Listening to Urban Kids: School Reform and the Teachers They Want

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Independent researchers interview urban middle school students to get their impressions of the teachers that help them to succeed in schools.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This book provides a cogent argument for including urban students in the dialogue on urban school reform. The students, because of their insider status, offer clear, specific views concerning those conditions that foster and hinder their learning. The students’ suggestions warrant serious attention by those who are genuinely concerned about improving the quality of education in urban schools.” — Grace Cureton Stanford, The Pennsylvania State University
Built on the premise that the best means for evaluating the success of school reform is talking to students, the authors (both independent educational researchers) interviewed inner-city kids, asking them their opinions on their schools and teachers. Their studies reveal that urban middle school students want their teachers to push students to complete their work, maintain orderly classrooms, and make their work relevant and meaningful, all of which increases the students' sense of belonging at school and, thereby, their commitment to coming to and working at school. Sections cover classroom environments, teachers and students and reform. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780791448403
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2001
  • Series: Series in Restructuring and School Change
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.97 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Bruce L. Wilson and H. Dickson Corbett are both independent educational researchers and coauthors of Testing, Reform, and Rebellion. Wilson is coauthor of Mandating Academic Excellence: High School Responses to State Curriculum Reform, with Gretchen B. Rossman and Successful Secondary Schools: Visions of Excellence in American Public Education, with Thomas B. Corcoran; and Corbett is coauthor of School Context and School Change: Implications for Effective Planning, with Judith A. Dawson and William A Firestone and Change and Effectiveness in Schools: A Cultural Perspective, with Gretchen B. Rossman and William A. Firestone, also published by SUNY Press.

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Table of Contents



The Reform Context
Students as Useful Windows through Which to View Reform
Overview of the Study and Its Participants
The Student Sample and Interview Strategy
The School Sites
Other Considerations in Reading This Book



Changes in Plans for the Future
Changes in the Schools
More and/or Harder Work
Different Student Behavior
Small Learning Communities
Changes in Classroom Experiences
Multiple or Long-term Replacement Teachers
Disruptive Classrooms
“Support Scarce” Classrooms
A Need to Scale Up within Schools



Pedagogical Differences—The Case of Science
Content Differences—The Case of English
Classroom Environment Differences—Two Examples
School #1: Two Teachers on the Same Team
School #4: A Comparison between Students’ Initial Teacher and a Replacement
Students Focused on Instructional, Rather Than Personal, Style



Three Teachers Students Praised
Qualities Students Wanted Their Teachers to Have
Valued Teachers Pushed Students to Complete Their Assignments
Valued Teachers Maintained Order in the Classroom
Valued Teachers Were Willing to Help
Valued Teachers Went to Great Lengths to Explain a Topic Until
Everyone Understood It
Valued Teachers Varied Classroom Activities
Valued Teachers Respected Students, Related to Them, and Tried to
Understand Their Worlds
Behind the Actions: The Student–Teacher Relationship



A Brief Description of School #6
Students’ Aspirations and Teachers’Preferences
Pedagogical Differences—The Case of Science
Content Differences—The Case of Writing and English
A Note on Mathematics
Classroom Environment Differences
Evidence of School Effects
Students’ Perspectives on School #6
Student Performance Data
Student Comparisons of School #6 with the Other Study Schools
Student Talk and School Differences



Making Reform Noticeable
Focus Professional Development on Adults’ Underlying Beliefs about a School’s Role in Supporting Student Learning Rather Than
Discrete “Best Practices”
Emphasize the Quality of the Relationships between Teachers and Students
Changes in Student Performance Standards Must be Accompanied by the
Creation of Standards for Pedagogy, Content, and Classroom Environment—
and the Professional Development Necessary to
Implement Them
Connect Changes in Standards to Grades, Not Just to Performance on
Large-scale Assessments
Create “Extra Help” Situations That Encompass All Students Who Need It, Not
Just Those Students Who Avail Themselves of It
Extend Extra Help Beyond School Work to How to Succeed in the Future
Reforming with, Not for, Students


Appendix: Student Interview Protocols

Author Index

Subject Index

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