How to Choose a School
How to Chose a School – 5 Quick Tips
How to choose a school? It’s a vexing (and anxiety-producing) question! Today, applications are due to your child’s current elementary school if you’re applying to new middle schools opening in September 2014.
If you’re applying to new middle schools opening in September 2014, applications are due today to your current elementary school.
— NYC Public Schools (@NYCSchools) March 12, 2014
Charter school vs public school is not the only version of “school choice.” Many of us are involved in school choice. We may be parents involved in choosing which high school our children attend, or we may be teachers involved in having parents evaluate us for fit of their children, or we may be both.
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Amanda Ripley has some interesting suggestions about how to evaluate a school from her book The Smartest Kids in the World. Here’s how to look for a school, in her opinion, if you want one that will prepare your child to solve problems and think critically.
Here is our list of 5 tips for How to Choose a School
- Watch the students. It’s great if you can actually visit a school while in session and watch classes. Look for student engagement with the material. It shouldn’t be too easy and it should be stimulating to them.
- Talk to the students. Two good questions are “What are you doing right now? Why?” It’s a great sign if the kids can answer the second question, because it indicates their level of awareness of the purpose of their schoolwork. Here’s another question to ask “If you don’t understand something, what do you do?”
- Ask about the school’s weaknesses. This will tell you about how they think about the school
- Ignore Shiny objects. Most of the toys have, as she says “no proven learning value whatsoever.” Don’t let them tell you otherwise.
- Ask the principal hard questions. “How do you choose your teachers?” Find out if the principal gets to watch the job applicant actually teach a class before they hire them. “How do you make your teachers better?” The more specifics the better. Professional Development is a key for improving instruction and keeping teachers sharp. “How do you measure success?” You want a clear vision. “How do you make sure the work is rigorous enough?” The fundamental thesis of this book is that the best school systems in the world prioritize educational rigor over any other possible educational mission. A school where the principal and the parents are more animated by the football team is one that is going to have a more rigorous football team, and a less rigorous academic mission.
What are your tips? How did you choose your child’s school? We want to know! Post on our Facebook page here, or Tweet at us here.
Amanda Ripley’s book “The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way” is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Smartest-Kids-World-They/dp/1451654421/
Jared Gellert is the executive director of the Center for Integrated Training and Education
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