Having been approached by several different publishers interested in seeing my name on a title in their collection, I’ve spent the better part of the past few years toying around with the idea of writing a book about teaching and learning.
The whole process has been a bit intimidating, actually. A book just seems so much more overwhelming than a blog—or the columns that I write for NSDC and Ed Leadership. Worse yet, I couldn’t figure out how to justify setting paid part time work aside to draft an entire manuscript.
Well—thanks to Solution Tree and Parry Graham, my persistent co-author—-I’m about to see a bunch of my ideas in print!
Solution Tree started the whole process by hiring me to write two chapters on assessment for their newest Associate Anthologies, titled The Teacher as Assessment Leader and The Principal as Assessment Leader. By offering to pay for my chapters—-something that few publishers do for anthology contributors—Solution Tree gave me the breathing room necessary to write for a living.
And I’m excited about the chapters I’ve written!
In The Teacher as Assessment Leader, I detail the work that I’ve done with a few of the colleagues on my professional learning team to make our curriculum standards more approachable for parents and students. While we’re constantly polishing our processes, this chapter is a practical look at the kinds of first steps that responsible teachers take when translating state standards documents into actionable tools that can encourage learning at the classroom level.
In The Principal as Assessment Leader, I tackle a topic that I’m asked about often: How can digital tools be used to help teachers collect, manipulate and analyzed classroom learning data. This chapter is a nuts-and-bolts kinda’ bit, arguing in favor of basic tools like Excel spreadsheets, handheld student responders, and districtwide formative assessment systems.
While it drifts from the “create, collaborate and communicate” message that I write about so often here on the Radical, it, too, is designed to be a practical introduction to the basic tools that learning teams need access to if they’re ever going to become data-driven organisms.
Easily the most exciting development in my professional writing life, however, is the full-length, real-live, bona fide book that I’ve co-authored with my brilliant friend Parry Graham—a principal at a local middle school. Titled Building a Professional Learning Community at Work, our title—built from our extensive experiences working with learning teams as members, supervisors, and consultants—serves as a guide to the common pitfalls that cause professional learning communities to stumble.
We work to show readers how effective mission and vision statements can provide a solid foundation for decision-making in buildings. We detail the kinds of action steps that teams take to work through conflict and to make communication efficient. We wrestle with data, push against assumptions about leadership, and share interesting and approachable research on the nature of human organizations.
Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Of course, Parry and I thought so—-it’s our work. We weren’t sure exactly how good our ideas were, though, until Rick DuFour, Rebecca DuFour and Bob Eaker—-three of our learning community heroes read our manuscript, gave it two thumbs up, and volunteered to write the introduction to our text!
(If they like it, we figure, our book has got to be at least halfway decent.)
Building a Professional Learning Community at Work is in the editing/pre-production stages right now. Parry and I just churned through about 100 hours worth of revisions and sent a final manuscript off to Solution Tree. They’re going to polish it to perfection with a plan to publish in September. Pre-ordering goes live in just a few weeks—-so if you’re interested in rolling around in our minds a bit more, get your credit cards ready!
Not a bad year’s work for a guy who is still “just a classroom teacher,” huh?!