Teaching Matters: Stories from Inside City Schools

Teaching Matters: Stories from Inside City Schools

by Beverly Falk, Megan Blumenreich
     
 

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As public schools become increasingly embattled by budget shortfalls, crowded buildings, and ever-more-rigid curricula, the burden of these restrictions has drastically changed the way children are expected to learn. Nowhere is this more obvious or more devastating than classrooms in high-need urban areas. Drawing upon teachers’ firsthand experiences in some

Overview


As public schools become increasingly embattled by budget shortfalls, crowded buildings, and ever-more-rigid curricula, the burden of these restrictions has drastically changed the way children are expected to learn. Nowhere is this more obvious or more devastating than classrooms in high-need urban areas. Drawing upon teachers’ firsthand experiences in some of today’s most demanding schools, leading education experts Beverly Falk and Megan Blumenreich provide an enlightening account of what our students really need—and how teachers are stepping up to provide what state standards and political posturing cannot.

Teaching Matters takes us into a variety of classrooms to witness the art of teaching at its most creative and effective, with a focus on early childhood and elementary school. We follow educators as they strive to change systems that fail to address the needs of their students, from efforts to break the silence about homophobia in schools and multipronged strategies to build stronger relationships with immigrant families to the modification of ineffective curriculum to foster the growth of the “whole child.” By confronting many misconceptions about urban education and school reform, Falk and Blumenreich provide a crucial insider’s look at some of the most challenging and relevant questions in education today.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Like Marcus A. Winters's similarly titled Teachers Matter, this book is about the importance and value of good teachers. Falk (early childhood education, City Coll. of New York; Teaching the Way Children Learn) and Blumenreich (childhood education, Sch. of Education, City Coll. of New York; The Power of Questions) feature the stories of teachers who have succeeded in challenging environments. Each of the 15 chapters is based on a single teacher's study of his or her own classroom or school environment with the aim of better understand an issue he or she was facing and to propose solutions. These studies were done as part of a project that Falk and Blumenreich assign in their teacher-preparation course each year. The chapters are organized into four broad categories that mirror the focus of the teachers' inquiries: culturally responsive teaching, school/family partnerships, differentiated teaching, and constraints of urban teaching. VERDICT This informative look at the process as well as the practical results of action research in the classroom will be of interest to practicing teachers and those pursuing (or thinking about) a career in education.—Sara Holder, McGill Univ. Lib., Montreal, Quebec
Kirkus Reviews
Educators Falk and Blumenreich (The Power of Questions: A Guide to Teacher and Student Research, 2005) present case studies of kindergarten and elementary school classrooms that, although located in economically stressed urban areas, have found creative and intelligent means of making education effective. Few cultural and social arenas have managed to dodge the divisiveness that has overtaken modern political discourse, and education is not one of the exceptions. Standardized testing, long proven to be ineffective at best and incredibly damaging at worst, remains the driving force behind assessing student progress; the distractions of technology and social media continue to spread further into kids' lives; the promise of a decent, reliable job based on academic performance is no longer taken for granted. The difficulty in crafting a solution is that one solution won't suffice. Falk and Blumenreich compile case studies that approach some of the problems from a micro, rather than macro, perspective. Whereas educational policy might suggest that one particular methodology is superior in a majority of situations, these case studies provide a more eclectic set of approaches to dealing with issues. A handful of the case studies, and the conclusions from those studies, overlap each other in content; this ties into the overall thrust of the book. Issues of immigration sensitivity in children just starting school tie into the importance of drawing from the strengths of a multicultural classroom. The authors take the studies further than standard liberal boilerplate issues, however, wading into the animosity of parent-teacher relationships and providing constructive insight into the failings and strengths of both groups. Flying in the face of national standardized testing, three studies explore the strengths of differentiated teaching. As often happens with thoughtful consideration of a problem, the solutions raise more questions, which the authors strive to explore without getting lost down a rabbit hole. A valuable book for urban educators.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781595584908
Publisher:
New Press, The
Publication date:
08/07/2012
Pages:
208
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author


Beverly Falk is the director of the graduate program in early childhood education at the School of Education, The City College of New York. A fellow of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching from 2005 to 2007, she is the author of six books and the editor of the New Educator. She lives in New York. Megan Blumenreich is the director of the childhood education program at the School of Education, The City College of New York. She lives in New Jersey.

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