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Crossing Over to Canaan: The Journey of New Teachers in Diverse Classrooms Hardcover – March 15, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0787950019 ISBN-10: 0787950017 Edition: 1st

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Crossing Over to Canaan: The Journey of New Teachers in Diverse Classrooms + The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (March 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787950017
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787950019
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #314,059 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Today's teacher certification programs make an honest effort to prepare teachers for multicultural classrooms, but Ladson-Billings (The Dreamkeepers) argues that most programs don't do enough to foster "culturally relevant pedagogy." In this ethnographic study, she describes Teach for Diversity (TFD), an experimental graduate program at the University of Wisconsin, which recruited participants whose ethnic backgrounds or experiences had given them a solid commitment to social justice and equality. She follows one group of TFD participants during their practicum at an inner-city school. While the challenges the new teachers overcome, as well as the author's memories of her own initiation into teaching three decades ago, make for compelling reading, most of the book is centered around the structure, development, and underlying philosophy of the program. Though hardly groundbreaking, this study offers practical advice for both new teachers and administrators and would be an excellent choice for supplementary reading in multicultural education programs. Susan M. Colowick, North Olympic Lib. Syst., Port Angeles, WA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"Gloria Ladson-Billings provides a perceptive and interesting account of what is needed to prepare novice teachers to be successful with all students in our multicultural society. This book is must reading for all those entering the profession of teaching today and for those who prepare them for this important work."(Ken Zeichner, associate dean and professor of curriculum and instruction, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison)

"The multiple voices in Gloria Ladson-Billings's book are compelling, provocative, and insightful-they provide a powerful 'insider' perspective on what it really means to learn to teach all children well." (Marilyn Cochran-Smith, professor of education and editor, Journal of Teacher Education, Boston College, School of Education)

"Ladson-Billings, one of the stellar researchers and most passionate advocates for social justice, has written yet another masterpiece. By weaving the novice teachers' voices, her personal teaching journey, and language rich in compelling research and inspiring metaphors, Ladson-Billings has documented how new teachers transform schools and teach poor children of color." (Jacquline Jordan Irvine, Candler Professor of Urban Education, Emory University, Division of Educational Studies)

"Masterful teacher and teacher-educator Gloria Ladson-Billings has given us--in highly readable form--a brilliant vision of what teacher education might become. In Crossing over to Canaan we get a glimpse of how a carefully constructed teacher education program focused on teaching for social justice can produce excellent teaching, even by young, middle-class teachers-in-training, in diverse educational settings." (Lisa D. Delpit, Benjamin E. Mays Professor of Educational Leadership, Georgia State University)

"...This study offers practical advice for both new teachers and adminstrators and would be an excellent choice for supplementary reading in multicultural education programs." (Library Journal)

More About the Author

Gloria Ladson-Billings is a professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She worked for a decade as a teacher and administrator in the Philadelphia Public Schools. She is the author of The Dreamkeepers (Jossey-Bass, 1997).

Customer Reviews

This is about the only useful component of the book.
Crossing Over to Canaan is an excellent book for anyone planning to be or thinking about becoming a teacher.
Andrea Mitchell
Culture is a complex subject that can't be taught but learned through education and experience.
Stephanie G.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jill Jones on March 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I was drawn to this book by Gloria Ladson-Billings in hopes of finding out about new and better ways to reach a growing diverse population of students in my classroom. In this book, the author explains the shortcomings of current teacher education programs and their inability to prepare teachers to reach all types of students. I strongly agree with her viewpoint and, therefore, was intrigued by her creation of a new teacher education program entitled Teach for Diversity. This is a graduate level program based on her study to find out how to best help teachers reach more diverse types of students. Throughout the book, Ladson-Billings gives narrative accounts about the eight participants in the teacher education program and how they learn to be aware of different students' cultures, focus on academics in the classroom, and be aware of the influence of the outside world on their students. Her accounts of the participants are very easy to read and seem magical in that everything connects for these participants when they step into the classroom.

I found that the original reason I wanted to read the book was not truly addressed. I learned some good lessons about ideas to keep in mind when teaching students from various cultures, but I found that the experiences she describes in the book are not very relevant to what I see and what I am required to teach in my classroom. I was looking for more concrete ways to help diverse students and did not find a lot of specific answers. If that is what you are hoping to gain from this book too, then this may not be the book you want to read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I was disappointed after finishing Crossing Over to Canaan.
Some parts of the book were helpful such as: * Describing how the old beliefs of teaching effect the demands on (new) teachers * Theories of pedagogy * Reflective Practice * more.
For the most part, however, I was quite bored and have read more helpful books than this. The book is coated in quotes taken from the different grad students journals about their experiences with Teach for Diversity. Very few - if any - strategies are shared about teaching in a diverse classroom. I was expecting something different than what it was. Please browse through the book before purchasing to see if it's what you're looking for!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. Clough on October 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Ladson-Billings makes an attempt to inform the reader of diversity within the school setting but is most often promoting her own program, Teach for Diversity or TFD, throughout the book. I chose this book because of its great title, hoping to increase my knowledge about different cultures and how I could apply these lessons in my classroom to meet the needs of diverse learners. The book starts out with its first chapter "Can Anybody Teach These Children?" which I enjoyed reading. This chapter poses the rhetorical question: Can all children learn? I really wanted to dive in to this chapter coming away with ideas on how to best teach challenging, below grade level students and help them improve their self-efficacy. Ladson-Billings explains the increasing need for educators in inner-city schools, where beginning teachers often take on these challenging positions. These new teachers have the least experience and training to deal with such high needs classes. I could easily relate to this section in the book because when I graduated from college I was in fact one of these first year teachers thrown into a demanding position at an inner-city elementary school.

The book then focuses on the emergence of the TFD program and the eight students who practice this curriculum throughout their placements in the elementary school setting. The author's case studies are interesting, therefore any classroom teacher could relate to the struggles and triumphs touched upon in these stories. After learning about the eight students this program follows, the book then looks at the schools primary tasks within the community and how to focus on diverse students who have become academically challenged.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie G. on September 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Unfortunately, the only parts of this book that I enjoyed and found thought-provoking were the preface, introduction, and chapter one. This book discusses weaknesses in the current way that teachers are educated and describes one program, Teach for Diversity (TFD),that the author created to address those weaknesses. In the last chapter, the author writes that the program was abandoned after a few years.

TFD was created based on three propositions: academic achievement, cultural competence, and sociopolitical consciousness. After a chapter introducing the teachers from the cohort, the following chapters examine each of those propositions.

Regarding academic achievement, Ladson-Billings offers a variety of hypotheses to explain why some students of color reject academic achievement in school. She continues to define academic achievement in terms of what a teacher does in the classroom. She also offers what she feels is necessary in a classroom for academic achievement to be evident (academic achievement indicators). Her definitions of academic achievement and the indicators are not based on research, subjective, and at best, basic knowledge to someone who has ever taught.

Regarding cultural competence, Ladson-Billings wrote that "cultural competence refers to the ability of students to grow in understanding and respect of their own cultures." She encourages teachers, who she writes are primarily white, to live in the culture of the children they are teaching for an extended length of time, to get to know the families as an insider would. This sounds great on paper but does not seem realistic as an expectation of teachers.
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