New Book Aims to Train Urban Educators

Teachers and administrators at The University of Texas Elementary School have completed a new book titled "Teaching to the Spirit of Every Child: Lessons Learned in Urban Education," and are ready to disseminate it widely to educators across Texas.

The best practices teaching guide, authored by nine UT Elementary School teachers, school psychologist Dr. Jennifer Hargrave and former CEO Dr. Ramona Trevino took two years to complete. The project was funded by the RGK Foundation and the University Federal Credit Union, with the purpose to train student teachers in the Urban Education Program at The University of Texas at Austin and teachers in school districts across Texas.

"The teachers are proud of this book," said Melissa Chavez, UT Elementary School executive director. "It really shows the work of our daily lives, of what we do here."

Chavez spent the past year editing the book with Mark Goldberg in order to produce the 313-page guide that discusses the school's two best practice teaching methods -- Response to Intervention (RtI) and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) -- and how teachers can integrate them into their classrooms. RtI dictates that each student should receive a level of instruction appropriate to his or her need, and SEL promotes self-awareness and emotion management that lead to a positive self-concept and collaborative relationships with peers and others by contributing to a positive classroom and school climate, allowing for more learning to take place.

The authors offer real examples through student case studies to illustrate how they have successfully taught their subject material to individual learners. The book includes the traditional academic areas of science, math, language arts and social studies, as well as physical education and art.

The book is available at the University Co-op, which printed the guide.

Chavez said UT Elementary School staff would like to publish a book every two years, with the next one focused on early childhood education and health.

Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement, said, "It is gratifying to see all the great work happening at UT Elementary School, with programs like the SEL curriculum. The new book does a great job bridging research and practice. We want other urban schools and districts in Texas to use this book as a guide to help more students achieve academically and socially."