Seven Simple Secrets to Keep Handy

Seven Simple Secrets: What the BEST Teachers Know and Do, 2nd Edition
By Annette Breaux and Todd Whitaker
(Routledge, 2014 – Learn more)

Reviewed by Laura Von Staden

LauraVonStadenAnother absolute winner from Breaux and Whitaker. This 168-page book is an easy read with tons of great suggestions to help teachers be highly effective. It is broken into 49 chapters/sections plus seven extra sections. There are seven parts to each of the seven secrets, plus seven bonus lists, which are all downloadable.

Breaux and Whitaker write in a crisp, to the point format, like a friend giving you a strategy. None of the sections are more than a few pages long, but each is packed full of great ideas and tips. Every secret starts with a poem and almost every part of each secret ends with a verse, such as: “So teach in segments of five and see your classroom come alive!” Each secret also ends with a list of summary bullet points and a list of guiding questions for teachers to ask themselves to help them reflect and move toward better teaching.

Fresh suggestions for familiar challenges

7SimpleSecrets-2ndEdAt first glance, you might feel like you already do a good job applying the 7 secrets: Planning, Classroom Management, Instruction, Attitude, Professionalism, Effective Discipline, and Motivation and Inspiration, but I bet that you will find a few new tricks to implement.

Sometimes we know the best things to do but have a hard time implementing them with our students (in the heat of the moment). Not to worry, Breaux and Whitaker give explicit examples, with specific step by step instructions (which really do work).

They even include what to say to help us deal with common issues that teachers face, such as students talking in line or sleeping in class, getting everyone involved in group work, or addressing lack of motivation. The authors also give specific suggestions on how to handle negative co-workers and parents.

Each part of each section is marked with a black strip on the side of the page, so, they have essentially tabbed the book for us.

A ready reference

For any teacher who wants to be highly effective, having this book as a reference and reading it over and over is a must. Between the tabbing of the book, the quick concise sections, the summary bullet points, the short verses, the reflective questions, and the bonus lists, the last of which is “Seven Things You Can Do to Be a More Effective Teacher Tomorrow,” having this book is like having a coach at your fingertips.

Definitely a book you want on your shelf — no strike that, you want at your fingertips.

Read another review of this book.

Read a sample article from Seven Simple Secrets here at MiddleWeb.

Laura Von Staden is a Special Education Middle School Teacher in Tampa, Florida. She serves on numerous committees both at her school and within her district and works closely with the local university where she is a Professional Practice Partner and a master mentor. Dr. Von Staden also facilitates both online and face-to-face Professional Development within her district.

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