(Re)reading this summer

I haven’t done quite as much professional reading this summer as normal. Mainly that’s because of a certain toddler who had urgent games to play in time periods when I’d normally be able to do some. I’m not complaining, just recognising the difference.

On top of that, most of my reading this year has been re-reading things I’d skimmed or read during the year. I wanted to make sure that I’d really understood the messages and that I was going to be in a better position to embed what I’d been reading.
First up is a book I read in early 2012 that lots of people have been talking about but that I wanted to revisit. Mindset by Carol Dweck is a really interesting and engaging book. We have been talking a lot about Growth Mindsets vs Fixed Mindsets over the past year and it was helpful to revisit her work and be reminded of the fundamental thinking on the topic straight from the horse’s mouth. It’s reminded me again and again, as a parent and teacher, to make sure that I praise the process and the aspects that are under personal control rather than innate qualities. Still picking myself up on this!
Second, is a book I reviewed last summer here. 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions – I really love this book and like the structure for making the most of discussions. I like the way it encourages the building of the narrative and how the responsibility for this lies with the teacher. I was also challenged by a short section on how to make a permanent record of the lesson and loved the phrase ‘learning residue’. David Didau and others have been talking a lot about learning what you think about and effective Mathematics discussions definitely facilitate deep and meaningful thinking. Having students write down a key thought or sentence as a discussion ends would be a great plenary!
I know that this book is very American and some people don’t find it applies well in a British context but I really enjoy Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov. Harry Fletcher Wood got to visit some KIPP schools in action last year and I was fascinated to hear about what it looks like in action when viewed from a British perspective. When I reread this book, I was reminded of key things that I can improve on and really value recapping on those as we go in to the new school year.
The Together Teacher by Maia Heyck-Merlin is a book which I was surprised to enjoy reading last year and recapping on this summer. I’m a bit of a productivity geek but as a husband with (almost) two small boys, a busy classroom, lots of shared classes and whole school responsibilities, those skills become more and more important to nail down. I really like the structures to make sure you don’t forget things and to have systems set up that you can trust so you don’t panic that you have forgotten. I’m keeping these systems going and trying to find the best tools for those that don’t involve paper.
Lastly then, Key Ideas in Teaching Mathematics by Anne Watson, Keith Jones and Dave Pratt. If you haven’t picked up a copy of this book, I’d highly recommend it. For each of the key ideas that it covers it explores the progression from age 9 to 16, the relevant research and teaching approaches. I’ve found that the quality of my explanations on some of the topics covered has definitely picked up and my links between some of the different areas have been reinforced as I’ve read. There is a great website that has most of the content covered in the book here.

That’s about it. I’ve been in my classroom today trying to get it sorted – all of my display boards had been stripped over the summer and I was trying to get those back up again. Frustratingly, my staple gun ran out and I couldn’t find recharges that fit anywhere in the school. Ah well, I’ll keep going next week. For now, I’m going to enjoy the last few days of the summer holidays including a camping trip this weekend with 5 almost 2 year olds – what could go wrong with that?


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