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Ray Galela Music teacher, El Camino High School South San Francisco Classroom Teachers Association Principles of Classroom Management by James Levin and James F. Nolan is a nuts-and-bolts book that proved invaluable during Galela’s fi rst two years of teaching. He still refers to it from time to time, as he does The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children (Gloria Ladson-Billings), a book where the experiences of eight successful teachers are told anecdotally and tied into research about education and teaching. The stories are about how teachers over- came problems in class: cultural differences, behavior and fi nancial issues. “I found the book easy to relate to,” he says. “While reading each of the stories, I envisioned myself in the classroom as a student and then as the teacher. I certainly learned a lot from this book, and the stories told by the teachers still inspire me to be a better teacher.” Becky Stephan and Sherri Prendergast Paraprofessionals, El Rincon Elementary School Association of Classifi ed Employees, Culver City Advice from this pair of paras: Begin the year with a clear understanding of the classroom rules and fi nd out whether the teacher wants a support professional to be independent or follow ex- act directions. Some teachers want a more structured environment and others give a little bit of leeway, they explain. When expectations are clear, support professionals and teachers can bounce ideas off one another and be partners. They also have this advice: “Make sure to tell the kids how smart they are. They will start to believe it if someone tells them it is true.” Some of their favorite websites are,, www., and members Back-to-school tips for Stories by Sherry Posnick-Goodwin • Photos by Scott Buschman Want some ideas that won’t clog your inbox, take tons of time or require meetings with your Professional Learning Community? We asked some CTA members to share their favorite tips, resources and strategies to help get your year off to a great start. 18 California Educator | SEPTEMBER 2010

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