4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Connect for Classroom Success: A Mentoring Guide for Teachers K-12, written by R. Janet Walraven, is a thoughtful and thorough handbook designed to help teachers successfully tackle their daily tasks and challenges. Walraven, a teacher with thirty-five years of experience in both public and private schools, believes that “education is not what it used to be, academically or otherwise. Our nation’s schools are in trouble.” In this book, she gives a valuable contribution to the amelioration of this state of affairs.
For starters, I liked the author’s use of language very much. Besides being qualified and experienced, she is also passionate about the subject. I appreciated her candid, straightforward, and often witty mode of expression. The chapters are well-structured and have creative titles. The author closes each chapter with an inspiring quote; at the end of the book, there is a glossary that is creatively titled “Odds and Ends.”
The book’s greatest strength, in my opinion, is its pragmatic and hands-on approach. Walraven doesn’t spend much time discussing abstract concepts or theories. She delves right into concrete and practical examples, dialogues, and real-world situations. I enjoyed the many scenarios she presented. Most of them entail dialogues in which a teacher (Ms. J) interacts with students or parents. The author also provides useful models of contracts and logs to be used by teachers. Plenty of related topics get addressed – Walraven explores and exemplifies ways to effectively deal with students, parents, administrators, and custodians. I was particularly touched by how Ms. J connected with Jonah, a Native American student, in “Connect to Success: Be Patient and Persevere.”
Above all, I admired and agreed with the author’s reasoning and recommendations. For instance, she argues that when students fail, act out, or retreat, they are probably not excellent readers. Therefore, she strongly recommends a method called Read Right – “a research-based program that provides an environment that compels the brain to learn to read excellently.” Walraven is a disciple of William Glasser, the teacher-philosopher who maintains that students want to do quality work but fear to fail. I enjoyed how she shared her experience with the Glasser method.
In closing, I gladly rate Connect for Classroom Success 4 out of 4 stars. The book seems professionally edited; I only found a few minor mishaps. There is nothing I disliked about it. Kudos to the author for coming across as a highly competent professional with the best intentions – the kind of person that makes a great mentor. The book will surely appeal to readers interested in education. Although it is primarily for teachers, I believe it is also a good read for policymakers, administrators, and parents.
Connect for Classroom Success
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon