A Review of "Fires in the Bathroom: Advice for Teachers from High
Meaningful Student Involvement Research Review by Adam Fletcher.
in the Bathroom challenges readers to
listen to the voices of those most affected by education reform:
students. Throughout the book Cushman introduces us to the
opinions, experiences, ideas and knowledge of forty students who are
from groups often seen as the “hardest to reach” students: immigrants,
students of color, and low income students. The students tackle a
variety of problems, including classroom behavior and how to help
students with learning challenges. They also dispense a variety of
thoughts about dealing
with misbehavior, teaching English language learners, and more.
Fires in the Bathroom
advocates that students become informants and advocates to teachers on
what works and does not work in their classes. It offers
practical advice to educators from forty high schools students across
the nation. The author unveils a pragmatic outline of advice
from high school students to teachers, covering a variety of topics
and themes. There are detailed accounts, summary lists and
worksheets spread throughout the book that are designed to help
teachers actually listen to their students, and to change their
methods to best support students.
The author suggests all educators
listen to students, and offers the following steps for teachers as
they engage students in discussions about school: Come up with
questions you really care about; Gather a group of students willing to
express their thoughts; Write everything down; Ask for evidence;
Analyze the material together, and; Value the difference in opinions.
book students provide a great deal of valuable information for
educators. Speaking about academic work, a student remarks,
“I think one of the only ways people learn something alien is to
relate it to their own experience. If a teacher can connect geometry
and angles to my interest in art or to being an actor, that works.
Even though I know I didn’t grow up with math, I know enough because
he relates it to me” (p13). Another student, talking about teacher
readiness, says, “It feels like we’re being punished when
the teacher doesn’t know the subject well enough to help students.
The student has to move on the next year to a higher level, and
they’ll be stumped in the next year. It’s kind of not fair” (p24).
Fires in the Bathroom
illustrates the gamete of hopes
students have for schools, and provides vital details for educators to
meet the diverse visions students share. Instead of wanting
total control, students want fairness and respect in schools, between
educators and students and among students themselves. By
listening to students through constructive, meaningful dialogues that
result in change, educators can take valuable steps towards creating
transparent, interdependent relationships in their classrooms and
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