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Jon Tait is currently Deputy Headteacher and Director of Teaching School in a large and diverse UK secondary school. As a classroom teacher, he has experience of working in three different schools for over 15 years. His current responsibility areas include leading on teaching and learning, professional development, behaviour and welfare. Jon regularly presents at TeachMeets and teaching conferences in the UK and internationally, including in New York, Ohio and Dubai.
Having really appreciated Tait’s book Teaching Rebooted which was an inspiring and well-resourced book, I was looking forward to another of his guides and I was not disappointed. The book is clearly written with short, punchy paragraphs, clear overviews, well paragraphed text, and a clever section at the end of each chapter for notes, reflections and further reading. (For just in case you do not get your first leadership role and need to remember a few key points for the next interview!) I love the practicality of this book. It is not all about theories and why you might be an inspiring leader, but how you might actually achieve it; The initial basics of getting the job, what to wear, how to plan your route and the first impressions you are likely to make. Each element of the process is clearly approached, from the hints to tackling the ‘in-tray task, to the likely people, both child and adult that you are likely to be questioned by on the day and, to acknowledge at interview, that the children’s comments and feedback will be a key factor in your success and to not underplay or patronise this important market. Once you have achieved your goal of achieving leadership, the book is equally well- sourced, with essential information, such as taking staff meetings, CPDs and the approach to duties and teaching. It also covers the less obvious elements of the job such as dealing with the wider community and the well- being and happiness of staff. There are clever little tips such as how to make quick wins that can increase confidence and respect from the staff, as he says, ‘it is important to get the staff on the bus.’ What I liked most was that it was a really good read, and even if you are not an aspiring leader, there are plenty of useful tips to take from his writing as to how to communicate, understand and empathise with people we work with. The only area I found not covered sufficiently, was how to step into leadership in an existing school, which is another minefield altogether and has its own different, and often difficult, challenges. Perhaps a little appendix on the next publication?
Using the science of learning to transform classroom practice | For anyone who likes scientific evidence and research to support why we teach in the way we do, or why we should change our approach, this is their perfect book. Each chapter is supported by laboratory tests, field work and educational studies combined with a wealth of incredibly, comprehensive support material. Teachers are constantly being challenged as to their approach to delivery and very often it appears as if we are being asked to reinvent the wheel for the sake of it. As Tait says in his introduction, ‘would you go to a hospital and be told by your surgeon that he is going try out a new medical procedure?' In the same way, teachers need to see evidence and proof of success. This book certainly goes a long way in providing this. The aim of the book, according to the author, is to provide an accessible, concise overview of the main research that underpins how we learn, which it certainly does. The book is divided into 10 chapters, each covering one significant topic in detail. The author does say the book can be read cover to cover or dipped in and out of. I would say this is quite hard to do as there is so much information and so many examples and ideas within each topic. However, the way the chapters are laid out do make this possible. The teaching tip for each topic, the key quotes in bold, combined with the introductory paragraph at the start does make the book more accessible for the time poor. An interesting addition to staff inset sessions and the staffroom bookshelf.