New Series: Book Notes for My Future Selves

When I quit Twitter, part of my motivation was to make time for long form education-related reading.  As much as I learn from blogs, and learned from networks on Twitter, I’m embarrassed to say that in the first 7.5 years of my teaching career I probably read no more than five new books on education (I have re-read Understand by Design six or seven times, and Horace’s School and The Passionate Teacher at least a few time each, in that period).

Over the years, I’ve accumulated a long list of books I meant to read.  As I began planning Harvest Collegiate in January, I found motivation to try to read all of them before we open in September.  I’ve been on a roll, and hope to keep it going.

As I’ve knocked off book after book, I also kept on meaning to write about them, but haven’t found the time nor voice I wanted to use.  I wanted to avoid becoming an acolyte (“you must read this book”) or a critic (“she’s wrong here and right here”), but wasn’t sure what else to say.

So I’m going to try something new in this space, and as I finish education books (and find time to write, which is getting harder these days as I keep a full teaching job while spending a lot of time on school planning), I’m going to just include notes and quotes for myself in the different roles I assume: Teacher, Advisor, School Designer, Professional Developer, and Advocate.  I hope some of this is helpful to others, and would welcome dialogue about any or all of the notes in the comment. I’ve written a bunch of them to get me started, and will post them in the coming days and weeks.  They’ll be in the new “Book Notes” category.

Before I start though, I do want to take on the acolyte role for just one book: I recently finished David Perkins’ Making Learning Whole.  I haven’t been this excited reading a book about education since I first read Ted Sizer’s Horace’s Compromise ten years ago, the reading experience that made me want to get involved with schools.  When Making Learning Whole first came out, I read the introduction and said to myself, “I’m already doing this, so this book isn’t worth my time.”  I was so wrong.  Perkins offers the most complete picture of how we should approach helping students learn I have ever encountered.  It helped me refine my thinking on a lot of things, and more importantly, gives me crystal clear language to use in supporting other teachers.  It is the perfect balance of theoretical framework and practical examples, all backed by research. I hope to ask all new teachers at Harvest to read it before coming in (thanks to Critical Friend Andy for that suggestion).

Making Learning Whole will join Understanding by Design as a book I make sure I re-read every summer.  If you haven’t read it, please do; every student deserves a teacher who has.