“Teachers as learners” is a phrase that doesn’t even begin to describe the hours of classes and training sessions teachers go through every year. School districts require training on curriculum, technology, and new issues facing the profession. States require that classes be taken for renewal of certificates. Teachers don’t just teach, but spend many, many hours in classes themselves.
So after my medical leave of absence last year, I told myself that I would be very careful to NOT overextend my energies this year by signing up for lots of classes (although I do have to complete 150 “clock hours” in order to renew my teaching certificate in 3 years…and now that I’m teaching 2nd grade, I am also required by the State of Washington to take 10 hours of training on the DIBELS test).
But then I discovered that my school district is offering a number of new classes this year that will fulfill some of those required hours, and those classes are set up like book clubs. We will all read a specific book and then meet for discussion. Perfect! So I signed up for two different classes. My October/November class focuses on the book The Explosive Child, by Ross W. Greene. Dr. Greene’s work is on disruptive behavior disorders, and how to better understand what those behaviors mean and how to help children struggling with them to “develop the skills needed to be more flexible and to handle frustration more adaptively.”
For my December/January class, we will read Songs of the Gorilla Nation, by Dawn Prince-Hughes, a book which focuses on Autism. In this memoir, Prince-Hughes “traces her personal growth from undiagnosed autism to the moment, as a young woman, when she entered the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle and became immediately fascinated with the gorillas. By observing them and, later, working with them, Prince-Hughes was finally able to emerge from her solitude and connect to living beings in a way she had never previously experienced.”
The information in both these books should be very valuable to me as a teacher. I like the “book club” format and this way of increasing my knowledge of important issues facing teachers today, and I hope to learn some new strategies that will help me be more effective in helping individual students in my classroom.