We all care about improving public education, but how do we find out what’s really happening in classrooms and schools? Veteran teacher David B. Cohen spent a year spent visiting public schools throughout California, discovering how students flourish when teachers capture the sparks of curiosity and inspiration. The result is Capturing the Spark: Inspired Teaching, Thriving Schools.
From finger-painting to A.P. Physics experiments, Cohen takes readers into classrooms for students of all ages and in a wide variety of subjects, at schools enrolling dozens or thousands of students, in traditional or alternative programs. Take a look inside more than 60 schools. How are teachers blending traditional and innovative practices? How does quality teacher training make a difference over a teacher's career? What makes Teachers of the Year unique? What are unions doing to improve education? What does it mean for a teacher to achieve National Board Certification? What can we learn from teachers who create and lead new schools?
A veteran teacher with experience in leadership roles in statewide organizations, Cohen came up with the idea for Capturing the Spark after he encountered a troubling dissonance regarding public education. He continually met teachers whose creativity and dedication were making a positive difference in their own schools and in the broader field. Yet, in the media, in politics, and even in casual conversations, he kept encountering fear and anxiety about the deterioration of public schools in California. Determined to offer a broader and more optimistic view, Cohen took a leave of absence from his own teaching in order to visit, observe, and write about great teachers and schools. With funding from a successful Kickstarter campaign, he was able to visit campuses all over the state, from the redwood forests near the northern border to the desert towns of the south, from the major cities on the coast to the foothills of the Sierras.
While focusing on positive stories in public education, Cohen recognizes the many challenges facing public education. Capturing the Spark draws upon hundreds of hours of observations, decades of personal experience, and a body of education policy research to offer recommendations for how California can protect what's working and make smart decisions about what to add and change in the future.
The print edition of Capturing the Spark features fifteen black and white photographs of teachers profiled in the book, while the electronic edition includes dozens of additional color photographs of teachers, students, and schools.
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Table of ContentsForeword, by Barnett Berry
PART ONE: Capturing an Overview
Chapter 1: Introduction: Inspired Teachers, Thriving Schools
Chapter 2: Elementary Schools: The Real Wonder Years
Chapter 3: Middle Schools: A Brief, Wild Ride
Chapter 4: High Schools: Launching the Future
PART TWO: The Sparks
Chapter 5: STEP into Teaching: Balancing Theory, Practice, and Reflection
Chapter 6: Teachers of the Year: Vision, Voice, and Opportunity
Chapter 7: National Board Certified Teachers: Building Professional Status
Chapter 8: Teacher-Powered Schools: Putting Educators in Charge
Chapter 9: Unions and Education: Working Together to Improve Teaching and Learning
Chapter 10: Teacher Leaders, Beyond the Classroom: Instructional Expertise Matters
Chapter 11: Teacher Leaders, Beyond the School: The Intersection of Policy and Practice
Chapter 12: Supporting the Whole Child: Hearts and Minds Connected for Better Learning
Chapter 13: Connectivity and Networking: Expanding Horizons for Teachers and Classrooms
Chapter 14: Teacher Authors: Practicing What They Publish
Epilogue: Building on Strengths-How California Can Improve Public Education
Appendix 1: Guide to Teachers Online and in Print
Appendix 2: Recommended Viewing and Reading