I started up my own professional development book club. I was tired of rolling the dice to see if the school-led or district-led PD would be anything I was interested in. I knew what I wanted to get better at this year. I wanted to go deeper into how I assess my students and take the next step toward having those assessments help me decide where the class should go next.

I told my administrator about this, and he was very supportive. This idea became a part of my evaluation and growth plan. I looked online for a workshop that might fit my needs and found one that looked interesting, sponsored by Solution Tree. I brought the idea back to my administrator, but as much as he wanted to support me, the school’s budget had taken a huge hit (like schools across the nation), so a trip was out of the question.  However, he was willing to buy me the book, Ahead of the Curve.

After reading the book, I was hungry for more. While reading each chapter, I took notes about ideas I wanted to try in my classroom and other books that I wanted to read. At the same time, I couldn’t stop talking about how cool some of the ideas in this book were. Other teachers definitely felt my enthusiasm; they asked to borrow the book for themselves.

I put together a list of four more books I wanted to read and approached my administrator again. He helped me win some grant money to buy fifteen copies of each of the four books I wanted and fourteen more of Ahead of the Curve.  Now I could tell those teachers who wanted to borrow my book that not only could I get them copies of their own, but that I had stipends of about $500 for each of them to compensate them for their time reading, discussing, and sharing ideas with others in their departments. We met for the first time in January.  We’re going to read a book a month and then meet on the final Thursday of each month to talk for a couple of hours after school.  I’m excited.  Here is our reading list:

Ahead of the Curve February
Classroom Instruction and Grading that Works March
An Introduction to Student-Involved Assessment FOR Learning April
How to Grade for Learning, K12 May
Unwrapping the Standards June 

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