Rocketship Education are a chain of public charter schools. The school was founded in San Jose, California in 2006. Approximately 75 percent of their students now speak English as a second language. The public charter school believes every student should have a high quality education and this begins in kindergarten.
Schools are personal and when students are mistreated the parents, community and educators are outraged. School leaders have a formidable responsibility regarding classroom management, staff allocation and technology. These areas are not unique to Rocketship and are handled by schools throughout the nation. Three powerful questions have been raised regarding the effectiveness of Rocketship schools. The first pertains to their classroom management. The public charter school does enforce certain rules such as silent time and bathroom breaks.
Every school approaches these issues differently, but Rocketship Education uses classroom skills such as routines boundaries, discipline and rewards to prevent chaos and ensure the students receive an excellent education. A lot of the rules used at Rocketship are also used at the other charter schools. The teacher training programs are highly structured to help teachers retain control over their classrooms. Maintaining the correct balance is complicated and a never ending struggle. Teachers must have the ability to use discipline to maintain boundaries and create culture in the classroom.
The second question was regarding the use of technology. The average student uses a computer eighty minutes per day. At Rocketship Education, this time encompasses five separate programs. Ensuring the students spend ample time on technology is not difficult. The hard part is determining what students are exploring, how the technology impacts learning and the core of the instruction. The teachers often assemble small groups to leverage their time customize their teaching processes for the students. Rocketship uses a lab rotation model which is a small group of students working with curriculum software. This is how the teachers and students become comfortable with new technology. This helps students strengthen existing skills while learning new skills. The correct use of technology is also a concern for all schools.
The final question is regarding intervention. This is about how the schools are staffed, which educators are given the assignments with the most difficult challenges and the best way to manage a large group of students working on online programs. Tutoring programs all over the country are using tutors without certification to support the students and assist them with their issues. There is also the question of how teachers should be spending their time because they are far outnumbered by the students. Some people believe this is where software comes into play. Others believe a teacher should be certified prior to becoming responsible for a large group of students. The answers to these questions are dependent on each individuals beliefs.
The approach used for staffing is also dependent on individual opinions. Every teacher has unique and special talents leading to the use of a different approach. This becomes more difficult when the budget is small and creativity is necessary to find time for interactions between small student groups and teachers. The core of Rocketship Education is the time teachers are spending with their students. There have been stories written about Rocketship both villainizing and supporting their efforts. The truth is Rocketship takes their responsibility to the students under their care very seriously. This work is extremely personal for every member of their staff. These individuals do ask the most meaningful questions each and every day. They work with their students, manage their classrooms, introduce technology and answer concerns regarding intervention. What is impressive, is all of this is done on a fairly small budget.