Professional Learning Library

Well there’s only four more weeks left of term 4, which also marks four more weeks left at Davidson High School. I’m starting to get a bit nervous and a bit sad. It’s going to be so hard to leave my great friends at Davo – especially my English teacher colleagues. When I first arrived at Davo I was 25 years old and my youngest son was only 5 months old! Now I’m leaving at the age of 34, and my youngest son is 10. It’s all kinds of crazy! Anyway, this post is not about crying, so I’m going to stop thinking about what I will be missing and start thinking about what great new things I will be learning and experiencing!

My new role is all about teacher professional learning – how cool is that? If you read my blog regularly you’ll know that TPL is my passion, because learning is awesome and so is teaching. One of the first things I want to do is to establish a ‘Professional Learning Library’ for myself and my colleagues. Of course I will spend a lot of time introducing them to social media (Twitter being the world’s biggest staffroom) but I also know the value of the stillness and focus that comes from reading a book. As such, I want to buy some titles that are guaranteed to inspire my new colleagues to think in new ways and to try new things.

My question to you is this: What books have you read that have inspired you to think in new ways about your role as a teacher and to try new things with your classes?

All suggestions are welcome – even if they are books that are not necessarily ‘education’ books – so they might be about innovation, design, creativity, architecture, technology, leadership, managing change etc. If you could comment below with the name or names of the suggested books and brief description of why I should get it, that would be awesome. I’m hoping to get to reading a number of the books myself these holidays – especially any suggested books on leadership and gifted and talented education.

Thanks a billion everyone! 🙂


22 thoughts on “Professional Learning Library

  1. Hi Bianca. I love ‘Revisit, Reflect, Retell’ by Linda Hoyt. Mightn’t be the kind of book you’re after, but I just find it so practical and full on great strategies. It’s aim more so at primary teachers, but I’ve still had a lot of use out of it in a secondary context. My school purchased it as part of our Focus on Reading TPL. All the best at your new school!

  2. Hi Bianca On my desk right now, and I recommend it to everyone who stands still long enough Ron Berger’s An Ethic of Excellence. Instructive, challenging and deeply moving. My second purchase would definitely be James Paul Gee The Anti-Education Era. An instruction manual for all educators, and all humans. by-line should be How to un-fuck the world. Very best wishes for your new role!

  3. Hi Bianca,
    I enjoyed reading Amanda Ripley’s “The Smartest Kids in the World”. It has convinced me of the need to move to Finland! I learnt a lot about education systems around the world, and because of the personal experiences of ‘exchange’ students in the book, it was less like reading a text book 🙂

  4. High Impact Instruction by Jim Knight has inspired me to consider how we can effectively support teachers via instructional coaching, targeted professional learning and collective accountability for student learning.

  5. Dylan Wiliam, ‘Embedded Formative Assessment’ and Du Four et. al. ‘Learning by Doing’. I’ve also just been lent Patterson et. al. ‘Crucial Conversations’ by my Principal and have been exploring cognitive coaching further (through articles though, not books).

  6. Hi Bianca

    I’m bookmarking this page, so I can keep an eye on what others recommend!

    In terms of actual classroom impact, I recommend Making Thinking Visible by Ron Ritchhart et al. Understanding how to create a real culture of thinking in the classroom can be huge. I’ve just read Choice Words, an easy read by Peter Johnston, on how our choice of language in the classroom influences learning. It ties in well with the visible thinking stuff.

    Agree about Jim Knight – I’m reading Instructional Coaching.

    On change – Why School by Will Richards and Creating Tomorrow’s Schools Today by Richard Gerver.

    That’ll do for now 🙂

    • Some really great suggestions so far. I hope more come in, particularly around design, creativity and entrepreneurship. That will inspire my new colleagues, I think. I might start a book club and buy some kindles to use. What do you think?

  7. Oh and also: “Make Just One Change” (Teaching Learners to ask their own questions.) Rothstein & Santana. A practical meditation on letting go of control – bit scarey, but so far.. seems to work..
    A Kindle library could be good unless people just forget to returnem. I think you can loan books from Kindle to Kindle but haven’t actually done it?? Could you run a library like this?

  8. Here is a list of what I have read this year, not all directly pedagogical, but all inspirational:
    – Too Big To Know by David Weinberger – understanding that we can’t actually understand
    – It’s Complicated by Danah Boyd – appreciating digital teens
    – Mindsets by Carol Dweck – the notion that there are two mindsets, fixed and growth
    – David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell – success is not always what you think it is
    – Smarter Than You Think by Clive Thompson – benefits of digital on our lives (and education)
    – The Finnish Lessons by Pasi Sahlberg – for a perspective about what is possible
    Hope that helps …

      • I realised that I left off a few eBooks too:
        – Tribes & Stop Stealing My Dreams both by Seth Godin – that motivating voice that we all need
        – The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies by Doug Belshaw – really made me rethink technology and literacy
        Congrats on your new position too. Exciting times.

  9. Hi Bianca and congrats on your new role. You’ll be perfect for it.

    I second Edna’s plug for Making Learning Visible. In addition, I recommend Futurewise by David Perkins (just released in 2014). While most books focus on the ‘how’ of teaching, Perkins zeroes in on the ‘what’.

    I also highly recommend Teaming by Amy Edmondson. We are basing a Heads of Department retreat around it this March.



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