Five reads for September

For teachers in Australia, the long Term Three is drawing rapidly to a close. Indeed as I write this just ten days remain before a two-week break. This is the perfect time to consider a holiday reading list. Just enough time to raid the school library or place an order with your favourite book store. Here is what’s currently occupying space on my nightstand.


1. Limitless Mind: Learn, lead and live without barriers by Jo Boaler

Boaler’s new book is high on my reading list. Having gained so much from previous books including “Mathematical Mindset”, “The Elephant in the Classroom” and the hugely practical “Mindset Mathematics” series, this book is highly anticipated. The question to be answered is does this book build a compelling case that anyone can learn anything. Do our beliefs about intelligence and ability hinder our capacity to learn and might we be limiting the learning our children are capable of?


2. Transformational Professional Learning: Making a difference in schools by Deborah Netolicky

We have all sat through professional learning that leaves us wishing we could wind back time and retrieve the hours we just lost. Why does so much professional learning fail to transform our practice? Why is it that within a profession that is all about teaching and learning, we get it so wrong when it comes to professional learning. As a practising academic who comfortably straddles the boundary between the practical world of the classroom and the informative space of academia, Deborah is well placed to offer insights with impact.


3. In Search of Deeper Learning: The quest to remake the American High School by Jal Mehta and Sarah Fine

Join with the authors on this tour of American High Schools as they unpack why some schools are delivering pockets of deep learning, but few if any, have found a model that truly works. This is not the usual banner-waving with stories of transformative practice. This book is deep dive into the pedagogy and curriculum of schools which claim to be delivering deep learning and look at the truth behind the claims. If education is going to transform itself, we need to be able to honestly assess what is working and what is not. Bold claims about school transformation are easily made; this book uncovers a more complex reality.


4. Nuance: Why some leaders succeed and others fail by Michael Fullan

“The more complex the problem, the more that people with the problem must be part and parcel of the solution.” Schools are particularly complex places; an observation that would not surprise anyone who has spent much time in one. Large organisations which exist to serve a diverse population in varying stages of development and with hugely differing needs and wants is bound to result in near chaos levels of complexity. Leadership in schools, therefore, needs to be adept at managing this complexity. In “Nuance”, Michael Fullan unpacks the leadership style that schools and education require. This is a book that every teacher should read. Don’t leave it on the shelf for the Principal to read. Every teacher has a part to play in school leadership, and an understanding of nuanced leadership will enhance the impact we can all have.


5. The Power of Making Thinking Visible: Using routines to engage and empower learners by Ron Ritchhart and Mark Church

If you are making use of visible thinking routines, if you have read “Making Thinking Visible” or “Creating Cultures of Thinking”, you will be waiting for this new release by Project Zero’s Ron Ritchhart and Mark Church. The big enticement is the promise of 21 new thinking routines which will bring new ways of making thinking routine in our classrooms. Beyond this, the book promises to explore the ongoing research behind why visible thinking is a powerful tool for learning. “Exclusive to this book will be a careful examination of what it means to engage and empower students as learners working with big ideas, reaching into the world to take action, and collaborating with others.”

By Nigel Coutts