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Chancellor's First Initiative Suggests Different Approach to Deal With Struggling Schools

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On Monday, Carmen Fariña announced the launch of her first big initiative as schools chancellor, and it suggests a very different approach to dealing with struggling schools. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

A so-called flipped classroom is a new type of teaching that has students watch videotaped lessons for homework and then spend class time doing hands-on problem-solving work.

This is also about to be a model classroom in a model school.

"We have a lot of good ideas, so I'm happy to share that," said Lynn Shon, a teacher at M.S. 88. "I think education should be totally democratic. Everything should be shared."

Chancellor Carmen Fariña agrees. On Monday, she launched a pilot program that pairs 14 struggling schools with seven model schools.

Educators will meet weekly, visiting classrooms and sharing ideas. In September, the partnership initiative will expand to include 72 schools.

"It's one thing to read a book about how you should be doing things or to read a memo from the DOE. It's quite another thing to go into a classroom and actually see it working," Fariña said.

The program signals a departure from the previous administration, which focused on holding schools accountable. The chancellor and her allies weren't shy about pointing out the contrast.

"We want this to be a city of collaboration, not competition," Fariña said.

Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, teachers and principals could earn cash bonuses if they improved test scores, schools were given annual letter grades, and the lowest-performing schools were shut down.

"If you start highlighting what's not working, which sometimes in our history has happened, you're only going to demoralize people," Fariña said.

"Don't be looking for As and Bs and all of that craziness. Forget that," said Ernest Logan, president of the principals' union.

How, though, will the city measure whether this new initiative is even working? The chancellor admitted they haven't figured that out yet.

Meanwhile, she hopes both the struggling schools and model schools can learn from one another. The teacher in the so-called flipped classroom agrees.

"I don't consider myself an expert in this at all," Shon said. "This is my first year experimenting with it, but I'm more than happy to share what I've learned from my process. So I think that's the idea. It's like, I'm not, I'm still learning, too."

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