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November 29, 2012

Together Teacher Book Clubs: New Year’s Resolution?

In our recent travels, we’ve caught wind of Together Teacher Book Clubs brewing across the country. Exciting stuff!

Over the next few months, we’ll highlight the great practices we’re seeing so you can institute your very own book club. January is just the right time to put new habits into place!

Marjorie, Esther and a team of folks at the Community Charter School of Cambridge started an optional book club this past fall. One of their colleagues read The Together Teacher over the summer and mentioned it to their principal. Their school now runs two book clubs with 14 teachers total. The Lower School principal sold teachers on the club by buying each member a book, and guaranteeing that the time invested would be regained many times over.

Here’s how the group articulated its purpose:

  • to facilitate teachers’ use of tools from The Together Teacher for a more organized and efficient work life
  • to help teachers achieve a better work/life balance
  • to receive guidance from veteran teachers

We recently spent some time with Marjorie learning about what helped get the book club off to such a great start. She shared these useful pointers:

  • Meet the needs of your teachers. Marjorie noted that the book club was optional, identified specific needs of individuals, and provided choices about which chapters to read based on these needs.
  • Share issues that surface with your principal. Marjorie is fortunate to work with a supportive principal who asked her to keep a list of any ideas that came up that could help the whole school. Here’s a great one the book club noticed: Teachers needed support synching their school’s Outlook calendars and email with smartphones. As a result of Marjorie mentioning this to her boss, a set of directions was circulated to all staff.
  • Make it easy; make it fun! We love this tip, of course! Keep the time short, have great snacks, and ensure the meeting is in your building!
  • Maintain group accountability. We WANT to get better at this stuff, right? So, ensure there is friendly accountability. At CCSC, individual’s commitments are listed at the bottom of book club agendas and revisited at each meeting.
  • Showcase existing talent at your school. Every school has at least one or two teachers who already have a lot of Togetherness Talents. Invite them to your book club, ask them to show you examples of how they manage their time and their stuff, and share, share, share!

Marjorie and CCSC, thanks for sharing your tips with us!

Together Teacher Sharing Question: Help us out! What other Together Teacher Book Club resources would you like to see?

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