At VOICE Charter School, we empower our teachers to truly teach. At many schools, mandatory paced-by-the-hour lesson plans force teachers to abandon important topics, even if students never "got" what was being taught. At VOICE Charter School, a flexible workshop approach to curriculum allows our educators to spend more time in the places where students need attention and to move more quickly past what they easily understand.
While there is a certain level of autonomy, VOICE Charter School teachers by no means "go it alone." Teamwork and cooperation are not concepts we simply preach at the children, they are concepts we put into practice everyday. Every person on campus is a member of a Professional Learning Community, where a collegial atmosphere and the free exchange of ideas are encouraged. All teachers are in constant contact with one another and with school administrators and VOICE Charter School volunteers.
VOICE Charter School will be expanding over the next several years and is looking to add high-powered, motivated educators to its faculity.
learn the way we
we should teach the
way they learn."
An Interview with Mr. Larry Berman and Ms. Jennifer Murray VOICE Music 1st Grade Teachers
One thing that come us a lot here is this idea of a Professional Learning Community and working as a team. What does that mean?
Ms. Murray: Larry and I work very closely together. We're talking everyday. We're teaching the same lesson, so we talk about what we'll be teaching everyday. Afterwards, we talk about what worked and what didn't and what our kids did and didn't "get." If we had similar experiences, we can devise new, better ways to teach.
Mr. Berman: And the school is small enough that the feedback can be immediate. What I'm about to teach, Jennifer just taught or is just about to teach. Our doors are always open so we can give each other heads up and say, "try it this way. This works better." Or, "don't try it this way. It's too confusing."
Ms. Murray: Not only can we give heads up to each other, we can give it to other grade levels. First grade can help Kindergarten as well. If we have any resources we can share, we share them. Other than the topics themselves–the curriculums are the same, so Kindergarten might do a similar unit a week before us or after us.
VOICE is a new school and a charter school. Is it different working here compared other schools?
Ms. Murray: You feel a sense of autonomy in that you're building something new.
Mr. Berman: Since this is the first year this school is open, there's a lot of extra legwork, but the idea is we have a sense of ownership over what we are creating.
VOICE is also a school with a heavy focus on music and singing. How does what you do interact with that?
Mr. Berman: I have no musical background whatsoever, so I don't directly add to what Ms. Ley is doing. But, for instance, last week we did a unit on Mexico and at the same time the students were learning about the music of Mexico, so there was a crossing over. And I find myself always singing and humming now...
Ms. Murray: Me too, not that I'm very good...
Mr. Berman: And that's part of all of this. The kids see me learning as they're learning and they say, "hey, Mr. Berman is trying to learn this, too."
Ms. Murray: That really sends a positive message to the kids that we're all still trying and learning–everyday.