Five Great Reads

One of the great joys and best strategies for expanding your understanding is to engage with a great book. Fortunately the options available today are immense and electronic options and audio books make access easy and possible wherever you may be. Here is a short list of what I have been reading lately with some brief reflections. 

Assessing 21st Century Skills: A guide to evaluating mastery and authentic learning by Laura Greenstein

Having embraced teaching for 21st Century skills and with an understanding of the importance for preparing our children to thrive in a world of rapid change we are then confronted with how to assess these skills. Traditional assessment methodologies of post-tests and multiple choice exams will not meet the need and will do more harm than good. Students very quickly learn to align their efforts with what will be on the test and if the test requires little other than recall of information we should not be surprised if students resist modern teaching methods. This book will help you better understand the relationship between learning intentions and assessment strategies and reveal strategies which will ensure the focus remains on the essential elements of learning in the 21st Century.

Embedding Formative Assessment: Practical techniques for K-12 Classrooms by Dylan Wiliam and Siobhan Leahy

Interested in using assessment to enhance student learning? Looking to understand how assessment can be a powerful tool for learning rather than a strategy for ranking students? This book is a must read. From the guru of Formative Assessment or assessment for learning, Dylan Wiliam, this book gives clear strategies for transforming practice and placing learning and the learner at the centre of what we do. This book shows how assessment is a vital step for student growth and one that must be woven into the fabric of every lesson if it is to bring effective results. "Good formative assessment is not about keeping records of students’ achievements; it is about the minute by minute and day by day adjustment of your teaching” (Wiliam and Leahy)

Radical Candour: How to be a great boss without losing your humility by Kim Scott

By sharing her vast leadership experience and through highly engaging stories from the worlds of Google and Apple Kim Scott shows how bosses who care personally and challenge directly are able to build effective teams and create the conditions where people achieve their best. From building relationships, providing effective feedback, utilising highly effective communication strategies and understanding the effect you are having as a boss within your organisation this book guides you gently yet forcibly to being the great boss you wish you had. Infused with humour and humility this is a book you will devour and want to share. 

The Coaching Habit: Say less, ask more and change the way you lead forever by Michael Bungay Stainer

Looking for the right approach to that difficult conversation? Wanting to open up dialogue with your staff and understand what is causing them to behave the way they are? Are you finding that you are constantly playing the role of fireman in your organisation? The Coaching Habit provides a set of simple scripts that will transform the conversations you have and free you from constantly having to have the answer to every problem dropped in your lap. If you have a team to manage, if you are needing to unlock their potential and provide effective feedback this book should be hidden in your top drawer ready to be called upon at need. 

Sketchnotes for Educators by Sylvia Duckworth

Spend but a little time on Twitter and you are bound to find educators using the beautiful sketchnotes created by Sylvia Duckworth to illustrate their point. Beyond the insights offered by each image is the simple joy that the image bring. Sylvia’s talent is in representing complex ideas in a manner that makes them easy to understand without oversimplification. This is a book you will want to share and thanks to the links to downloadable versions of every image the possibilities for doing so are endless. Do not be surprised if you find yourself printing copies of Sylvia’s artworks to pin on staffroom walls. 

A bonus:

Top Ten Must Reads on . . . by HBR

If you subscribe to Audible you should check out the selection of 'Ten Must Reads' from Harvard Business Review. Each book presents a compilation of articles around the specified topic and each comes from the talent pool of Harvard's Business Review. Covering topics such as Leadership, Emotional Intelligence, Strategy and Change Management to name but a few and with authors that include John Kotter, Peter Drucker and Daniel Goleman these books will keep you reading or listening for hours.