This book is about the energy, substance, hope, and determination that excellent teachers bring to the rhythm of classrooms every day, year in and year out. Balli offers experiences and important lessons about teaching and classroom life at all grade levels, illuminating the perspective of both teachers and students. Knitting teacher and student voices together, this book inspires practicing teachers and those who are learning to teach, with universal insights drawn from elementary school, middle school, high school, and college. Making a Difference in the Classroom is organized into three parts, focusing first on teacher-student relationships, then on how excellent teachers finesse the substance and action of classrooms, and finally on the inestimable worth of teachers as diverse individuals with unique talents to offer as gifts for students to unwrap and experience day after day.
Balli is one of the most analytic and clear communicators about what it takes to become an extraordinary teacher. I think that she has nailed it.
This book effectively reminds educators that their choice to nurture positive connections with students lies at the heart of good teaching. Student learning and success can be traced in large measure to how teachers foster classroom life and relationships.
In a fresh approach to understanding the essential qualities of effective teachers, Balli challenges readers to evaluate their own approaches to classroom instruction, to reexamine the significance of teacher-student relationships, and to use their particular gifts as educators. Her candid retelling of real life classroom experiences makes this book easy to read and invites teachers to renew their commitment to making a difference in their own classrooms.
This book is awesome and it rejuvenates education. It is useful for administrators because it offers insight on what great teachers do, and administrators can find ways to assist teachers at their site. It gives a foundation for what teaching is all about—relationships. It offers a sense of purpose, a motivation to continue to inspire, and a determination to make change. It brings to the forefront why I go to work every day.
I think about the blur of those early years in my teaching life, a time of complete overload. I was happy just to be standing at the end of the day. It would have been nice to have had a simple, easy to remember set of teacher standards of excellence that I could grasp at any time during the day to check my performance. This book has the potential to offer that valuable tool.
Anyone who reads this book will think about teachers they have had and experiences from their many days in classrooms. Any teachers who carefully read the quotes and author extensions will get answers about good teaching and how to do it. The book includes some very important topics for teachers to consider and ponder: earning respect, making learning active rather than passive, providing an environment that is comfortable and feels like 'another home,' and how precious and long-lasting time spent together between teachers and students can be. Prospective teachers will especially benefit by searching for jewels in this book like the importance of 'taking students seriously' and a classroom where 'It is fun here. Just look around.'
Sandra J. Balli is associate professor of education at La Sierra University where she teaches courses in middle school methods, advanced instructional models, and qualitative research. She earned a PhD in curriculum and instruction at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Chapter 1 Foreword Chapter 2 Introduction Part 3 Building Relationships Chapter 4 Respect Chapter 5 The Gift of Time Chapter 6 Encouragement Chapter 7 Teacher-Student Friendships Part 8 Building a Learning Community Chapter 9 Classroom Ambience Chapter 10 Classroom Management Chapter 11 Learning Activities Chapter 12 High Expectations Chapter 13 Assessment Part 14 Building Authenticity Chapter 15 Teaching Styles Chapter 16 Teacher and Student Gender Chapter 17 Not Like Some Teachers Chapter 18 The Essence of Excellence