Last year at Open House, a parent asked me a question I don't think I'd been asked before: "What one book has impacted your teaching the most?"
I was caught off guard, and for a few moments, my brain whirred like a morning blender. Of course, I wanted to wow this dad with some wise book that would make me look good and get me out of this conversation. It's no secret that I love reading, but when it comes to teaching books, I'll be honest and say I've read very few.
Surprisingly to me, though, the book I came up with for that dad is still the book I would say now.
The book is called Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni. Curiously, it is a business book, not a teaching book. But it is also a leadership book...and a book about meetings.
Lencioni writes business fables. They are short little books, the first half of the story a fable, while the second half explains the meaning of the fable. The stories are interesting and feel real.
So how exactly did this little book impact my teaching?
The book is about meetings and what makes them good or not, and at their core, every classroom holds a meeting every day. Someone is leading it , and it's usually the teacher. And the business men and women, aka the students, sit and listen.
So what is the key to every good meeting?
Just like a good story. The key is to make our classrooms feel like a story, a journey, one with conflict.
We have to drop part of our agenda and replace it with conflict time. Allow the students to really disagree, respectfully ... with the ideas, with each other, and with us.
Those times when I don't remember this approach end up dull, drab lecture classes. The times I do remember end up a little more chaotic feeling but a lot more engaging. The students are involved because they like a good fight just as much as the rest of us humans.
So think about your upcoming week of lessons. Where can you schedule in some fighting time? Some conflict time?
Give it a shot. We'd love to hear your stories and thoughts and questions.
Photo Copyright by kev-shine (used with permission)