Creating Caring Classrooms: How to encourage students to communicate, create, and be compassionate of others
by Kathleen Gould Lundy and Larry Swartz
Pembroke Publishers, 2011
$24.95, 159 pp, adult
It is difficult to imagine a professional textbook that is likely to change the climate of your classroom. However, that is exactly what is offered in Lundy and Swartz’s Creating Caring Classrooms. The authors afford readers deeper thinking in six areas: The Bigger Picture, Building Community, Building Communication, Building Collaboration, Building Compassion, and Confronting the Bully Issue. For any teacher who has ever been frustrated by “kids these days,” this text provides a roadmap to classroom social change.
One aspect of any professional resource I appreciate is how soon and how swiftly I can implement the ideas and inspiration I have gleaned from the author’s advice. Inarguably, the strength of this book is just that; educators can easily access practical and pragmatic activities for everyday use or for school-wide community-building endeavours (Spirit Week, Anti-Bullying campaigns, awareness initiatives, etc.). Lundy and Swartz provide easy to locate quick references for everything from games to graphic organizers related to classroom or small-group activities on their top five elements of caring (Community, Communication, Collaboration, Compassion,and Confronting the Bully Issue). As such, this text will be invaluable to resource teachers, counselors, classroom teachers and administrators.
It is rare that I am brought to tears by a textbook; a graduate student myself, I am somewhat immune to even the most touching of text due to the sheer volume of my reading experience. But I must admit, with both embarrassment and awe, that this professional text managed to make me cry. I am often dumb-founded by the juxtaposition of the accomplishments and the apathy of my generation. I am inspired by someone my age about as often as I am embarrassed. What part of this book made me cry, you must wonder? Should you buy it, please turn to page 98 and think of me. There you will find a reproducible copy of The Story of the Hummingbird. Somewhere around 200 words, it boasts meaning and metaphors beyond what can be directly read in its mere thirty lines. I cannot wait to introduce this very short story to my Guided Reading groups at school. I teach both a Kindergarten and a 6th grade group. I love that I can share this orally with the Kinders, and via photocopy for the middle-years students, and that, regardless of age, the impact will be significant. The Story of the Hummingbird sings a song of tenacity, perseverance and work ethic. It reminds us that the likelihood of success is no excuse for lack of effort. In a world full of instant gratification and endless opportunities to put oneself first, it is a crisp-and-clear refresher that character is still the stuff miracles are made of. Highly recommended.
Review by Kimberley Siwak.
This review is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s Jan/Feb 2013 issue.