In May of this year I ran a two-day workshop for the social studies department at New York City’s High School for International Business and Finance. We focused on rigor and relevance and explored a variety of strategies that enable the student to “do the work of the historian.” More
The feature dealt with the struggles and accomplishments of two recent graduates.
"By the time Cristal and Queen were freshmen, their math and reading skills were well below grade level, and school administrators considered them 'at risk': at risk of failing and dropping out. The high school, with graduation rates higher than the citywide average, turned out to be a place where they discovered talents and aspirations they never knew they had. 'They turned on the switch,' Cristal said. 'It’s like my brain opened up.' ”
Cristal reminds us of the importance of the “three R’s” – rigor, relevance and relationships. Students need a rigorous program with challenging goals and effective feedback. A focus on relevance helps students to better understand themselves as learners and measure progress towards their goals. But most critical, are supportive relationships with educators who can provide the scaffolding that students need to take responsibility for their learning.
I’m grateful to have had the chance to meet the teachers, administrators and support staff that make the New York City’s High School for International Business and Finance an effective small learning community. Read the NY Times article and view the audio slide show “The Kinship of Cristal and Queen.”. … See for yourself.