28 February 2008

The Bedside Table

Do you have a stack of reading on your bedside table? I certainly do. At the moment, mine doesn't contain anything that might be described as "reading for pleasure," although I am enjoying all of the work-related tomes that are there. Here's a tour:

  • Tools and Traits: Highly Effective Science Teaching, K-8 by JoAnne Vasquez: Nothing new here for me, but is a very readable book. The chapters give a very brief overview of topics that could be explored in much greater detail. I can definitely see using this with elementary teachers who might need or want more background on instructional practices for science.
  • Teaching Essentials: Expecting the Most and Getting the Best from Every Learner, K-8 by Regie Routman: It's a little short on "how to" but is still an interesting read. She, like George Bush's speechwriter, reminds us of the perils of "the soft bigotry of low expectations." The idea here is that when working with students of poverty, ELL, and other minorities that schools must not assume that these children are incapable. I know that sounds like a "Duh." kind of thing, but I have seen plenty of teachers over the years who operated under just such an assumption. The book is also a reminder of the power of a fresh set of eyes in the classroom. As teachers, we get used to certain routines. We can't help but make judgments based on the previous performance of students. Sometimes, having someone new work with our kids allows us to step out into the observer role and make leaps in our own learning.
  • From Staff Room to Classroom: A Guide for Planning and Coaching Professional Development by Robin Fogarty and Brian Pete: This is a great book. I highly recommend it for anyone who is involved in staff development or instructional coaching. It's a great reference about the many hats of a professional developer---from demonstrating to facilitating to coaching. Get your hands on a copy.
  • Instructional Coaching: A Partnership Approach to Improving Instruction by Jim Knight: This is a strong research-based book that give some very practical tools and strategies for working one-on-one with teachers. I've only read a few chapters, but am impressed with the presentation.
  • Differentiated Coaching: A Framework for Helping Teachers Change by Jane Kise: I'm not too deep into this one, either, but I really like the idea of differentiated staff development. The "one size fits all" approach has got to change. How can we expect teachers to differentiate within their own classrooms if do not model and support that with professional development opportunities?
There is always more to read and learn. I certainly have a stack of ongoing reading for my current grad class, too. At the end of April, when my research project is done, when my last grad class is done, WASL is over, and the final quarter of the school year is underway, I plan to start reading for fun again. Not to worry, I have a whole list for that, too.

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