Although my students seems to enjoy wallowing in the endless amounts of information on the Internet, I am the opposite: I prefer to avoid it. Teachers are inundated with information. Some of it is helpful, but most of it is not. Actually, every new initiative makes me want to scream (but that's a whole other blog post).
In my quest to unsuck my teaching, I had to settle on a method of improvement, and this would have to involve some sort of in-take of information. My first choice was to get a coach, but we don't have any of those lingering around my school. I thought about conferences, but they are expensive. I thought about chatrooms, and although I sometimes find them helpful, I mostly find them unfocused and overwhelming.
So, because of my personality (afraid of information overload and fond of deep reflective periods), I've decided to do a book study. This could easily get out of control, as well, given the number of books out there dedicated to teacher improvement, but I am going to block that out and focus on what's literally in front of me: a bookshelf of books given to me by former teachers, mentors, AP trainers, gifted teachers, principals, and department chairs. When I was given these books, I usually accepted them with a gracious "THANK YOU!!!" and then, when the unsuspecting giver was not looking, I would roll my eyes and throw the book in the pile of "Things I Will Never Have Time to Read Until Retirement." But eleven years later, here I am. I'm not near retirement, but it turns out I've got a little time to start chopping away at my reading pile. (Yes, that is right. If you can survive until the eleventh year of your teaching career, YOU TOO may have enough time to do some professional development that may actually help you.)
So there's a bit of irony here in me writing a blog, since I find information on the Internet to be overwhelming, but I need a place to process what I am learning. Why not share with others as I go?
What type of professional development do you find helpful?
What books have you read lately that made a noticeable difference in your teaching?
Here are three books I recommend that you read if you would like to make some changes to your teaching:
This is an embarrassing confession, but I was never taught discipline and/or classroom management in my undergraduate teaching program. My graduate program focused on reading, so it was not covered there either. SO, if you've never had training in discipline and classroom management, guess where you get your skills from? That's right. Your parents. You just do whatever it is they did. For some of us, this is a good thing and all will go well. For the REST of us, we may need some help. :) This book is great for Classroom Management 101. It explains what you should do starting on day 1. I used a lot of the tips from this book last school year and things went a lot smoother than they normally do!
This is a must-read for English teachers. If your cooperating teacher never gave it to you to read, or it was not required by your program, run out the door and buy a copy right now!! This books covers the gamut from lesson planning to unit planning to reading and writing skills, grade book management...just everything. You will need to read it 2-3 times to get out all that you can (and then by that time, Jim will be out with a new edition with new materials. Darn you, Jim Burke! But it's all good stuff. I promise.)
I haven't even finished this book because there were so many tips and tricks in the first few chapters that I spent the rest of the year working on them. This is a book for any teacher and focused on strategies that all teachers can use to make the most of their lessons.
I would love to know what books you have read that have changed your teaching! Leave me a comment below!