Last night, I decided it was time to start my yearly re-read and decided to pick up the third book. The first two are more about classroom management and how to set up your routine, while the last book is more about best practices in math. "Motivation Counts" was published in 1994 and while I was reading it, it really struck me how slow education is to embrace change in our teaching methods. Other than the fancy technology that now populates classrooms, I would venture to guess that most classrooms have the same structure that they did 50+ years ago. Even with the research on best practices, how to engage learners, teachers that fully agree that change needs to occur, it is sometimes so overwhelming that we quickly fall back into old habits and comfortable routines. We tend to teach the way we were taught by teachers who taught the way they were taught by teachers... (rinse, repeat).
Here's the quote that got me: (remember, this book is close to 20 years old now)
Lesson plans for the traditional classroom routine, as you can see from this list, detail *my* activities; they do not include what *the students* should be doing during class....
..In a recent television interview, a CEO in a major industry cited the main objectives for our schools as follows:
...it is very obvious that what industry wants, and what the traditional rountine offers, are not at all compatiable - or even complementary. Industry wants involved, active thinkers who can work together and deal creatively with the unexpected....
- Teach problem-solving experiences and skills.
- Teach communication skills.
- Teach students how to learn.
- Teach students how to work effectively as a team member.
- Give students an ability to handle change.
I think most of us know and agree with the above and even strive to accomplish those goals. For years, this quote has really hit me in the gut. I know I start the school year with big plans, but as reality sets in, it can be easy to fall back on that traditional routine where *I* am doing the work and the students sit back passively. I find it wild, though, that today's goals are still what they were 20 years ago and that little progress has been made in changing what a traditional math classroom looks like.
I can easily say that, of all the professional books I've read through the years, this trio of books have had the most profound influence on me as a teacher. Even though I've read these books numerous times, they never fail to inspire me and make me think about how to be more effective in the classroom.
What is your must-read book for teachers?