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.
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 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.
I came to this school very excited to be starting a new chapter in my life, getting to know some new students, and working with some great staff. In my many years of teaching, this has been an incredibly difficult year for me and my very first year needing sleep meds and professional counseling, all in an effort to just get through it.
Working at this school has been one of the worst experiences I've ever had in all of my many years of teaching. Teacher's are shown very little respect and trust and are constantly being micromanaged, 'coached' live in front of students, and video-taped and criticized, for a lesson format they they are forced into using.
Each teacher is REQUIRED to give students homework after a (too) long day of classes. The students are so disengaged and lethargic (their only down time is 20 minutes of lunch) that homework is rarely done and only causes problems and extra work for teachers.
This school is full of amazing teachers, however, they are not permitted the freedom or trust to conduct class as they see best. Teachers are directed as to how class must be carried out. Most of class is to be done in silence. The system makes it difficult for teachers to build relationships with their students, which affects their class culture and their effectiveness.