As public schools become increasingly embattled by budget shortfalls, crowded buildings, and ever-more-rigid curricula, the burden of these restrictions has drastically changed the way children are expected to learn. Nowhere is this more obvious or more devastating than classrooms in high-need urban areas. Drawing upon teachers firsthand experiences in some of today's most demanding schools, leading education experts Beverly Falk and Megan Blumenreich provide an enlightening account of what our students really need-and how teachers are stepping up to provide what state standards and political posturing cannot. Teaching Matters takes us into a variety of classrooms to witness the art of teaching at its most creative and effective, with a focus on early childhood and elementary school. We follow educators as they strive to change systems that fail to address the needs of their students, from efforts to break the silence about homophobia in schools and multipronged strategies to build stronger relationships with immigrant families to the modification of ineffective curriculum to foster the growth of the "whole child". By confronting many misconceptions about urban education and school reform, Falk and Blumenreich provide a crucial insider's look at some of the most challenging and relevant questions in education today.