It may not seem so fashionable these days but have you ever considered asking your small work team to read the same book? Reading is not everybody’s ‘cup of tea’ but it can provide a bonding experience and provide a platform for discussion. If we want our students to read it can be great for our students to see your book amongst your class preparation material. I find that there are always a number of students keen to ask questions about our reading.
Of course it can be difficult to sustain the effort to read a book relatively quickly during the course of a busy school term. However for those who have ever been part of a book club you would know the benefit that comes from meeting to discuss the book.. it provides a goal but more importantly doing something together builds teams as well as insight. There is no reason why older students should not join staff at if more than one meeting is used to discuss the book.
Books, written well, can be great resources for parents as well. It can be a relatively non-threatening way of giving them food for thought or it might help deal with that almost impossible question that parents sometimes ask ‘What can I do?’
The books listed here can be bought through any book supplier but I have found Fishpond the cheapest for most of my acquisitions. You may have to plan a couple of weeks ahead but I have found them useful because good books can be obtained at very reasonable prices and if bought as a group can be given out as presents. If you have a small team, book reading and the discussion that accompanies it can be a very good way of conducting some excellent PD at very reasonable costs ($15.00/person).
Tim Flannery: Here on Earth
Here on Earth “explores our true relationship with the planet on which our biological, economic and cultural futures depend”. Tim, now Professor Tim Flannery, is our Chief Climate Commissioner. This is a great book to inspire staff to consider the place of sustainability in your school curriculum. Since sustainability is a Cross-curriculum Priority in the new Australian Curriculum it could be a useful place for a cross-curricular teaching team to begin. Or why not encourage your Environment Group to take on the challenge of reading it?
Professional Standards: National Standards for Teachers: 2 Know Content and How to Teach it 2.1, 2.9
Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
By Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen, Roger Fisher
Good communication skills underpin good team relationships. However it is often assumed that teachers have good communications skills. However staff rooms and work groups in schools often ‘come undone’ because this basic skill is missing. This book not only deals with active listening skills but provides a good framework for developing listening skills further. Parents struggling with communication breakdown will enjoy this book.
How to Deal with Teachers Who are Angry, Troubled, Exhausted, or Just Plain Confused
This book may have some conservative management theory embedded in it but it also has a few surprises. In the section “How Administrators Sap their Teachers’ Energy”, good administrators will find food for thought.