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Exemplary Teachers of

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on 12 December 2013

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Transcript of Exemplary Teachers of

Introducing the Book
Exemplary Teachers of Student in Poverty was written and edited by Munns, Sawyer and Cole (2013). The book depicts prevalent strategies used by thirty Australian teachers to combat the educational equity gap that exists within most low socioeconomic status (SES) schools. The authors utilized data from supplementary research projects to support their findings from their research project; Teachers for a Fair Go. The book also provides detailed examples of the pedagogies and practices used by teacher participants to engage students in the learning process, both inside and outside of the classroom.
The research project Teachers for a Fair Go follows thirty exemplary teachers, from pre-school to grade 12, to explore their successful practice in teaching students of low socioeconomic status (SES). The study was developed due to the educational equity gap that is present within most low SES schools. Teacher participants were selected from Australian schools, which were shown to make the most difference in students’ literacy and numeracy scores. From these identified schools select teachers were nominated by principals, professional consultants, local educational consultants, as well as self-nomination. After being selected, teachers participated in a case study that consisted of a weeklong observation within their classrooms. Following the case study observations, teachers and researchers would examine and explore the data collected. Once the data was collected from all 30 teacher participant the data was cross case analyzed to develop the content written within Munns, Sawyer and Cole (2013) book.
Image by Tom Mooring
Main Ideas in Relation to the course
4. Alternatives to punishment
Munns, Sawyer, and Cole (2013) as well as Febar and Mazlish (1995) advocate for behaviour management techniques that encompass alternatives to punishment. Munns, Sawyer, and Cole (2013) found that students benefited from low emotional responses that allowed them to develop an alternative to their undesired behaviours. This notion is also supported by Faber and Mazlish (1995) who state that punishment cannot control or change undesired behaviours.
The book’s credibility lies within its connection to Teachers for a Fair Go research findings. This process is described on page 91 by Munns, Sawyer, and Cole (2013), who indicate that the book iterative process was derived from research findings. An additional strength of the book is the authors’ ability to couple the findings from the Teachers for a Fair Go research project with supplementary research. A specific example of this technique is evident on page 39, where the authors utilize research by Vinson (as cited in Munns, Sawyer, and Mays 2013) to support the notion that poverty has significant implication on students academic success.

Another useful component within the book is the classroom strategy provided by the authors. For example, on page 154 the authors provide a detailed explanation about the importance of employing strategic decision making when assigning students to small and large groups. The authors also illustrate the methods used to implement specific approaches. For example, in chapter 8 the authors describe how a teacher, Sonia, achieves an inclusive classroom by providing students with the opportunity to reflect on disruptive behaviours.

Furthermore, the book utilizes student narratives to support their findings. Utilizing student narratives provides the reader with testimonies which further substantiate the authors’ claims. One of the unique components of the book is the interconnectedness between each chapter. The authors regularly cited content from prior chapters in order to elaborate on the current topics being discussed. When describing benefits of culturally sensitive teaching on page 74, the author cites chapters 9 and 12 where the topics are discussed in greater detail. Additionally, the book provides the reader with detailed conclusions, which are presented at the end of each chapter. The chapter conclusions are used to summarize the main ideas illustrated within each chapter and refreshes the reader on the topics that were already discussed.
Insider Classroom
Introducing the Study
Exemplary Teachers of
Students In Poverty
Edited by Geoff Munns, Wayne Sawyer and Bronwyn Cole

3. Parental Involvement
All teachers within the study identified parental involvement as a component of teaching that benefited their practice. Teachers within the project made an effort to build relationships with students’ parents. This partnership helped teachers maintain open contact with students’ parents and assisted teachers in gaining insight into students’ lived experiences outside of the classroom. The development of teacher-parent relationships was used to engage parents in the teaching process. Findings by both Pusher (2013) as well as Munns, Sawyer, and Cole (2013) conclude that parents hold a vast amount of knowledge and lived experience that are beneficial to their children’s education. Additionally, both authors indicated that students were more likely to succeed when their parents were involved in their education.

2. Respecting Differences
An additional teaching component that was employed by all teacher participants was the development of a class that respected differences, (Munns, Sawyer, & Cole, 2013). Teachers within the Teacher for a Fair Go project concluded that respect for cultural differences as well as learning differences is integral to the development of classroom cohesion. Gay (2002) also identifies cultural respect and caring as important components of culturally responsive teaching. Furthermore, Munns, Sawyer and Cole (2013) as well as Gay (2002) state that culturally responsive teaching is conveyed through planning for and respecting diverse learning.
1. Culturally Responsive Practice
Munns, Sawyer, and Cole (2013) examine culturally responsive practices within their research study. They believe that culturally responsive practices extend far beyond culturally inclusive curriculum. The culturally responsive practices identified within this book consist of establishing a congruency between the home, school and the greater community. Munns, Sawyer, and Cole (2013) believe that this connection is important due to the significant influence that students’ families and community have on their academic success. Teachers who participated in the Teachers for a Fair Go project found that acknowledging and connecting students’ everyday life experiences to the classroom stimulated rich learning experiences for them; this notion is also supported by Howard and Terry (2011), who believe that students yearn to learn content that is relevant to their lives.

Some of the culturally responsive practices deployed by teacher participants include: making students aware of cultural issues as well as ensuring that all students are able make connections between the classroom and the outside world, in addition to building partnerships with the greater community. Creating a partnership with the greater community provides students within the study with a collaborative learning environment outside of the classroom. Some of the methods suggested within the book include involving parents in the teaching process through everyday learning experience such as grocery shopping, cooking as well as finances. The significance of community-based knowledge is also supported by Howard and Terry (2011), who believe that when content is not connected to students’ everyday life, students’ ability to learn is decreased.
One of the books most significant shortcomings is its inability to present the reader with a complete data analysis framework. According to Pope, Ziebland, and Mays (2002) a data analysis framework consists of five stages: familiarization, identifying the thematic framework, indexing, charting, as well as mapping and interpretation. Although the Munns, Sawyer and Cole (2013) identified the thematic framework and presented their interpretation of the findings, they neglected to include the remaining stages of the framework in the methodology section of the book. The authors’ failure to include this specific information weakens the credibility of the study.

Additionally, the book possesses some pitfalls in regards to the selection process utilized to choose teacher participants. Although the authors provided a brief explanation of characteristics which participant needed to possess to be eligible to participate in the study, they did not indicated if rigorous methods were used to select participants. The use of non-rigorous methods to select participants may have led to skewed data. This notion is supported by Marshall (1996) who states that although less “rigorous methods may be acceptable they do not guarantee a representative sample” (p. 552). The lack of information provided by the authors regarding the research study can lead the reader to feel that the information provided may be skewed.

Furthermore, the authors fail to identify the specific academic limitations associated with belonging to a low SES family. Although the authors illustrate the limitations associated with attending a schools within a low SES neighbourhoods, they fail to provide examples of how belonging to a low SES family affects individual students. For example, on pages 6-7, Munns, Sawyer and Cole (2013) discuss school-wide limitations such as a lack of resources and curriculum differentiation, while neglecting to discuss how variables such as family dynamics or poverty affect a student’s ability to succeed academically.
I would highly recommend this book to all teachers and teacher candidates. The book provides useful strategies that can be utilized by teachers at all grade levels. In addition to providing the reader with advantageous strategies, the book outlines specific methods to implement these strategies within classrooms. Although the book illustrates approaches which are specifically catered towards students within schools in low SES neighbourhoods, I believe that they may be generalized to suit all classrooms. The book focuses on providing students with inclusive learning, which produce the most opportune learning environment. I consider this book a useful guide that can be used to design an extraordinary learning environment, which stimulates higher learning processes. Moreover, the book contains extensive research that supports the authors’ arguments. The only alterations I would make to this text would be to the methodology section; I would have further developed the methodology component of the book to include additional information on data analysis procedures as well as the participant selection process. In conclusion I feel that this book is a useful resource, which is well organized and easy to follow. I would recommend this book to my colleagues as I consider it to be a advantageous professional development tool.
Book Critique

One of the main ideas illustrated by Munns, Sawyer, and Cole (2013) is the concept of the insider classroom. All teachers within the study exhibited components of an insider classroom, which consists of sharing the control of learning between the teacher and the students. Including students in the decision-making process was used to shift power relations. This notion is also supported in a Delpit (1998) article: The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People's Children . Delpit (1998) believes that neglecting to incorporate students in the decision-making process can lead them to feel neglected and excluded. Some of the insider classroom strategies employed by teachers within the Teachers for a Fair Go study included: obtaining students input in regards to classroom arrangement, types of resources, learning activities and time. The insider classroom process invites students to engage in a communal learning experience. Within this process students are prompted to become responsible for their learning through reflection and self-assessment.
Delpit, L.D. (1988). The silenced dialogue: Power and pedagogy in educating other people’s children. Harvard Educational Review, 58 (3).

Gay, G. (2002). Preparing for culturally responsive teaching. (2001 AACTE Outstanding Writing Award Recipient). Journal of Teacher Education, 53(2), 106+.

Faber, A. & Mazlish, E. (2003). How to Talk so Kids can Learn: At Home and at School. New York: Scribner. Chapters 1-4

Martin, M. (1996). Sampling for qualitative research, Family Practice, 13, 522-525

Munns, G. (2013). Exemplary teachers of students in poverty. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Pope, C., Ziwbland, S., Mays, N.(2000). Qualitative research in health care. Analysing qualitative data. Qualitative Research in Health Care, 320 (114).

Pushor, D. (2010). Parent engagement. ETFO Research for Teachers (1). Available at http://www.etfo.ca/resources/pages/default.aspx
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