This year, both the ISB21 team and the Learning Coaches team have decided to do something different with our team meeting time. Sure, we’ll still handle nuts and bolts, work on our team goals, and collaborate to move our school forward, but we’ve also added something new: a book club.

At the end of last year, we started realizing that we are all doing a lot of professional reading, but we weren’t spending a lot of time discussing what we were leaning in depth because we were all reading something different (and because our meetings were so jam-packed already). So, we’re going to streamline things a little bit this year.

Inspired by Lee Kolbert’s online book discussions using Shelfari and Scott McLeod’s annual summer book club, we thought it would be most productive to devote one meeting a month to our reading. Instead of trying to do everything every meeting, we’re going to rotate topics each week: one week focusing on nuts and bolts, one week on team goals, one week on our collaborative projects, and one week on our book club.

The coaching team is reading Coaching: Approaches and Perspectives by Dr. Jim Knight and the ISB21 team is reading Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns by Clayton Christensen, Curtis W. Johnson, and Michael B. Horn.

Each month we’ll read one chapter of the book and one member of the team will be responsible for facilitating a discussion about our learning. Hopefully, we’ll be able to:

  • reflect on our reading to help us apply our learning and deepen our understanding;
  • make connections as a group that might not have sprung to mind if we were reading alone;
  • have a common base of understanding, which may help propel us to action, instead of feeling isolated or overwhelmed;
  • practice what we preach in the classroom, we’re always asking our students to discuss their reading, now it’s our turn!

In addition to the offline reading, we’ve set up a common tag for our coaching team and we’ve all subscribed to the RSS feed (and posted it on our team wiki and Moodle course). Each book club we’ll spend a little bit of time sharing our thoughts on the resources we’ve tagged.

I’m really excited to get started. I love that we’ve prioritized learning during our meeting time instead of allowing ourselves to get bogged down with daily business (so much of which can be handled in other ways).I also think it’s great that we’re making sure to read both online and print material. I’m sure we’ll end up using the Moodle discussion forums to keep our conversations going outside of team meeting time as well. I must admit, I think this is the first time I’ve ever been on a team (or should I say two!) that is so devoted to learning.

Does anyone else spend team meeting time in a book club? What did you think? What made it work? What are some pitfalls to avoid?

3 thoughts on “The Team That Reads Together

  1. Kim, it’s a great idea to run a book club as a team or PLC. Not only does the team learn from the reading, but team members can also use the book to talk comfortably about their work, perhaps more comfortably than they are when talking about their own practices. You learn a lot about your colleagues and their philosophies from a book club. It’s also a good idea for the facilitator to bring some questions to start off each month’s discussion and to build off previous discussions, connecting chapters to the bigger picture of the book and how it help you improve what you do. It’s great that you’re team is mixing F2F and online discussion – the online piece should really help preserve the urgency of the discussions between meetings. Enjoy!

    1. @Chad

      You make a great point about team members talking more comfortably about their work in reference to the book, rather than personal experiences. I also think it will be very interesting, and enlightening, to see the different perspectives we will all undoubtedly have about each of these books. The blended approach, mixing online and F2F discussions, should also be a good model for all of our teachers who are doing the same things with their students. It will be really great for me to go through it as a “student” as well. I’ve been in quite a few online courses, but never one that combined F2F with online communication. Now I’ll get a much better picture of what our students experience here at school. I’m really looking forward to this!

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