No one ever told me that being a teacher would be easy. No one ever told me that being a teacher of English would be even harder though. Language is a complex thing -” the English language all the more so -” and in our constant pursuit of academic excellence in the classroom there are times when we fall short.
Reading David Didau's book, after being a loyal follower of his unmissable Learning Spy blog, I clenched my fist in victorious appreciation on several occasions when that light bulb of possibility flashed above me. Mr Didau breaks down the English Lesson into four perfect parts -” it is called `The Perfect English Lesson` after all -” and with it, clarifies the true nature of what we should be doing in the English classroom.
Despite being in the classroom for 13 years, I found myself scribbling down an idea on almost every page. David's short book describes the creative and challenging ways we should be engaging our students and advancing their knowledge and skills in English. It glows with enthusiasm and bounds with energy; but, most importantly, it is crammed with wonderful ideas and useable tips which will change your practice tomorrow.
It did for me. Yesterday, I changed my approach to starter activities and had visual learning journeys on the board as students came in. Increased focus and engagement from the word go. David walks the reader through the practical importance of Carol Dweck, Dylan Wiliam and a host of other educational big hitters but it his own creative approach, coupled with an insistence on high expectations and even higher standards in the learners in his classroom, which shines through in every sentence.
There are not many books like this around and, while being a small book, fills a very large hole admirably. More importantly it is a book which makes me want to be better.
For the newly qualified English teacher, this book is perfect. For the experienced English teacher, it is no less so. There's a wealth of experience within these pages, but also love, joy, and compassion from a classroom practitioner on whom we should all model ourselves. Perhaps if we follow his advice we may find ourselves falling short just a little less often.