Book Review

On Excellence in Teaching

edited by Robert J. Marzano, Solution Tree Press, Bloomington, Ind., 2010, 380 pp. with index, $34.95 hardcover

On Excellence in Teaching is a collection of 14 essays provided by writers who are among the most prominent in American education. These familiar voices, assembled by Robert Marzano, offer much of what we have heard before but with a new slant here and a fresh insight there.

The collection focuses on teachers’ instructional skills, here referred to as the “keystone of school effectiveness.” Marzano groups the chapters under three broad sections: “Theories of Excellence,” “Systemic Excellence” and “Classroom Excellence,” which provide the reader with a limited sense of what the collection has to offer.

Each chapter’s theme is distinct, with several chapters making up a section. Given the loose topical relationship of the chapters in each section, the reader may find a more coherent sequence for reading the chapters after examining the chapter titles.

Marzano’s collection offers new approaches to move teachers’ instructional skills forward. Whether intentional or not, the assertion conveyed throughout is that much can be done to raise the effectiveness of teachers.

Collectively, the ideas are a lot to consider, but they represent a highly constructive response to a reform-laden American education landscape. Although the essays can be read in any order, it is important to read all of the chapters to gain the full synergistic impact of Marzano’s collection.

Reviewed by Jim Frenck, associate professor of teacher education, Roberts Wesleyan College, Rochester, N.Y.