Teachers and Good Books

Question 1

What are some ways by which nonreading staff members can be encouraged to read more information or books that pertain to their work?

I was reading an article, “What Makes a Great Teacher?” which summarized sixteen characteristics arrived at by participants of the 2008 Phi Delta Kappa Summit on High-Performing Educators. I believe at least seven involved reading in some way. They include:

  • has the ability to be flexible, optimistic, self-reflective, progressive, and innovative;
  • excites a passion for learning in his or her students through skillful facilitation, using twenty-first-century tools;
  • goes beyond the classroom as a collaborator with colleagues;
  • wants to improve himself or herself by learning good instructional skills;
  • is someone who knows the curriculum and works well as part of a team;
  • builds relationships and facilitates lifelong learning; and
  • recognizes and adapts when he or she isn’t getting through to students.

Every teacher needs to be a lifelong learner. Professional development can be an avenue of educators learning together. Administrators need to be readers who find articles and books that encourage teachers in their practice. Just putting materials in the hands of a teacher is not enough. There has to be a designated, structured time for professional development built into the teachers’ work week.

Even so, teachers may not find time to read the articles on their own time prior to coming together for learning. This situation is a good opportunity to teach and use reading strategies that can be used in the classroom at any level while at the same time having teachers become aware of ideas that are new or need to be reinforced. Students at any level appreciate having a book read to them, provided it is done with expression. Ask a teacher who demonstrates these skills to read the article aloud and then identify what makes the reader capture one’s attention. Identify opportunities to use this in the classroom. Use paired reading, not only to teach the skill, but to learn what the article is about. Share what was learned from the article and also how the content of the article as well as the strategy can be implemented in the classroom. Use before reading, during reading and after reading strategies (e.g. comprehension skills, guided reading, outlining, summarizing, fast writes, response journals) to remind teachers that reading strategies can be used as a teaching tool in every area of learning. In the context of learning and sharing with their colleagues, teachers read the article, are exposed to, or have reinforcement of teaching strategies which can be used in the classroom. Maybe this will spark spontaneous shared learning at a future time.

Work Cited 

  • Young, Erin. “What Makes a Great Teacher?” Phi Delta Kappan 90 (2009): 438–439.


Question 2

As a teacher I understand that I am supposed to teach my students certain subjects and concepts according to state standards and curriculum. What if there is a concept such as particular math lesson or a sports skill that more than half of the class can’t seem to grasp? Do I continue on to the next unit once that unit is finished even though I know my students don’t get it, or do I keep working on that particular unit until they get it? If I continue on with the old unit, how do I continue on with the other units without having to play catch-up? [This is only part of the article. Want to read more? Subscribe to the website by choosing "Register" from the menu above. It's free!]