This is a great book. I could have done with this at every stage of my career.
It is grounded in common sense, firmly rooted in the realities of the classroom, triangulated with some great researchers and thinkers both in education and beyond. From Socrates, to Berger, Lemov, Dweck, Willingham, Lemov, Heath, drawing on the expertise of the colleagues they work with and above all their own experience, it is all here. And it's beautifully illustrated by Jason Ramasani.
What is so impressive about this text is that it peels back some of the conventional -˜wisdom', for example on differentiation. In their skilled hands they show how far this is from preparing different worksheets for different groups of students. Instead, they show how to differentiate through questions, precise feedback in the classroom and above all through showing what excellence looks like. And they dispose of that superficial notion of differentiating through lesson objectives being expressed as -˜most, all, some.' Instead, they propose setting expectations high and response to genuine needs as they arise. -˜You experiment with the most suitable strategy to hoist each individual child up'. Not easy, but worth it.
And they make excellence work visible, not just in the classroom but around the school. Mounting work in frames both celebrates and showcases what is possible. Similarly they explain how important it is to have medium and long-term aims in which lessons should be considered as building blocks. -˜Too often, we can become obsessed with the details of individual lessons, when in fact they are only parts of a greater whole.' Quite right.
What is particularly helpful about this book is that each idea is shown in practice how it might work, often scripted from examples from their own lessons. Everything from unpacking hinge questions, solo taxonomy, live modelling, exploring -˜what am I doing, why am I doing it?'
Then, there's a great section on speaking and the place in securing understanding for all students, but particularly for disadvantaged groups. The importance of practice, missing things up, appropriate feedback, how to support students with making their comments kind, specific and helpful. Too often, in too many classrooms, it stops at the kind.
And finally, that turbo-driving strategy for meaningful conversations in classrooms: Socratic questioning. Well, well worth a read. For every teacher in every school.