Do Teachers Still Matter in This Age of Technology? These Authors Think So.

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Veteran educators team up for the release of their second book, Success for Every Student: A Guide to Teaching and Learning, which was released by Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group this month.

With all the multi-tiered interventions, assessment software, aligned textbooks, digital content, and scripted curriculum available to the field, some might question if the role of the teacher is significant in today’s schools.  Does it really matter who is leading the classroom?

“Take a minute and think back to your favorite class,” said Success for Every Student co-author Oran Tkatchov.  “Chances are you do not remember the name of the textbook, the name of computer software, or the order in which the curriculum was taught.  What you do remember is the person in charge of that class: the teacher.”

Success for Every Student: A Guide to Teaching and Learning, the new book from veteran educators Shelly Pollnow and Oran Tkatchov, contains research and evidence-based classroom practices that maximize learning for all students. Throughout the book the authors deliver a common-sense approach to proven teaching strategies that help learners reach their potential.

“In the ever-changing field of teaching, this book captures the most important snapshots of the teaching field. This is a must-have for every new teacher’s bookshelf,” stated veteran teacher Susan Breen.

Success for Every Student is packed full of tools and tips in everything from classroom management to formative assessment that give busy teachers what they need to become more efficient and effective professionals in their classrooms and schools.

At the end of each chapter are real-life scenarios for readers to reflect and think about what they would do in their own practice.

As a bonus, the book has a companion website that provides additional tools and covers current topics in education news.

For more information about this book or for a schedule of upcoming events, email: visit

Elusive Family Engagement

My daughter just started preschool at a public elementary school, and less than a week into the school year we received an invitation to a family literacy night promising fun and excitement with literacy games and workshops for parents.  My first thought was, “Already?” Marking out an evening during the work week for this event seemed, initially, like an inconvenience, and I know how important family engagement in school is.  Now that I am parent as well as an educator, I am finally finding out why it is so difficult for schools to get busy families involved.

The average American worker puts in over 47 hours a week at his/her job, and almost half of two-parent families have both parents working full time jobs, an increase of nearly 20 percent since the 1970s (Fisher, 2015).  Add to this the time it takes to commute, go grocery shopping, run additional errands, and maybe (time permitting) exercise, no wonder family engagement in schools is sometimes as rare as a purple flying unicorn, with only 20% of parents saying they are fully engaged in their child’s school (Yu & Hodges, 2015).

As hard as it is for educators to get families to engage in their child’s education, it is worth the hard work.  As stated in chapter 5 of our book, Success for Every Student, family involvement makes a difference in increasing student achievement and grade point averages.   Behaviorally, students also benefit from increased class attendance, social skills, and improved behavior (Garcia & Thornton, 2014).

Family engagement doesn’t have to be limited to parents attending functions at the school, although family fun nights, community dinners, and other face-to-face activities are incredibly beneficial.  Family engagement can also include what happens within the home, and educators can encourage family members to ask their child about his/her day, make sure a quiet place and time are available for homework, schedule a healthy bed time, or remind the child about the benefits of getting an education.

To show my daughter and her teachers how committed we are to her education, we are blocking off that evening on our calendar for family literacy night.  I can’t wait, and I’ll be sure post afterward to share with you any great ideas and lessons learned from the event.

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