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8 lessons from my holiday reading

One of my #nurture1314 wishes for 2014 is to read more. I wrote earlier that I was going to aim for one book per term and one book per holidays.  So far these holidays, I have read two.  Both for pleasure, although they are both related to work. I am hoping that what I have taken from these two books is going to change my teaching and my learning. I must be honest – one book took me 2 days to read, as I was trying to do a few other things at the same time, whereas the other book took me a total of 65 minutes. They also have numerous highlightings and bookmarks thanks to my Kindle app!

This is what I have learned so far…

Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids (Chris Biffle) @ChrisBiffle

Lesson 1: Keeping the whole brain of a child busy reduces challenging behaviour. It stands to reason that if a student is too busy thinking and learning, they have less time to distract others, flick pencils across the room and draw on their arms. I had never thought of the classroom as a war-zone, but Biffle writes,

“Year after year, good teachers leave teaching because they are tired of warring with disruptive kids.”

I do not want to be one of those teachers. I want to stand strong.

Lesson 2: Manage your own behaviour as a teacher before trying to manage the behaviour of a student.  I have definitely lost my cool more than once in the classroom, but giving myself a weekly ‘teaching score’ as a reflection is probably fair if I expect students to reflect on their own behaviour.

Lesson 3: A classroom only needs 5 classroom rules, as long as they are referred to constantly and used consistently. I loved how Mrs Maestra’s rules activated five different areas of the brain – hence the term Whole Brain.

Lesson 4: Keep your instructions short, always. Follow the instruction with an opportunity for students to teach each other what you have just taught them. Repetitive, but effective.

Why School? (Will Richardson) @willrich45

Lesson 1: “Access doesn’t automatically come with an ability to use the Web well.” (Richardson). This is probably my favourite quote from this book. The majority of our students have access, yet parents and teachers still need to guide them and support them in their technology journey.

Lesson 2: Telling students to “do your own work” should become a phrase of the past. Collaboration is the key, the buzz word, the new line of teaching and learning. Richardson writes that it we should be telling students, “do work with others, and make it work that matters.”

Lesson 3: Newer doesn’t necessarily mean better. To quote my mother, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” applies to education as well. Hasty decisions get made in education all the time because some school strive to be the biggest and best…and beat everybody else. Just because the school down the road has X,Y & Z doesn’t mean that your school’s U, V & W are completely redundant. When new devices and programs first come out, they’ve still got glitches and wrinkles to be ironed out. Patience is a virtue.

Lesson 4: Talking to strangers these days is a completely different concept to what it used to be. I freaked out my boyfriend the other day by telling him that I met for coffee with one of my Twitter friends. He had trouble getting his head around the fact that this ‘stranger’ was in fact somebody that is part of my PLN and we were just being complete nerds and getting together in the holidays to talk about…school. Yes, as he reminded me, talking to strangers can still be dangerous, I know that!  The ‘strangers’ in my PLN on Twitter teach me so much and I am forever grateful to them.

Next on my reading list: Beyond the Hole in the Wall and Twirling Naked in the Streets and No One Noticed.  Has anybody read any of these books? I’m keen to find out your thoughts!

3 thoughts on “8 lessons from my holiday reading

  1. Hi Fee,
    STILL waiting impatiently for my WBT book to arrive!! I will need to cram reading next week so that I can finish it before school starts back. Whenever I saw the five “rules” for WBT classrooms, I always cringed at the “Keep Your Dear Teacher Happy” rule. However, your note that these rules were designed to activate each lobe of the brain make sense and I’m guessing that rule relates to wherever emotions are located? I wonder how altering them would affect things.
    I’m now going to order ‘Why School’ on the Kindle app so I have something to read before my book arrives! You have made it sound very appealing. I am hopeless with book recommendations – I never know where to look. Thanks for your suggestions, they were very helpful.
    Katelyn 🙂

    P.S. Loved having juices the other day!

  2. Hi Fiona, I have also read Will Richardsons “Why School?” and your takeaways are aligned with my own. I am currently reading “How Children Succeed” by Paul Tough and I am finding it fascinating. It is all about how stress impacts on learning and that it is not actually poverty that affects learning but the circumstances that poverty places young people. It explores the character traits that lead to successful learning and how we can support children to develop these traits. Very eye opening.

    You have inspired me to write a post reflecting on the completion of my own reading. Thanks for sharing! I hope you manage to squeeze another one in before school goes back.

    1. Thanks for your feedback Rhoni. I’ve just downloaded a sample of “How Children Succeed” so I don’t rack up a huge Amazon bill for this month! I’ve also added “The Book Thief” to my reading list before I go and see the movie.
      I love reading book reflections and recommendations, so I hope I’ve encouraged you to write one too!

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