This post was originally published on Middleweb.com.
Education for a New Generation of Learners
I have one complaint about this book – its title. The word “new” in the title may be confusing enough to discourage veteran teachers from reading it, even assuming the publisher and author intend it to mean “a new revolution in teaching” and not “a revolution for new teachers.” Although Josh Stumpenhorst, known on twitter as @stumpteacher, does include new teachers in his audience, this book is an excellent read for all teachers who want to improve their practice and have an impact on changing education for the better.
He begins the book with the idea that the world has changed, but that education has not really changed since the industrial revolution, and carries this theme for his new “revolution” throughout the book. He emphasizes that even in areas where change is not welcomed with open arms individual teachers can make small changes in their own classrooms that will have a tremendous impact on the students in the class (p. 92) and that “A revolution of ideas and pedagogy is in order if we want to be prepared to adequately change teaching to meet the needs of a new generation of learners” (p.92).
Taking it to the classroom
Clear discussion, ideas, resources, and reflection questions are provided on a number of topics in education that individual teachers can impact. These include chapters on Progressive Classroom Management; Rethinking Motivation (including ideas on innovation days/passion time/genius hour); The Family Dynamic (how to change how we interact with parents/families); Technology as a Linchpin to Change (using tech to help students be engaged and create and have an authentic audience); Distractions Ahead (not to get pulled into the new, shiny trends); Education Traditions (and how to change them, including grading and homework), and Evolving Practice (how we can become the agents of change).
The revolutionary educator
Each chapter provides an easy to follow description of the current state of education, how that is not working, and specifics on things that teachers can do to change this in their own classroom. These changes will lead in turn “to a conversation” with other teachers who want to know about what the new things they are doing, and this in turn will ignite a grassroots revolution in education.
Stumpenhorst emphasizes that for these changes to take place and to improve education for the next generation of learners, teachers need to be reflective, open-minded to other approaches, and receptive and responsive to criticism. In his chapter on Evolving Practice, Stumpenhorst gives us clear suggestions on how to be this type of educator, to improve our own teaching and, as agents of change, to “start the conversation” with other educators, including being connected to other like-minded educators outside of our schools and districts.
The New Teacher Revolution is full of great ideas and resources to be connected and to continue improving your teaching. I would definitely recommend this book to all teachers, not just new ones.