Synopses & Reviews
Praise for Up Where We Belong
"Up Where We Belong is in a special category of books about instructional improvement that have the ring of reality about them. The writing is clear and compelling. The text is illustrated richly, with the authentic voices of students. It focuses on key aspects of school structures and processes. The comparison of students' voices with adult voices is a fresh approach to data gathering, which enables discrepancies between the two to be analyzed, with extremely revealing results. The author provides an excellent variety of substantive suggestions for improving educational achievements, lists of things that I regard as valid pragmatics. The author makes excellent use of supporting literature. This is an excellent contribution to the literature on raising student achievement."
—Asa G. Hilliard III, Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Urban Education, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia
"Dr. Thompson has done it again, with another excellent book. What I enjoyed most about the book were the responses from students about their teachers. Every educator needs to hear how our students feel. Every teacher needs to read this book."
—Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, author, An African Centered Response to Ruby Payne's Poverty Theory
"Gail Thompson is an important voice in the struggle to achieve equal educational outcomes for children of color. Her passionate commitment to our children and families springs forth from these pages. This book is filled with valuable information and solutions. It is 'must reading' for all educators."
—Janice E. Hale, professor of early childhood education, Wayne State University, and author, Learning While Black
In Up Where We Belong, Gail Thompson asked the students in a low performing school to be candid about their high school experiences. Using this information and relying on data from questionnaires and focus groups, Thompson discovered a huge gap in perception between how teachers and students view their experience of school. The book explores this disparity, and uncovers some of the reasons for students’ low achievement, apathy, and frustration. Most important, she offers vital lessons for transforming schools–especially for underachieving kids and students of color.
Up Where We Belong
"All students deserve to have great teachers and an outstanding K-12 education. Unfortunately, this is not the experience of countless students throughout the nation, especially America's stepchildren. Instead of shaking our heads and ignoring the situation, there is much work that each adult can do to bring about reform."
—Gail L. Thompson
What will it take to get all students–even the most disenfranchised–engaged in school and motivated to learn and achieve?
In Up Where We Belong, Gail Thompson asked the students in a low performing school to be candid about their high school experiences. Using this information and relying on data from questionnaires and focus groups, Thompson discovered a huge gap in perception between how teachers and students view their experience of school. The book explores this disparity, and uncovers some of the reasons for students' low achievement, apathy, and frustration. Most important, she offers vital lessons for transforming schools–especially for underachieving kids and students of color.
Throughout the book Thompson passionately discusses the controversial aspects of race relations in school. From the negative perception of black boys to well-meaning but misguided attempts to honor diversity through ethnic history activities, Thompson shows how every little thing matters. While this may sound alarming at first, it also means that all teachers, parents, and school leaders have it within their power to improve student achievement by reflecting on their own perceptions and developing practices and policies that really motivate students to connect with learning.
About the Author
Gail L. Thompson is associate professor ofeducation at Claremont Graduate University and a respected speaker, workshop presenter, and consultant. Her research has focused on beliefs and perceptions about African-American students. She is the author of Through Ebony Eyes: What Teachers Need to Know But Are Afraid to Ask About African American Students from Jossey-Bass, African American Teens Discuss Their Schooling Experiences and What African American Parents Want to Know. She is also co-author of Exposing the Culture of Arrogance in the Academy. She lives in Rialto, California.
Table of Contents
About the Author.
PART ONE: IN THE CLASSROOM.
1. "You Can Tell If They Care": Why Students Need Caring and Highly Qualified Teachers.
2. "It Would Be Nice to Learn Something About My Culture": A Plea for a Culturally Relevant and More Interesting Education.
3. "It Don't Make No Sense to Give Us All These Tests": Student Effort, Achievement, and Attitudes About Standardized Tests.
4. "They Just Think We're Loud": How Discipline Policies and Practices Can Affect Students' Attitudes About School.
PART TWO: ON THE SCHOOLYARD.
5. "We Just Can't Seem to Get Along": Race Relations on Campus.
6. "You Don't Know If They're Gonna...Bust a Columbine on Everybody": Why Schools Won't Ever Be Entirely Safe.
7. "Everybody's Intimidated by Us": A Candid Conversation with African American Males.
8. "This Place Is Nasty": How the School's Physical Environment Can Contribute to Student Apathy.
PART THREE: OUT IN THE WORLD: BEYOND THE CLASSROOM AND THE SCHOOLYARD.
9. "Yes! They Do Care About My Education": Parent Involvement in Schools.
10. "They Should Worry More About Our Future": Why America's Stepchildren Need a College Preparatory Curriculum.
11. The Truth Can Set Us Free! Seven Lessons I've Learned About School Reform in America.
Appendix A: Teacher Demographics.
Appendix B: Student Demographics.
Appendix C: Additional Information About the Student Questionnaire Respondents.
Appendix D: Teacher Questionnaire Results.
Appendix E: Student Questionnaire Results.
Appendix F: Classroom Management Exercise 1.
Appendix G: Classroom Management Exercise 2.