Brittney Shepherd
Powell, R.G., & Powell, D. L. (2010). Classroom communication and diversity: Enhancing instructional practice (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.

Within this textbook is a rich source of information guiding educators to use today’s diverse classroom as a teaching tool to reach every student. The author’s stance is that lesson plans, technology, and textbooks will only get you so far within the four walls of a classroom – communication will bring everything full circle. The book title demonstrates how the author’s link effective communication to best practices when teaching in a diverse classroom. They resolve that maintaining a high level of collaboration within the classroom will bring various groups of students together by creating more equal educational opportunities. Robert G. Powell is Director of the Assistant Lecturer Program at California State University, Fresno. He is considered a Master Teacher by the Western States Communication Association. Dana L. Powell is an Assistant Professor of special education at California State University, Fresno. She has over 20 years’ experience, as a teacher, administrator, and therapist, working with students who have emotional, behavioral, and learning problems. The authors included their own research and experience along with insight from other teachers, parents, and students in the chapters of this textbook. In my professional opinion, this book can be helpful for pre-service, first year, or experienced educators. The authors give simplistic explanations within different diversity categories, i.e. what is an IEP, RTI, zone of proximal development, etc. It also reviews behavior management, a course that is surprisingly absent within most teacher education programs. However, there are chapters within the text that might be easier for experienced teachers to comprehend and apply to their classroom. For example, Chapter 6 discusses building relationships with students. This would still be an excellent source of information for an incoming teacher; nonetheless, the application would not be as immediate and therefore would not be considered pertinent to the here and now. Pre-service teachers, in my experience, are more concerned with engaging lesson plans, differentiating work assignments for students in special education and at risk students, and of course classroom management. The context of this book can be utilized by both experienced and first year teachers. Overall, the reader, no matter how many years of teaching experience, would gain insight into how communication will best reach the most diverse groups of students.
The authors focus on several main ideas pertaining to diversity including the foundations of diversity in the classroom, various categories of diversity, classroom management, and best practices. Throughout the text they tie in how important collaboration and communication are to the successful nature of a diverse classroom. In Unit 2, the authors delve into more details about students with special needs mainstreamed into the classroom and the role of culture and gender within the classroom. Within the chapter on students with special needs, they discuss how to collaborate effectively to meet students’ needs. Towards the end of the textbook the author’s write about instructional strategies including technology in the classroom, cooperative learning, and small group instruction.
Powell and Powell have done an excellent job of bringing to light one of the prime challenges in classrooms today: meeting the needs of such a large and diverse group of students. To reach all students we must pay close attention to the factors that play a role in making instruction effective. For example, culture affects how students learn and receive new information. In chapter 3, the author’s give the following statistic – “African-American students with a high degree of ethnic identification may relate best to instruction that is based on group activities” (Powell & Powell, 2010). These insights are helpful to many teachers who struggle with the best practices of such a diverse classroom. My “Icarus” struggle in the classroom is reaching students with special needs while challenging and meeting the needs of my students that are performing at average and above. The authors have accepted this struggle and given the reader information to take on such difficult tasks, e.g. RTI, Low-incidence and High-incidence disabilities, and IDEA to name only a few. While looking at these concepts in depth the authors stress the importance of communication and the extreme role it plays in the classroom and what it looks like when collaboration of education professionals is successful.
This book has unmistakable value, especially for those educators who are determined to master collaboration concerning diversity in their workplace. The authors of this text illustrate how education is effected by diversity and how collaboration is more than needed its necessary to be successful in teaching within these vivid circumstances that we find ourselves in. I would recommend this book to pre-service and beginning teachers to give them a full spectrum idea of how diverse one classroom can be. I would also recommend this book for teachers who have been in the classroom for more than twenty years because the classrooms they started teaching in have changed and this book gives great insight into how they can adapt to be more effective. This book would be most useful as a resource available from the library, whether it is a workplace library or a public library.