OK, this is just one most good-news story about a turn-around middle school. But it’s interesting that time and again we notice the same ingredients for success whenever you read these stories. There’s the fanatical emphasis on structure, even regimentation. The nonstop checking to make sure every kid is accounted for. The detailed scripting of lesson plans, including the use of “direct instruction.” The constant use of testing-not for final evaluation, but to assess the exact extent of learning week to week. The nonstop feedback to the kids themselves. Every teacher checks to make sure that every student is accounted for, that every student is busy and engaged. Proper behavior comes first, then learning. Bars on windows are replaced by bright colors. And-here’s the Generation X (born 1961-1981) touch I really like-the school principal is fully in charge. No one looks to “the system.” It’s the principal who “owns” the school, is captain of the ship.
Principal: “”Children deserve the best, every day, now,” he said. ” ‘Can’t’ shouldn’t even exist in your dictionary. You have to find a way. That’s why we’re getting paid.”