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Teaching on Solid Ground

Teaching on Solid Ground
Nuance, Challenge, and Technique for the Emerging Teacher

Foreword by Martin J. and Patricia Koldyke

February 2006 | 176 pages | Corwin
'I connected with the text at every level. I laughed and cried with each teacher's wisdom. The sections and chapters evoked emotions ranging from 'yep, that's right,' at the beginning, to 'Wow! Cool ideas!' in the middle, to 'Oh my gosh, I feel their pain,' and finally to 'Okay, I can tackle the world's problems, one at a time,' in the end....Gives teachers great ideas and validates what they are doing in the classroom. The five examples of extraordinarily grounded teachers are priceless' - Stacey B. Ferguson, Teacher

North Bay Elementary School, Bay Saint Louis, MS

This sequel to Dom Belmonte's acclaimed Teaching From the Deep End takes beginning teachers from their first year of classroom teaching into years 2 through 5, the most difficult years for teacher development and retention within the profession.

Moving from the novice teacher's earliest concerns about standing at the Big Desk, the author now addresses the beginning teacher's instructional issues, offering guidance on 15 teaching topics, including student learning groups, instructional pacing, open-ended questioning, grading, motivators, keeping an ear to classroom tone (and undertone), and more.

Five sample lessons are offered and analyzed in core curriculum areas to illustrate teaching methods as practiced by master teachers, and the book closes with a variety of challenges critical to the emerging teacher's resilience and success. The author's tone throughout is engaging, humorous, and encouraging, with a focus on the rewards of having chosen the teaching profession, making this an ideal resource for teacher induction, mentoring, and support programs.

Foreword by Martin J. and Patricia Koldyke
About the Author
1: Becoming and Celebrating Yourself as a Grounded Teacher: Five Requisite Precepts
Precept 1: Recognition and Belief That the Quality of Your Work is a Matter of Life and Death to Your Students

Precept 2: Immunity From the Toxic Cynicism of Your Colleagues

Precept 3: Recognition That Your Words Matter

Precept 4: Recognition That You Must Have a Reason to Be in Front of Your Students

Precept 5: Give Them Hope, Rather Than Love

2: Fifteen Indicators of a Grounded Teacher: Classroom Nuances and Other Cues
First Indicator: Avoiding Classroom Wheel Spinning

Second Indicator: Being Comfortable With Time and With Questions

Third Indicator: Attending the Lecture’s Funeral

Fourth Indicator: Mastering the Art of Asking Questions

Fifth Indicator: Planning Student Group Work Carefully

Sixth Indicator: Being a Non-Contributor to Classroom Disarray

Seventh Indicator: Knowing Speed Kills Everywhere, Even in the Classroom

Eighth Indicator: Avoiding the Rudderless Class

Ninth Indicator: Keeping an Ear to the Tone of a Classroom

Tenth Indicator: Beware of Your Own Undertone!

Eleventh Indicator: Avoiding Topic or Grade as Threat

Twelfth Indicator: Using Compliments Adroitly

Thirteenth Indicator: Prodding Gently (but Prodding Nonetheless!)

Fourteenth Indicator: Holding Students Responsible for Their Own Learning

Fifteenth Indicator: Holding Students Responsible for Their Own Behavior: “We Don’t Baby Our Babies Anymore”

3: Model Techniques of Exceptionally Grounded Teachers
The Socratic Seminar Method for High School English Classes: Exceptionally Grounded Teacher Tom Anstett, Lincoln-Way East High School, Frankfort, IL

Getting Students Hooked Through the Power of Inquiry Science: Exceptionally Grounded Teacher Jim Effinger, Naperville North High School, Naperville, IL

Presenting Poetry To the Recalcitrant and Suspicious High School Student: The "Search for the Central Experience" Method

The Magic Math Box and Elementary Math Approach: Exceptionally Grounded Teacher Sr. Raeleen Sweeney, PBVM, Golden Apple Foundation, Chicago, IL

Literacy Travels: Exceptionally Grounded Teacher Jim Sorensen, Chippewa Middle School, Des Plaines, IL

Lessons in Loving Science and Children: Exceptionally Grounded Teacher Carolyn "Mama C" Cyriaque, Golden Apple Foundation, Chicago, IL

4: Further Nuances and Challenges for the Grounded Teacher
When Tragedy Affects the Classroom

Teacher Burnout: What It Is, Why It Is, Why You Must Combat It, or Leave Teaching Now

State and Federal Testing and the Fight for a Teacher's Soul

Bridging the Achievement Gap With Your Minority Students: A Conversation With Gloria Harper and a Summary of the National Study Group for the Affirmative Development of Academic Ability

Epilogue: A Teacher's Poem, the Subjects of Fear and Resilience

"Provides motivation and a sense of commitment even to a veteran teacher (me!)...a book I will refer to often, as well as use for the teachers I mentor."

Patricia Eggers
NBCT, Brown Deer School District, Glendale, WI

"Offers encouraging, uplifting advice and support to help teachers remember the purpose and importance of their profession...The examples and vignettes offer a wealth of fresh, energizing techniques, along with ideas to pump life into stale and chalky routines. Thanks for the inspiration!"

Sharon Elin
NBCT, Early Adolescent Social Studies, Chickahominy Middle School, Hanover County, VA

"Provides a resource for developing teachers to reflect on their current practices and craft, identify areas of strength and needed change, and provides a beacon for knowing when they are becoming master teachers."

Jayne Englert-Burns
NBCT, Pine Crest Elementary, Silver Spring, MD

"I put down the book feeling proud to be a teacher...someone understands that I care more about my students than about politics, money, or prestige, and that my focus on students has inherent worth far beyond a paycheck!"

Sharon Elin
NBCT, Early Adolescent Social Studies, Chickahominy Middle School, Hanover County, VA

 "Offers intellect, relevant statistics, human examples, teacher stories, witty analogies, practical solutions, and most of all, hope for those at any point in their teaching career...what I am most impressed with is that the author does not continually blame the system or others but gently reminds us, chapter after chapter, that just as our students come to the pivotal point of taking responsibility for learning, we as teachers must look inward and reflect upon our responsibility to really, really do the teaching."

Sarah Earle, NBCT
Hampton High School, Hampton, VA

"Belmonte offers advice on how to become a grounded teacher by advocating discussions instead of lectures and profiling the techniques of teaching veterans."

Class Notes, Spring 2006
Missouri State Teachers Association

"Teaching on Solid Ground really is an overall ‘reader friendly’ reference and guide for becoming an ideal and appropriate teacher, very strongly recommended to all teachers, new and experienced, for its exclusive ability to relate to its readers and its deeply accurate reasoning for taking its recommended approaches."

Wisconsin Bookwatch, April 2006

"Both new and experienced teachers will enjoy Belmonte's humorous and heartfelt reflections on the rewards of teaching. The author focuses on 15 ways to master classroom pacing, outlines 5 sample lessons, and suggests reflective approaches to testing, bridging the achievement gap, and other challenges."

Curriculum Connections, Fall 2006
School Library Journal

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781412924634