I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves. ~E.M. Forster, Two Cheers for Democracy, 1951
I have confession to make. I’m in love with reading books related to the field of education. This is not to be confused with my lust for romantic novels, adoration for children’s literature, or pure impatience for the release of Veronica Roth’s Allegiant. Yet nothing can get my heart racing more than adding another work-related title to my Amazon wish list.
Here’s the proof:
Last week I attended the Martin’s Institute (#micon13) summer conference in Memphis, TN. The topics that caught my interest most over the two days were Will Richardson’s (@willrich45) and Bo Adams’s (@boadams1) portrayals of the joys and truths of modern and transformational learning as well as Jill Gough’s (@jgough) and Greg Bamford’s (@gregbamford) sessions on assessment and reporting of student learning. I participated in a variety of sessions, took copious notes, and Tweeted overall themes and nuggets of wisdom. But it wasn’t until a book title was mentioned that my heart began to thud as I double-clicked the iPad home button and quickly switched to the Amazon app, adding every book mentioned over the two days to my “Books for Work” wishlist. The “Buy with 1-Click” button and Amazon Prime fast delivery have become my new best friends.
Yes, I did mention fast delivery. The Kindle and Newsstand apps on the iPad are fabulous, don’t get me wrong. However, I prefer to use my iPad mini for the “fun” reading, including trashy vampire romance, US Weekly magazine, and anything Jennifer Lancaster writes. Also, linking my Amazon Kindle account to our public library has greatly reduced the cost of purchasing these beach reads. But holding Grant Wiggins’ Understanding by Design or Grant Lichtman’s (@GrantLichtman) The Falconer in my lap as I switch between highlighter and colored pen is priceless. I enjoy passing on a great read to coworkers, asking them to add notes in another color, as we mesh our thoughts and ideas together in one central location.
Last year our faculty read The Book Whisperer for our January book club. To save money we passed the book from person to person, creating a torn and tattered (though certainly not dusty) book of anecdotes, thoughts, and future ideas from teachers old and young, new and experienced. I can pull these out at any time for reference and reflection on our curricular goals. Our administrative team has used a similar practice when reading articles we plan to discuss. The print copy is a reference that I pull out again and again when chipping away at the big ideas in innovation and design.
So as I arrived home from the Martin’s Institute conference a bazillion hours late (with special thanks to awful storms and Delta Airlines), I searched for the packages delivered while I was gone. And then I spotted it: the ever-recognizable Amazon box. Regardless of the fact that it was 1:00 a.m. and there were trees and powerlines down all over the neighborhood, I cracked open Susan Brookhart’s Grading and Learning, powered up my mini book light, and devoured the introduction- pen in hand- because I was ready to go a little farther down that path.