Monday, May 18, 2015

My Annual Book Study

Almost the entire school year has passed, which means that my vice-principal has declared that now is the perfect time for me to conduct my annual book study.  My annual book study began several years ago when I was the only ESOL teacher available at the whim of my principal who needed a name to put down for a Race to the Top grant. Apparently I received rave reviews and have been tapped on an annual basis ever since.  In reality, I do not mind conducting book studies.  In most cases, I am allowed to select the book (although this time Teach Like a Champion 2.0 was assigned to me) and I am not required to produce a massive amount of original content.  The book studies are voluntary, which helps foster a collaborative environment.  Here is what I learned about conducting book studies over the years:
  • Allow People To Talk: I rarely go through more than three PowerPoint slides without allowing participants to talk about a concept.  If I want participants to move around and find new people to talk with, I usually instruct them to find a someone wearing the same type of shoes, same color shirt, hail from the same area of the country or divide them into people who plan on cooking for their family after the event versus those who plan to hit the drive thru.  
  • Plan At Least One Group Activity: Chart paper and markers are staples when conducting book studies.  I usually have one group activity involving these items during each session.  This is either a warm-up activity or a gallery walk activity.  I often find these activities right in the book. If nothing else, the participants are amused by the way I pronounce "chart paper" and "markers" in my best New England accent.
  • Show Videos: Although I refrain from turning my book study into a film festival, I do show short video clips to illustrate concepts.  If I am a presenting a particularly dry concept, I even throw in a funny teacher cartoon or a carefully selected video of my dog.
  • Assign Homework: I encourage participants to try one of the concepts after each presentation.  I schedule time to debrief about the successes and challenges of integrating the concept into their lesson.  The participants find this to be particularly encouraging and motivating.
  • Find Out What Participants Want: As stated above, the book studies I conduct are open and voluntary for all staff members.  In order to draw a crowd, I tailor them to the needs of the participants.  Although I am not reimbursed, I also ask participants which snacks I can provide for them.  The participants appreciate this gesture and it helps me stay on schedule as participants are not constantly going back and forth to the vending machine.

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