Skip to content
SA Together Again: We’re back in classrooms and taking learning to new levels!
Blog

Mission Possible

Stories and insights on excellent education.

In Defense of Success Academy

This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post Blog

When I think of the demands on teachers today, I picture the cover of the classic children’s folktale “Caps for Sale,” in which a mustachioed cap salesman falls asleep under a tree, wearing his entire stock of wares on his head. This image, unsurprisingly conjured by an elementary and middle school teacher of five years, suggests the staggering expectations policy-makers and the public have of teachers in the 21st century.

Teachers are expected to possess strong content knowledge, pedagogical expertise in rooms of diverse learners, and a heroic grasp of classroom psychology. They must close gaps in content mastery, develop students’ interpersonal skills, and create project-based learning experiences that require critical thinking and analytical reasoning. Of course, they are assumed to have artistic skill in designing inviting classroom environments and jaw dropping bulletin boards, as well as technical proficiency in integrating new media to make lessons engaging for the modern kid. They are to do all this and much more with a calm, cool demeanor, on a meager paycheck, and with minimal recognition–as teachers, our “caps” runneth over.

I spent four years teaching at Success Academy Charter Network, which recently came under attack in the New York Times for the incredible demands made of their teachers and students. And yes, Success is upfront about their unwavering commitment to excellence and setting a high bar for all involved, but what I found to be most staggering was the profound support offered to teachers to meet the demands of the day.

Artisanal lesson planning? Not necessary with Success Network curriculum specialists who develop world-class units and lesson plans centrally, then refine them in workshops built for teachers to differentiate for the unique learners in their care. Amateur travel agent? No longer required with a Success Network operations team to plan relevant, fun-filled field-trips for learners to engage with the world outside their classroom doors. Teachers as statisticians? Nope! Success hires student achievement managers to analyze classroom data and help teachers use this information to shape instructional decisions enabling all students to achieve mastery.

Since the inception of mass public schooling in the 19th century, America has added to teachers’ plates faster than we have reformed the systems surrounding them to provide reciprocal support. Teacher attrition is not solely a Success Network problem – it is a national crisis, with most new teachers leaving the profession before five years, and the legions who persist, consider similar course due to the unyielding challenges of the profession.

The Success Network is experimenting with ways to unburden teachers. Yet even with these innovative supports, the job is difficult, and many facets of the model still need improvement for teachers and students alike. But, should we allow perfect to be the enemy of great? Success schools are changing the lives of scholars daily through rigorously high expectations, and we will never waiver in our demand. Our work is hard and we need reporting to galvanize communities of educators to move solutions forward for kids. Success has many effective practices to share in a sector starved for guidance, and many positive testimonials from teachers bursting with inspiration. I was greatly saddened to find most of them absent from Ms. Taylor’s reporting – hopefully, in the future she’ll examine how we sort our caps with greater closeness.

Written by Danielle Hauser April 17, 2015

Blog

Related posts

Protecting the planet, one world-class school at a time

November 12, 2021 Success Academy

Over the past two weeks, all eyes were on world leaders as they convened in Glasgow for the 2021 Climate Change Conference; the health of our planet has never been more critical. At Success Academy, our standard for excellence includes an investment in sustainability and an environmentally responsible approach to our operations and physical spaces.   ... Read more

Thank you to the veterans in our community!

November 10, 2021 Success Academy

The call to military service is not answered lightly, and those who sign up to serve our nation are often some of the most mission-driven people among us. It should come as no surprise, then, that so many veterans continue to serve their communities in some form after their military careers.  We’re lucky to have... Read more

“Happy Children Learn Better” – An SA parent reflects on the return to campus

October 7, 2021 Success Academy

Success Academy reopened its doors to scholars across the city in August, safely ushering students back into the classroom after an unprecedented 2020-21 school year. To keep our scholars safe — and learning — it’s more important than ever that we work together with families and guardians to ensure everyone in our community is on... Read more

Enroll your child

We’re now accepting K-4 applications for the 2022-2023 school year.

Work with us

Build your career while making an impact at Success Academy.