Now this is interesting.
A friend sent me this article a few days ago, and I did not know what to make of it. I teach my students to look at the source of what they read, and since these words are from The Onion, it is clear that these words are written in jest. But there is a reason that the author… and readers… find this article humorous: charter schools have a reputation for being militaristic torture chambers that strip students of their rights as humans, force teachers to surrender union representation and to labor an ungodly number of hours, and still have no measurable gains to show as a result. For some charter schools, these stereotypes may ring true. But for many, they do not.
I am proud to begin work at one of America’s top charter networks this fall, and I look forward to sharing great literature with my students. Never before has a school offered me an outlined reading and writing curriculum (a beefy, rigorous one, at that) while simultaneously allowing me the autonomy a professional educator deserves. I get to start my year off with Animal Farm and end it with August Wilson’s Fences and The Autobiography of Malcolm X. I certainly was not granted access to those types of texts as a thirteen year old.
You know what’s the best thing about all this great literature? I am being given the TIME to activate my students’ prior knowledge about these texts. I am expected to encourage close readings, and my 2-hour blocks grant me ample precious moments to create a discourse about the Russian Revolution and American Civil Rights. My students will not just be reading words on a page, but they will engage in high-level discussions about history. For the first time in my teaching career, I will be given the adequate tools needed to make my classroom student-centric rather than teacher focused. My class will be nothing without my students, and I will be the adult that simply facilitates the knowledge discovered, deliberated on and developed into relevant modern connections by young people.
I can’t wait.