A book that cries out to be devoured whilst simultaneously offering ideas to last the full academic year and beyond, How to Teach: English is a bible of English teaching. With a shift in education that has moved us away from -˜doing' and towards -˜learning', Chris' book offers practical advice on every page, handily categorised into key areas of the English classroom. It becomes a go-to book when designing the larger aspects of English teaching, such as the curriculum itself, but also the minute details of sentence construction. No book that I have read does this so successfully, posing larger questions about the concepts of English teaching and offering a plethora of activities which will accelerate student progress.
The impact of Chris' book goes beyond my own classroom. Throughout our department we have used the 200-word writing challenge to engage our learners in writing, build their writing speed, and develop their creative responses. The breakdown of analytical writing, and discussion over use of adverbs, has also been implemented across our department, with a focus on analytical adverbs for students ready to begin essay writing -“ and ensuring that written responses become more sophisticated and precise. Finally, Chris' approaches to Shakespeare in particular have enhanced my own teaching of Macbeth, a text I feel knowledgeable about, but with his varied strategies I have ensured students of all abilities can engage with the text. By breaking down Shakespeare's language, structural and thematic choices using Chris' -˜one simple PowerPoint' concept, I have been able to repeatedly engage students in methods in an accessible and appropriate way.
As a teacher of eight years, I found myself nodding at every page, but also asking myself -˜Why hadn't I thought of that?' I have recommended the book to everyone in my department, because I believe it is something that any teacher can gain ideas from -“ for trainees, NQTs, and well-established and experienced teachers. Chris' humour and honesty is also offered on every page; you can sense trial and error in each activity, and honest reflection on why each idea works. This is what makes it a bible of teaching, written by someone who loves their profession and the intricacies of teaching in the English classroom.