Transformative Approaches – Best Practices for Education Professionals

xiv Preface
of teaching methods that improve student learning, and 4) school choice options for
parents and federal funding for learning supports for students in “low-performing”
schools (U.S. Department of Education, 2004).
Many of the articles included in the book intertwine in a variety of ways. An over-
arching theme that emerged from the collective perspectives of these writers was for
adopting a holistic view and approach to learning and education, rather than prescrip-
tive solutions to educational challenges and teaching and learning processes. Teaching
and learning are the core of the work of educators in each of the professional roles
identied above; these processes take place wherever teachers and learners are pres-
ent and open to receiving and wrestling with new ideas, information, perspectives,
and behaviors. These processes in education can be viewed simplistically, as taking
place in classrooms with seated students who pay attention to and receive informa-
tion from a designated teacher who is responsible for delivery of the lesson. However,
teaching and learning viewed more holistically are reciprocal processes, comprehen-
sive in scope, and are founded on interdependent relationships, openness and trust
in communication, inclusiveness and valuing of all, high aspirations for all, and col-
laborative problem-solving. The school counselor, for example, assessing the student
who has been isolated by peers, may learn that the student does not have at her/his
disposal the social skills necessary for healthy interactions with peers. This counselor
may develop a variety of means for teaching this student these essential life skills. A
comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning processes, in this scenario, will
reect the relationship between the student and the counselor, as well as the relation-
ships among the student and her/his peers, between the student and her/his various
classroom teachers, and between the student and her/his family members, with the
expectation that the student can successfully learn the skills necessary for social/per-
sonal success with peers, family, and other adults. Humans do not learn social skills
in isolation, thus a comprehensive approach will include school-wide interventions,
classroom-based interventions, small-group interventions, and individual interven-
tions. What counselors term interventions are simply variations on the teaching and
learning processes, just as how a school administrator might respond to the group of
students who have isolated this student is another variation.
Four additional themes arise from a review of the chapters in this volume: account-
ability, school culture/community, transformative approaches, and reective practice.
Following are the best practice themes that emerged and our associated commentary
on each:
To reform means “to improve or correct what is corrupt or defective” (The Merriam-
Webster Dictionary, 1974). We chose this older, but not dated, definition of reform
because it most accurately expresses how reform may have been understood in 1983,
when a Nation at Risk was presented to decision-makers as an argument for educa-
tional reform. The authors in the current work seek to transform our education prac-
tices, that is, “to change in condition, nature, or character,” (, 2010)
and encourage innovative ideas, non-traditional practices, and thinking “outside the