Didactic Read… Recommended… 4 stars
Classroom Under Construction Building the Foundation for Creative Classroom Instruction is a 107 page, 12 chapter hand book for the new teacher, the tired teacher and all those in between. Practical ideas to pep up and boost instruction as well as celebrations for all the good things teachers do are offered on the pages of this work designed to help teachers improve their classroom effectiveness.
Writer Grimes presents his ‘workshop in a book’ with chapter 1 Beliefs and Decision-Making. A teaching philosophy is essential to support and frame underlying teacher practices. Grimes says a teaching philosophy is a personal vision and sense of purpose for teaching.
Chapter 2 What’s in a Name? Names and what teachers do with them is important. Asking a child what name he prefers is a good way to attack the name issue.
Chapter 3 Pouring the Foundation Grimes tells us that the classroom is a happening place, it is busy, bustling and noisy. It is characterized by joy or anxiety, boredom or stimulation, uproar or silence.
Chapter 4 Time Is Your Friend – And Your Foe Grimes discusses a well known truth to all teachers TIME RULES THE SCHOOL, the day, the week and the year.
Chapter 5 The Doctor Is In Grimes points out that never before in our history has so much been expected of teachers, and it is expected that teachers will willingly educated themselves and be under compensated even as they may be berated by non teachers. 1903 George Bernard Shaw set the tone: He who can does, and He who cannot teaches has been quoted often and loudly by many. Grimes also points out Shaw was not a teacher and did not know what a teacher is about.
Chapter 6 Making the Grade Grimes states that grading mechanisms, including rubrics are needed, however they are mechanical tools. Grimes points out that while student attendance may be a requirement of law, his attention is not and that teachers must be able to create meaningful compelling work for students. Grimes suggests that D and F grades be done away with and material re-taught until students achieve A B or C grades.
Chapter 7 This Class Sucks Grimes affirms that when students act out the reason for their behavior may have nothing at all to do with either the class or the teacher. Teacher’s must be perceptive to what is happening with their students, not jump to conclusions, and address problems in a win-win mode rather than blaming and creating problems where had existed before.
Chapter 8 The Dog Won’t Eat My Homework the issue of homework is often fraught with emotion and irritation. Grimes provides a peek into how homework may be incorporated successfully into the learning process and offers a description of how homework impacts students, teachers, and parents.
Chapter 9 Cooperation In Learning And Living Grimes discusses the importance of cooperative learning as a time when children are working in concert with their teachers and one another while providing a degree of civility to the competitive forces that are inherently present in schools.
Chapter 10 You Make The Call Grimes addresses those grey areas when good decisions must be made based on judgment, understanding of school law, and common sense.
Chapter 11 Lest We Forget Grimes offers teaching strategies and activities that will facilitate perpetuating the memories of people and events important to our national history. We stay connected as a culture when we know, share and remember our shared heritage.
Chapter 12 Get A Life Grimes discusses the need for balancing professional and personal aspects of life. He points out that teachers who work in a year round setting tend to have a more positive outlook about themselves, their homes and social lives and their teaching than do teachers who teach in a traditional setting.
Rich Grimes’ Classroom Under Construction speaks to the core of successful teaching practices. Grimes discusses procedures meant to aid teachers as they bond with each student with the understanding that teacher-student bond is predictable as a requirement for student’s academic success. He explains how the teacher’s personal belief system will dictate the teacher’s attitude toward students, toward assigning of homework and toward presenting grades. Grimes presents suggests teachers are like to attain more success with their students by learning the correct pronunciation of the student’s name and using it often when speaking with the student.
I like his idea of homework that goes beyond the student and includes getting parents and other family members involved, energized and motivated because family interest in school and child is a definite contributor to student incentive for learning and doing well. Grimes offers a number of activities that promote student participation.
As a teacher I found Classroom Under Construction to be a valuable tool for beginning or not so beginning teachers. I do have 3 suggestions to make the book more useable: spiral binding will aid in keeping the book open to a particular page, larger print and darker print will be useful for those who may have older eyes. Many new teachers are not 20 somethings, they are part of the over the hill bunch who are looking into a second career. The book has so many valuable suggestions it is a pity it may be cast aside simply because print size and boldness of letters make it more difficult to read.
A must have for every beginning teacher of any age Classroom Under Construction has much to offer those of us old war horses who have been at it for a while. I was sent a trade paperback for review. And will be keeping this edition for my own library, if a spiral bound comes along that will be even better. I will suggest this book for my student teachers as they come to my classroom.
Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.