As an English teacher, I read a lot of books. I love books and I love it when my students love books. I own a kindle and all sorts of bookish capabilities on other electronic devices, but for me there’s nothing like a real paper copy of a really good book.
In the past 24 hours I have been blown away by one such book. I started reading ‘Learn Like a Pirate’ by Paul Solarz, and I can honestly say it is probably the best teaching book I have ever read. It will without a doubt change my classroom more than any other single influence since my NQT year (which was definitely longer ago than I like to remember).
The book gives a series of amazingly practical doable strategies for handing more control in the classroom to the students. Yes, I know it sounds a bit mad, but trust me, read it. You will be hooked.
There are some that would say a student run classroom would not work for my students. All my students have a diagnosis of Autism, most have challenging behaviours and some have traits of Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDD). Yet it is precisely for that reason, why I know this book will take our room to the next level. My students, more than any, need the opportunities to practice the 21st Century Skills that Paul Solarz talks of in his book, they need to be believed in and for us to physically show them just how much we believe in them. This is a book that provides both the structure and encouragement to help us to do just that.
It is a book that will help all teachers take differentiation to the next level. It is a book that recognises students’ differences and celebrates them. It is a book which promotes empathy, compassion and respect for each other. It’s a book that quite simply every teacher should read.
It isn’t a book full of woolly concepts and no substance. It’s a flexible action plan, that makes you believe both you and your students can do it. Go on buy yourself a book, what have you got to lose?