One of the great myths about teachers is that they do not work during the summer. Certainly teachers at schools that have recognized the need for classes to meet more than the magic number of 180 days, or year-round schools, would loudly disagree with this perception that is rooted in the outdated way in which the American school year was designed around the farming calendar (see also “The Myths of Having Summers Off” from Edutopia).
But in fact, the most dedicated teachers and school leaders need summer days to engage in what might be both considered a luxury as well as a necessity to advance their thinking about teaching and learning. The opportunity for uninterrupted time to read, to learn from others, and then to return to school with new lenses in which to design their programs, classes and work with each individual student is important professional development for teachers and school leaders.
So, what is on the CTTL’s Summer reading list to enhance individual teacher’s understanding of Mind, Brain, and Education (MBE) Science research? The exciting news is that there continues to be a growing body of literature from various stakeholders in education: teachers, researchers, and policymakers that are translating MBE research into actionable strategies that teachers’ and students’ work should be informed by.
The CTTL’s hypothesis is that until teachers and school leaders understand how the brain learns, works, and changes, each individual student will not meet his or her full potential. We also have learned from our work with public, public-charter, state and private schools in the United States and abroad that few teachers have met our threshold for foundational knowledge, skills, and mindsets in MBE Science. Reading is a great next step to close the gap between where teachers and school leaders currently are in their MBE Science professional development journey and where they should be. Let us know what you are reading on twitter @thecttl and we welcome you to sign-up for a free subscription to the CTTL’s monthly newsletter “The Bridge”.
Neuroteach: Let’s get the obvious, self-serving selection out of the way. Neuroteach was written by the Director and the Head of Research for the CTTL. So, while this suggestion is 100% biased, it is also 100% serving what many teachers are yearning for, a book written by classroom teachers that seeks to translate research into next day applications. The idea for Neuroteach was inspired by Toni Morrison who once wrote, “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.”
Learn Better: Ulrich Boser’s hot off the press book validates what we have come to learn about memory (thanks Peter Brown, Mark McDaniel, and Henry Roediger for Make It Stick). It provides strategies for students, teachers, parents, and policymakers to better think about the science behind learning and its implications for the daily lives of students and how we think about the future of teaching, learning, and schools.
Making Good Progress? This book was recommended by our friends in the U.K. who lead EvidencedBased Education. Simply put, they said this is their “go to” for rethinking of assessment. That was enough for us to buy it, read it, and begin to consider it in how we think about assessment for our students at St. Andrew’s.
Overloaded and Unprepared: While this is the oldest book on our list (published in 2015) it was very influential as our school undertook an analysis and revision of its daily schedule this year. It forced us to address the question: “How do schools set a high and appropriately challenging academic bar while being mindful of students’ well-being and anxiety levels?” We also had the privilege of meeting with Dr. Pope at Stanford earlier in 2017 and we left thinking that if teachers and school leaders have not yet read her book, then they should.
Leadership for Teacher Learning: We first became familiar with Dylan William’s work through researchEd and have found his work to be a much-needed lens into thinking about teaching and, in the case of this book, leadership.
Clever Lands: We have been awaiting the arrival of this book ever since we saw Lucy Crehan present at the Wellington College Festival of Education in 2015. Lucy’s on the ground research and lived in experiences with teachers in countries like Finland, Japan, and Singapore will force all readers out of a local, state, or even national thinking about education. Cleverlands is a reminder that the evidence base for teachers, school leaders, and policymakers is a global one and we can look beyond our shores to find evidence of what works to enhance teacher quality and student learning. If only we all had the courage, and time, to take a journey like Lucy’s.
The ABCs of How We Learn: Before reading this book from a team at Stanford University led by Dr. Daniel Schwartz, Jessica Tsang, and Kristen Blair, a fun challenge would be to consider what you or your colleagues think each of the letters of the alphabet will stand for. Then check your work by diving into this very accessible book that will provide you with 26 fresh ways to look at your teaching and learning and your school.
Visible Learning in Action: While not the most recent of Hattie’s books, the case studies are a great way to look at his larger meta-studies. We finally had the chance to observe Dr. Hattie present at the 2017 Learning & the Brain Conference in San Francisco. While hearing first-hand about his research methods and conclusions was exciting, so was his “Kenny Rogers” approach to teaching and learning strategies.
The Teaching Brain: We quickly became a fan of Dr. Rodriguez’s work as she forced us to give as much consideration to each individual teacher’s brain as educators give each individual student’s brain. Dr. Rodriguez’s book grew out of her doctoral work at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and Dr. Kurt Fischer’s dynamic skill theory model.
Emotions, Learnings, and the Brain: One of the most important Mind, Brain, and Education science concepts that teachers and school leaders need to be informed by is the connection between emotion and cognition. That is what makes Dr. Immordino-Yang’s book so important. It is incredibly well-researched and includes the opening chapter, “Why Emotions Are Integral to Learning,” which should be required reading for educators. This book is equally important as we consider both the student learner and the adult learner within all educational settings.
Some interesting research papers:
There is scant time for teachers and school leaders to read research studies during the flow of the school year. Most teachers do not have the training to read research articles, and one article read out of context of the field of research as a whole is a dangerous activity we should avoid. But in the same way we ask students to stretch themselves to take on achievable difficulties, teachers should use the summer to work their way through ONE meta-study that aggregates and discusses multiple studies in one area. Here are some of our very accessible suggestions and pass ones you like along to us.
- Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning
- Neuroscience and Education: A Review of Educational Interventions and Approaches Informed by Neuroscience
- Education Research Highlights