Merits of Demerits 4: Ben from Philly

Ben is leader of KIPP Philadelphia Elementary Academy. He writes:

People often asked this question (do KIPP middle school methods work with Grade K kids) with an understandable amount of skepticism. As I told them, it wouldn’t. We were going to build strong student culture in a way that made sense for our age students, while also reflecting the big ideas that have been the foundation of KIPP’s success for almost 20 years.

He describes various methods, including:

Each classroom uses the same behavior system that is a variation on a clothespin or color system common in almost every early elementary classroom. We emphasize the concept of “turning it around” and students can move their name back as soon as they make good choices, whether that is in five minutes or five hours.

In another blog, Ben emphasizes joy.

As our KPEA student culture vision says:

Students are having fun. They smile and laugh as a regular part of any lesson.

Teachers are having fun. They smile and laugh as a regular part of any lesson.

When you walk into a classroom at KPEA, it feels calm, comfortable, and happy. You want to pull up a chair and make yourself at home.

So joy is important. People should be happy. Got it. Point made, right? Well, not totally, because I’m going to argue too often in education we talk about joy as a means and not as an end in itself.

Read more at Ben's blog here (culture) and here (joy).