry, a class I had zero interest in and was able to be a tutor in college for the subject.

  5. Our family was in such a situation that I had to stay home from school to take care of my younger brothers and sisters. We had a family friend who was a teacher and she offered to tutor me for free in every subject so that I could have an education. I always exceeded well above my grade level and thanks to her, I was able to take my GED and enter college early. The cause for success with this teacher was that she was passionate and sincere. Also, she would not let me move on to the next step of a lesson without truly understanding the immediate concepts. I am still horrible at math but I have enough reasoning skills that I can figure things out. She saved my educational future! (Thanks Dawn) -
    Jenny at dapperhouse

    jenny at dapperhouse

  7. I just started reading this today! Thanks for your review!

  8. I can't believe how many parents just let their kids run wild these day either. If I had tried do some of the stuff they my dad would've flipped!!

    1. Tell me about it! We didn't have a lot of rules growing up (farm kids) but the ones we had were set in stone - no hitting each other, no language and respect your elders!

  9. Thanks for sharing! That was a real eye-opener. So sad. SMDH (Detroit Mom)