Is it possible to address the individual learning needs of thirty active multi-age, multi-ethnic elementary students, all at the same time? Dorothy Peters has been doing this for almost twenty years. In this book, she demonstrates how, to twelve student teachers at New York City’s Central Park East School, many of whom themselves began as skeptics. A compilation of year-long journal exchanges between Peters and her student teachers, this unique book immerses readers in the specificities of classroom life on a day-to-day basis—the actual framework in which any teacher must make decisions. Intelligent, perceptive, constructively critical, these student teachers raise questions all educational practitioners face and their discussions cover the spectrum of issues—everything from punishment versus consequence and dealing with "difficult" children to planning and implementing integrated curriculum, fostering inquiry, assessing and tracking students’ growth, and managing hands-on experiential learning. The book also provides lots of practical support: sample room layouts, suggestions for classroom provisioning, a sample record-keeping form, a planning web for integrated curriculum, a sample lesson plan, a chapter on getting started, suggested readings, and lots of photographs illustrating how hands-on learning progresses across the grades.
There is something in this book for everyone. Experienced teachers will extend and deepen their understanding of child-centered practice, discovering additional techniques to add to their repertoire. New teachers will be encouraged to discover how much they already know and that moments of self-doubt and discouragement at the start of a teaching career are universal. Master teachers, mentors, and staff developers will find an effective model for coaching.