In her newest book, Beyond the Looking Glass: Self-Reflection and Evaluation = More Effective Teaching (Christopher-Gordon Publishers, Inc.), Dr. Susan Mandel Glazer, director of the Center for Reading and Writing at Rider University, explores how teachers’ behaviors and reactions affect students’ learning. The book is a collection of teacher behaviors based on observations she has made over the course of her 42-year career in education.
Glazer, who is also a professor of Graduate Education at Rider, introduces the reader to four models of common behaviors found in teachers in Beyond the Looking Glass, her 17th book. The first model, “I-Me Teacher,” describes a teacher-owned classroom where the teacher dictates to the class. The second model, “Gypsy Rose Lee Momma Model,” or “Stage Door Momma Model,” describes the teacher who is the puppet master of the class; one who “pulls the strings” from behind the curtain. The third model is “Each Student is Unique,” which describes the views of the Center for Reading and Writing. The fourth is the “Find Your Own Way Model,” in which classroom management is unstructured and often aimless.
“The book is personal and insightful. It will make people stop to think what they do and say in and outside the classroom,” Glazer said. “The book is meant to encourage teachers to look at themselves in the mirror, self-reflect, become aware of one’s own behaviors, and then use the text to attempt to change that which might stifle a child from wanting to be in school.”
The Center for Reading and Writing is recognized worldwide as a place for exceptional literacy learning both for the children, ages 5 to 16, and graduate students learning to be reading specialists. Glazer, along with the staff and graduate students, guides children to set their own learning goals by completing personalized contracts and progress reports, self-selecting literature readings and responses, and developing individual research topics of choice.
“Children have control. They know what they need and what they need to know. Since all children select their own topics in order to learn to write a research paper, motivation is high and the desire to write creates a need to learn important literacy skills,” Glazer said. “Through self-monitoring and assessment, students improve their reading and writing skills.”
As a young professor, Glazer saw that her students needed a hands-on facility to practice what they were learning in their coursework. She requested a classroom space, and her students, those studying to become teachers, began to guide the children of Rider faculty and staff to become effective readers and writers. Once word spread, the after-school and summer programs grew, and the Center for Reading and Writing officially opened its doors to the community in 1980.
Since then, more than 7,500 children have come through the Center, which holds fall, spring and summer programs. Glazer has spoken by invitation in 29 countries and all 50 states about the Center’s programs and her research. Each year, the Center welcomes numerous educators and visitors to observe participating children and graduate students.
During this summer’s program, which ran from July 6 to July 28, the Center welcomed professional illustrators, children’s book authors and storytellers, including Dr. William Guthrie, an expert in New Jersey Native Americans, and Bonnie Rozanski, an author of young-adult literature.
In addition, educators and administrators from Sausalito Marin City School District and Marin County Head Start in California recently visited to observe the Center as part of a grant for preschool through third-grade literacy.
“We knew about the reputation of the Center for Reading and Writing,” said Rebecca Courtney, a teacher at Marin City Head Start.
The visitors also included Debra Bradley, superintendent of Sausalito Marin City School District; Kay Wernert, director of Marin City Head Start; Erica Edwards, teacher at Marin City Head Start and Teach for America; Jennifer Banks, kindergarten teacher at Bayside Elementary School; and Jonnette Newton, principal at Bayside Elementary School.
“I think they brought a specific level of professionalism, and wonderful questions and interest. They were great observers,” Glazer said.
Student registration for the Center’s Fall Reading and Writing Program has begun. The program will run one day per week, from 4 to 6 p.m., beginning the week of October 12 and running through the week of December 14. For more information, please call Gail Turner at 609-896-5313. The Center is located on the first floor of Maurer Center, Room 110, on Rider’s Lawrenceville campus.