The book that changed my 2016

It was never going to be a one night stand. The moment I opened up the plain covers and saw what lay beneath I knew this was going to be one of those long and meaningful relationships that would stand the test of time. I didn’t set out looking for love, just something to pass the time, just an inbetweener, but the fates had other plans.

I was heading off for an afternoon meeting in a school on the their side of the county and I suspected that I would end up getting there too early and having time to kill. I was passing our schools CPD book shelf and decided to pick something up to keep me busy while I was waiting. My heart sank. There was a collection of garishly coloured covers with whimsical titles or ones promising “A hundred fun ways to do X” or to “Teach like a Y”. One may even have suggested to “Go swivel on a Z” but whatever the titles they were books I had picked up in the past and discarded in disgust or boredom. Then at the end of the row something caught my eye. A thick hardback book in cream covers with simple line illustrations that didn’t scream “read me” but which subtly suggested it might be a good idea if one did. On a shelf of hussies here was a little bit of understated class.

Make Every Lesson Count has had more impact on my teaching than not just any other book but any CPD session as well. Unlike many books on teaching it is more than a compilation of strategies to engage students – instead it is a complete system to ensure that you get the most out of every lesson for your students. It doesn’t get bogged down in the traditional vs progressive debate, or hector you about the authors’ opinions, instead it does what most real teachers do and synthesises the best from both stances. It draws together the work of people like Didau, Christadoulou and Willingham with that of those like Ron Berger.

I think the thing that has stayed with me over the last year is that at the heart of the book is the simple idea that lessons are there to challenge students and that pupils must be supported to engage in deliberate and careful practice if they are to make progress.

I have reread this book half a dozen times over the last year and it has led to a real revitalising of my teaching. As a result of this book I have gone on to read a whole host of other books that have added to my confidence as a teacher and leader, I have planned and led CPD and got some of the best outcomes of my career for my students. In the unlikely event you haven’t yet discovered this book I would urge you to make it your priority for 2017.


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