An Oakland Teacher Inspired by Next Gen Schools in Chicago

By Linda Rogers

One of the many benefits of winning the Next Generation Learning Challenges grant is that three other teachers (Ms. Weissman, Mrs. Sanders, Mrs. Taymuree) and I were able to visit schools in Chicago that are also in various stages of the process of creating Next Generation Schools. I was so inspired by what I saw.  We saw three schools and each one was approaching their unique challenges differently.  They were all getting results!  I was impressed by their collaboration, trust, and commitment.  Some of my many take aways were the importance of goal setting and publicly posting the progress students, a class, or the whole school was making.

This poster was in the hall of Cesar Chávez Multicultural Academic Center showing their reading progress.  They are “The Bulldogs.”  Each child’s ID number was on a bone on a magnetic board.  Students were able to move their bones when the results of their state tests came in.  The different colors stood for different grade levels.  The bones were anonymous but each child knew their own number.  The students were very aware of what their goals were and excited to reach them.

Inspirational quotes that matched their values towards education were posted throughout the school.

A panel of older students shared with us their feelings about their school.  They were each aware of their own goals for their future including high school, college, and beyond.  One student was even planning on being President!

What’s more impressive is that this school is located in one of the most violent neighborhoods of Chicago. This school went from being 47 percent proficient on state tests to 97 percent proficient in four years! The principal told us the most important part of this change was everyone being united behind the values of their school!

Redwood Heights’ students will soon be reaping the benefits of all of our newfound inspiration.

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Linda Rogers is a First Grade Teacher at Redwood Heights School in Oakland Unified School District. Follow her at @lindrogers.
 

 

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