My daughter just completed her first year at Coney Island Prep Middle (5th grade) and I'm very pleased with her academic performance. The support she has received from her teachers has been phenomenal. I think that she is on her way to understanding that learning is a growth process not just about getting a grade. With CIP's approach I think student's get to see the results of their efforts and how their choices directly influence their performance-- being able to make this connection is invaluable.
Thank you Mr. Narisi for handling all my annoying phone calls like the very first time. I must have called you everyday.... You should give a seminar on "how to maintain a pleasant and calm disposition when talking with annoying parents."
Teachers are effective because they care, but also because they have to be. Teachers are continually pushed to find students, redo homework, accept late work for half points, and create bonus packages for those falling short. This is great for the students who need the extra help, but frustrating to have to do for the students who simply choose not to do their work.
With a school day that goes from 7:30 - 4 (and for some students 5), with only a 20 minute, mandatory seated, lunch, the required homework amount to be given by each teacher is way too much. The students are brain dead by the end of the day and need a well deserved break. There is no life-work balance for the students (nor the teachers). Because of this, the students don't do the homework, punishments ensue, more work is required on the teachers part, and so on and so forth.
The pressure is put on the teachers to ensure student success. If students do not do class work, homework, or assignments, then teachers are to continue to provide extra work so students can catch up or accept late work for at least half points. Because of this, students do not need to develop persistence, grit, or determination. It is the teachers who are pushed to track down the students and give them the extra credit work. When students are failing because they do not do the work, the question directed towards the teacher is, "What are you going to do about ensuring this student's success?" The students are not asked said question nor are they held to the same kind of expectations.
For the students to develop respect, they need to feel respected. There is a system of demerits and expectations in place that teachers are required to follow and this actually makes it very hard for teachers and students to build relationships and gain mutual respect. Because of this, the students push back and the teachers, who are exhausted and overworked, react sometimes equally as poorly. It is a perpetual cycle, enforced by the admin, and out of the teacher's control. Eventually things do get better, but it takes longer than it should and doesn't get as good as it could.
Student Deans (disciplinarians) are very concerned with befriending students more so than raising the bar with regards to behavior. Students are provided with excuse after excuse for their poor choices, and have also been known to be rewarded for the most basic of expectations, (i.e. pizza for lunch if they don't get sent out of class). The students have learned how to use this system to their advantage and the disrespectful behavior continues.
The school is grade focused. Numbers are more important than actually wanting to and enjoying learning. This leads to a LOT of cheating. However, because the school staying open is dependent on high grades, the consequences are minimal and teachers are pushed to create more opportunities for students to get and keep their grades high, (more work for teachers). Learning is not the focus and is definitely lacking, but scores are through the roof. Copying and cheating is an epidemic here, but the students learn from an early age that scores are of pivotal importance above all else.