The last 5 months have been the most transformative time in my teaching career, and it all started with a book.
Now, I am not a huge reader. I've never really enjoyed reading. I felt like I never had time to sit and read. Especially now with 2 young boys. I never liked it when others recommended books. Over the last 5 months, I've realized that I really enjoy books that push my thinking as an educator. I feel like I can physically do something from the knowledge I've gained. I've read more books the last 5 months than I have in my whole life. Well, the book What School Could Be by Ted Dintersmith captured me. It was thought provoking and inspiring. It made me shift my teaching and helped me find my "tribe".
I joined a book study to meet with others and discuss the ideas and questions we had regarding 'What School Could Be'. This excited me! I am an introvert and often ponder on my thoughts and questions. It's hard to share these deep thoughts about education with a non-educator. It's not their fault, but they have a different lens than educators do. This book study gave me a chance to hear from other like minded individuals and share thoughts. It gave me a community that I could share my fears, ask for advice, and get encouragement. This has made all the difference this year.
This community pushed our thinking. We raised important questions. We made a game plan. We met with community members. We raised awareness for what needs to change in education. We opened our classrooms to others. We rallied together for encouragement and praised others' efforts. We connected through social media. And now, we are a community that will continue to push for change and support each other to reach that next level.
This book made my teaching change from teacher-centered to student-centered. Transition from 'sit-and-get' to providing more empowerment for our students. More exploration and play. More student voice and choice. Less structured lessons. No more teacher created units. The book helped me empower my students to change and be a part of our community. I knew this shift was successful when I saw my students excitement and interest. They feel a sense of ownership. They are excited to learn about what THEY want to learn about. They love sharing. They love finding new ways to research. They love helping our school and community. My students who were less engaged are now engaged and excited to come to school. I am excited to come to school and see what the day holds.
I challenge you to read this book and find your tribe. If it's not this book, find a book that will push your thinking. That will raise questions and challenge what you know. You deserve to grow. Your students deserve it. Your school deserves it. Your community deserves it.
What School Could Be by ted Dintersmith
*Also check out his documentary Most Likely To Succeed (available on iTunes and amazon)
Empower by AJ Juliani and John Spencer
The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros
The Curious Classroom by Harvey Daniels
Timeless Learning by Ira Socol, Pam Moran, and Chad Ratliff
Dive Into Inquiry by Trevor Mackenzie