The new school year is approaching. For some teachers, its arrival feels sloth-like as their anticipation grows for the happy buzz of students in the hallways, the scratch of chalk on the blackboard, and the stacks of new workbooks on the desks. For other teachers, summer has slipped by a little too quickly, and their summer to-do lists still have a few too many unchecked boxes.
But either way, the new school year is coming. And as teachers, we want to be ready.
Undoubtedly, this school year will stretch us. It will contain joys and struggles that we cannot yet foresee. It will challenge us in ways we can’t even imagine.
One fabulous way to prepare ourselves for the unknown battles and glories before us is to immerse our minds in the wisdom of others and open our hearts to the ways God may want to use their experiences to prepare us. And what better way to do that than by reading a book?
The following are three books about teaching that I have found especially helpful at different points in my teaching career. Perhaps one of them may be just what you need to challenge your mind and prepare your heart for the unique experiences you will face in the coming year.
The Seven Laws of the Learner by Bruce Wilkinson
When you first pick it up, don’t let the size of this book scare you off. Wilkinson’s writing is accessible, easy-to-follow, and compelling. This book is packed with interesting stories from Wilkinson’s own experiences. He challenges teachers to master seven time-tested principles to improve their teaching and widen their impact. These principles, or laws, will give you advice on how to improve your teaching of academics as well as your relationship with your students. The Seven Laws of the Learner will remind you that teaching has an eternal impact on souls and will give you a new vision for how to do that in the coming year.
Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov
For those of you who love practical books, Teach Like a Champion is your dream come true. Depending on whether you read the original version, the 2.0 version, or the new 3.0 version; you’ll be introduced to forty-nine, sixty-two, or sixty-three practical teaching techniques. Each technique is explained clearly and in a way that makes it feel possible to implement yourself. It is worth noting that these books are written from a secular perspective, and the stated goal of the techniques is to “put students on the path to college.” This may seem strange because in most Anabaptist schools, creating college-bound students is not the all-encompassing goal of education. However, it is true that the same techniques that prepare students for college are techniques that will hone your teaching to be more effective—and that should be a goal of teachers in any setting. This book encourages teachers to employ habits that will strengthen your teaching and help your students learn better. Adding to the practicality of this book is the included access to video clips of real teachers in real classrooms implementing these techniques in real time. Teach Like a Champion contains advice that will help you to be a stronger communicator, help your classroom to be better managed, and push your students to take responsibility for their own learning.
Reclaiming the Future of Christian Education by Albert E. Greene
For everyone who balked slightly at the last book’s description because you prefer reading philosophical ideas over practical advice, this is the book for you. Delving into the intellectual and philosophical foundation of Christian schools, this book aims to transform your thinking. Greene begins by stating that much of Christian education is only marginally different from its secular counterparts. He goes on to argue that Christian schools are missing the mark until believers receive a renewed vision of what Christian education should look like. He overviews the cultural and philosophical history of education, helping the reader to gain a picture of how Christian schools got to where they are today. He then outlines a proper Christian philosophy and how that will impact every part of teaching. Greene paints a truly beautiful picture of the richness and depth of God at work in His world, then draws a clear connection to teaching being the work of reveling in His revelation. Reclaiming the Future of Christian Education has the power to transform not only your teaching but also your whole way of looking at life.
When we open our minds to the wisdom of others through reading, we give God a unique opportunity to prepare us for what He is calling us to in the coming year. Perhaps these books can be a source of His work of preparation in your heart.
CONTRIBUTOR: Meghan Brubaker