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Connect for Classroom Success: A Mentoring Guide for Teachers K-12 Paperback – June 5, 2019
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My how I wish I could have had this book to mentor me when I began teaching! The format is exceptional--conversational scenarios between teacher and student; quotes of wisdom from experts. "The education profession is a high calling and the decision to be an educator should be based on a passion for helping young people prepare for a bright future." Truer words were never written!--Janice Sexson, Teacher and Administrator
A bright light is shining through the fog of America's public education woes. R. Janet Walraven's mentoring guide, Connect for Classrooom Success, will make you laugh, weep, and cheer. Whether you are a teacher, administrator, or parent, there is a story here that will speak to you. Drawing on her 35 years of experience in America's classrooms, she serves up engaging, sympathetic, real-life scenarios and offers hope and answers to dilemmas that seem beyond solution. --Ramona Sue Evans, College English Teacher.
About the Author
- Publisher : Independently published (June 5, 2019)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 204 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1096103184
- ISBN-13 : 978-1096103189
- Item Weight : 9.9 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.46 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,728,158 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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Her book is full of practical advice on how to manage one's energy, how to prioritize what's most important, and how to provide support for yourself, so that you feel inspired and sustained by your work. She understands the toll that teaching can take and the emotional rigor of working with children who each have their own unique story, gifts and struggle.
New teachers will be coming into this work with knowledge of brain development, learning theory, and trauma that will contribute to creating more respectful, creative and effective learning environments. What Janet offers is the genuine experience of a seasoned teacher who through her own lived experience in the profession has garnered deep mastery culminating in an unwavering stamina and true love of children and the art of teaching. I encourage you to read the vignettes with a sense for the story, for the way in which Janet maintains buoyancy and conceptualizes the needs of her students.
We know from neuroscience, that we are born to connect. We are always seeking connection, even when our behavior might lead us to believe otherwise. Janet's method is grounded in cultivating connection with her community, emotional attunement, and an unerring and tenacious belief in the individual gift of each child as a human being who possesses a unique potential that is pure. What I recognize in her stories and what I experienced and witnessed first hand was Janet did not allow the challenging behavior of children to interfere with her perception of each child as inherently unique with a particular gift. I experienced her believing in me and also teaching me to see the deep humanity in other children. She taught me to see that all children yearn to be accepted, to belong, and to contribute.
Some of her stories may strike the reader as a slight exaggeration to make a point, but I can assure you that this is not the case. Her stories are extraordinary in part because she could see and cultivate the extraordinary in children. Her stories are based in her genuine experience and they are a treasure for any new teacher who wants to know how to harness their own creative energy in service to the learning, individuation, and inherent genius of the children they serve.
Robbyn Peters Bennett
By R. Janet Walraven
Being a teacher is a full-time job and then some, but if you can find a way to make your classroom work for you, things can go smoother.
R. Janet Walraven has spent her adult life teaching in grades K-12 in both public and private schools across the country. She has combined her years of experience to help teachers and parents learn tactics and techniques to help them both in and out of the classroom.
I enjoyed this book. Though I am not a teacher, I am homeschooling my children this year. I don’t read a lot of self-help books. I don’t know why. This one struck an interest in me, I believe, because I am teaching my kids but also because I used to want to be an educator.
This book covers everything from dealing with difficult parents and unexpected allergies to uncooperative administration and working with volunteers.
I will admit, I’m not 100 percent behind everything that she says, but for the most part, I agree and appreciate her perspective. I do feel that a lot of this book is not helpful for a homeschooling mother, such as dealing with difficult parents or making friends with the janitor, because I am both the parent and the janitor. However, I found a lot of suggestions for working with the students.
I feel that this book would be very helpful for teachers and that, in a rather limiting way, it would also be helpful to parents and homeschooling families. I gave this book four out of five stars.
I received my copy of this book from the author for the sole purpose of providing an honest review.
Top reviews from other countries
Connect for Classroom Success provides exactly what it says on the tin. A connection to students of all ages, temperaments and personalities, no matter how difficult the path might feel. Not only that, it gives guidance for non-teaching staff, plus (if the reviews are anything to go by) parents, who may seem overwhelmed about how to address their own child's behaviour for praise or correction. I was never a teacher, but I did work in a teaching environment (international students), and did have a little experience of teaching, both as a student of teaching and as a personal tutor (one term was enough!). I also had experience of how great (and how bad) the administrative process could be, and so some of what was in this book rung very true even for me.
The author isn't shy about sharing personal tales from her life either, and how it had an effect on how she viewed school, teaching, and students across her life and career. She shows how not coming from a conventional background or having had bad experiences is no excuse for holding yourself back. Plus, she shows how early understanding of how to deal with situations where students may 'feel' othered by their peers because of their background (whether true or not), and how (or at least try) to effectively dissolve them before they burst.
"Statistically, a new teacher will spend five or less years in the classroom before giving it up." Not very positive stats... But! This text is packed full of first-hand experience of myriad situations that offers an extensive handbook for teachers who may feel lost, overwhelmed or alone in the their pursuits. For me, the below points are the points (in no particular order) which resonated the most.
The interaction between teacher and parent is advised to be essential, even if you only contact them once to praise their child. It may be the difference between a parent taking interest in their child's education or ignoring everything that goes on in school time. Lack of contact could lead to student behaviour becoming a powder keg. The advice given by the author is basically to nip that in the bud. Start off on the right foot, and you may save yourself a great deal of time and trouble later on. But it's not all about corrective behaviour, it's also about sharing good news with the parents, and showing them you are actually a good role model and mentor who is concerned and supportive about the young people in your charge.
Yes, the author is right. School should bring joy, and some of that should be away from school. But if I had had any experiences in school like I did with my 5th year teacher, I might have enjoyed school more. If I told you once my secondary school class was taken to London (some seventy miles away) to see the new excellent Shakespeare's Globe not long after it was built, but we didn't see a play, would you think that was worthwhile? Like many British schoolchildren forced to learn Shakespeare's work in English and not Drama, I grew up disliking it thoroughly. Anyone else get forced to watch that horrid animated version of The Tempest over and over again? I couldn't stand it. And then, when I was 23, I saw that same play at the RSC in Stratford, with Patrick Stewart no less. Later on, at Shakespeare's Globe itself (my favourite version) in the pit as a groundling. It happens to be one of my favourite plays now. I wonder what it might have been like if I'd seen that play there...
The author reveals a fabulous story of getting her unruly class of older students to come into their own by arranging a trip on a sailing ship. Suffice to say, the rude young man who was escorted from the classroom that first day, later returned to her the next year to apologise for his behaviour.
A trip on a sailing ship the author wangled would probably give current (obtrusive and restrictive) UK health and safety regulations a proper heart attack, but where there is a will, there's a way. It doesn't just go for school. Children should be outdoors, especially as being cooped up all day is showing in some research to be bad for children's (and anyone's) eyesight, and may very well be the cause of myopia. A good thing to note if you don't want to be spending what could be thousands of pounds (or dollars) for specs in the future. Take it from someone whose eyes were ruined. I think it goes equally for younger and older children. The same with mental education: excursions should become more sophisticated as the child grows, and essential.
I cannot fathom how difficult modern life must be if you cannot read, or read well. I think the advent of audiobooks was a turning point for those who had trouble reading, for the blind/sight impaired and for any other disability affecting reading. But immediately taking in information is something I think most of us take for granted. I found picking up words easy, and have loved books my whole life, and therefore there was nothing in the way of me getting a lifelong interest in learning, and learning anything. My problem is attention span - finishing things I've started, because I like to start a lot of things at once, and some are more interesting than others. The author offers help for those teachers (or parents) who are finding their children are having difficulty reading, in a scheme called Read Right. Reading (and writing for that matter) has been taught the same for a very long time, leaving many students who have difficulty in natural comprehension under these styles behind. I think working in international education made this resonate acutely. Seeing the unbelievable pressure facing students learning pre-university/university courses with English as a second language (while taking a course to improve their English alongside the course in English...) was difficult enough, but not being able to read well at all... The progression rates are sky-high for this it seems, and changes in students' abilities and confidence can be seen in a matter of weeks. Weeks! Incredible stuff.
My final thoughts are regarding integrity. As with the author, my favourite word. If you're in education and you're expecting your students to learn respect, for you and each other, then you'd better have bags of it. Intellectual integrity and behavioural - making sure you don't go back on your word, or your expectations, standing your ground, sticking by your beliefs, and accepting change where it's needed. Disagreement is key to evolution of thought, and it might differ, but students might actually know something better than you.
There is so much in this book you'll find yourself nodding along to, cheering on, and being just plain in awe of (whose teacher ever wrote them a rap to perform at school, or spent the whole night helping them re-create a destroyed presentation to silently teach some other students a firm lesson?). It's trans-continental in my opinion. I truly believe there's something for anyone who crosses paths with or is responsible for children and young people - their own or someone' else's. The author highlights her wish when she was newer to teaching, how she'd wished she had a guidebook or manual for teaching to help her along the way. Maybe you'll be writing the next one, and the author will be in your acknowledgements.