Mission Possible (book giveaway!)

I was recently given a paid opportunity to read and report on the book Mission Possible by Eva Moskowitz and Arin Lavinia.  We’ll take a break from our regularly scheduled "Hannah"-centric, (completely narcissistic and wonderful) reading and further our minds!  One lucky reader will win a copy of the book.

(Contest is closed, winner was comment #4 using a random number generator, congrats to melissa, and thanks to all for entering!)

The following is a sponsored post: I was compensated for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own, however.


First a brief (well, sort of brief) synopsis of the book I was asked to read:

Mission Possible, by Eva Moskowitz and Arin Lavinia, tells the reader how the Success Academies work.  It starts with the background and history of the schools, and then goes into great detail about the philosophies, priorities, and principles that the schools use to create success.

Chapter One is titled: What’s wrong with American Schools?  Most people agree that the American public school system is broken but what people don’t agree on is how to fix it.  The book argues that the main problem is that the bar is set very low for everybody involved:  Students, Teachers, and Parents.  In order to succeed, the bar must be set high and the competition should be fierce. 

Chapter Two talks about how school should be a magical place, somewhere students WANT to be.  How does this happen?  By involving everybody, by staying very busy, learning all kinds of different things every day, being very hands on with projects, lots of field trips, going above and beyond.  It’s the little things, like keeping the facilities clean and welcoming, and it’s the big things, like just assuming all of the children will go to college and teaching with that assumption, and by always making the lessons challenging and interesting.  The parents are required to be involved with their children’s learning, from helping to their homework, to observing classes, to staying in close touch with the teachers and the principals.

Chapter Three tells us that it is all about the adults.  The teachers, the principals, the parents are all important to success.  The schools provide hundreds of hours of training to the teachers every year.  The teachers are also given plenty of time during the school day for planning and lesson preparation.  The better prepared they are to teach the better they will teach. (does this mean the teachers don’t have to take much work home? I presume this would create a much better sense of job satisfaction…)

Chapter Four is about speed.  Rather than teaching slow enough that all the children can get it, and boring half of the students, the academies encourage the teachers to teach as quickly as possible, setting the bar very high and encouraging the students to meet the high standards and learn quickly.  In fact everything at the school happens in a speedy manner.  When the principal observes a teacher, the teacher doesn’t have to wait several weeks for the results but instead he or she learns immediately what they can improve upon. 

Chapter Five goes into more detail about raising the bar and teaching with joyous rigor.  (Side note: So far this has been the biggest point that resonated with me:  I personally love to teach with high standards, both for myself and for my students, and I always learn best when the bar is set high as well.  I love the idea that the students will meet your expectations, so set them VERY high!) The chapter talks about how sometimes if the bar is set too high, the teacher might have to teach something again another day, but that is it better to try it at a very high level first and fail than bore many of the kids and lose that magic.  Most important is that you never talk down to the students.  They are short, not stupid!

Chapter Six is about the importance of reading, and really getting the students to understand what they are reading.  It goes into great detail about how the teachers prepare for class ahead of time so that they can really help the students.  Chapter Seven does the same thing but with writing. 

Chapter Eight sums it all up.  I suppose really one could just read Chapter Eight!

As part of the post, I was asked to think about and answer the following writing prompt:

Stagnation, being unable to accomplish one’s job at a high level, is one of the greatest sources of low teacher morale.  Why do you think this country treats teaching so differently than it does other professions?

The adage "those who can’t, teach" has been a great disservice.  People seem to feel that those teaching children do so because they love children, seen as a weakness, or because they aren’t good at anything else.  After all, how hard could it be to teach something "easy" to children?  Since people think it is easy, they also think teachers shouldn’t be paid much, because it’s easy to teach children, and also, isn’t teaching children a silly job, just a step above babysitting? 

The problem is of course that it is exceedingly difficult to be a great teacher.  Especially when you are fighting against the existing stereotypes in our culture that teaching is both easy and unimportant.  Yet the teachers are the ones being blamed for our children not learning…and everybody is fighting about it rather than working together to make things better.

How many times have we heard the expression, those who can’t, teach?  As a teacher myself, I know this is simply not true.  If I couldn’t do something, how on earth could I teach it?  But conversely, even if I can do something, how do I teach someone else how to do it?  That is one of the things that many teachers have to learn on their own, but in the Success Academies the teachers are taught how to teach better, and this learning continues through their careers.  The teachers are constantly being challenged to do better and are actually given the time and tools to improve.  I believe that this must create very high morale.  They don’t just come out of college or graduate school, start teaching, and then occasionally take a class.  They are constantly being taught new and better ways to teach, and being helped and encouraged along the way.  To me it sounds demanding but exciting, and that’s a great place to be.

Okay, now for the fun. One lucky reader will receive his or her OWN copy of Mission Possible! I can only ship to addresses in the US, so I apologize to any other readers.  If you would like a copy, please comment below.  For an additional entry, please tweet "I want to win a copy of Mission Possible from hannahviolin.me @hannahviolin #readmissionpossible" and leave another comment telling me you did so.  Good luck!  I will randomly choose a winner on Monday, August 6.  (Open to US and Canadian readers only.)


6 thoughts on “Mission Possible (book giveaway!)”

  1. I have too many books to read anyway, so don’t enter me in the giveaway.

    But, man, teachers have a hard job. Because while teachers get to teach the best and the brightest, they also have to teach the rapists and murderers and drug dealers and thieves. And here in L.A., that’s what they get judged on. Teachers get blamed for the high drop out rate. Because those 800 students you teach for less than an hour each day, each one of them dropped out because you did a shitty job. The parents they’ve had for the last 16-18 years had nothing to do with it. Society? Nope. You, the teacher, should get a pay cut because kids are dropping out of school. Maybe paying you less will make you…what? Adopt these kids? Save them all? Instill in them a love for learning, individually, in the brief and frantic moments they have with them?

  2. Nice article, Hannah! I haven’t read this
    book, however I do find this topic
    completely fascinating. I have always
    believed that all things great begin at
    home with good parenting, and
    further continue with additional
    nurturing at school. I had a pretty awful
    public school experience growing up,
    and I can safely agree that, yes, our
    school system is REAL broken.
    On another note, I’m not on twitter…otherwise
    I’d “tweet” as well. 🙂 Thanks for sharing
    this info!

  3. This book sounds so amazing and inspiring. As a teacher I know firsthand how hard it is to deal with the demands placed on us these days by parents, supervisors, government, etc. I would love to add this to my library and put some spark back in my teaching.

  4. As a teacher, I agree with most of what this book seems to be about. One of the things that many teachers are asked to teach things that are out of their area of expertise. It is hard to teach something with rigor and excitement when a teacher is not an expert in the area they are teaching. I believe this is something that needs to change, especially at the elementary level.

    High expectations are key, and I feel that having a yearly goal with smaller goals along the way helps keep everyone focused on achieving that goal. Finally, as a teacher, the one thing I always wish I had was more time to prepare to teach, and not plan athletics, coach, and handle meaningless paperwork.

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