When was the last time you began reading a professional book and could not put it down? This may be the second time in my teaching career that this has happened to me.
I began reading The 6 Keys to Teacher Engagement, and after reading two pages, I put it down – but only to grab a highlighter, sticky notes, and a pen. I could tell that this book would contain information that would be relevant and timely to me in my role as a literacy coach.
I was right! Not only do we learn the what and why, but we learn where to go from there. This book is a quick read but packed with key concepts and skills, charts to help explain these, engagement strategies and step-by-step activities to help achieve teacher – and subsequently student – engagement.
I also appreciated that Cathie E. West included many articles, journals, books, and websites to coordinate with the activities or to learn more information.
The focus of many faculty and data team meetings has been student engagement. How can we engage our students and see results in student achievement? It may seem obvious but a concept the author discussed resonated with me – we need to start with teacher engagement. Wow, why didn’t I think of this before?
I knew we had to have enthusiastic teachers, innovative teachers, and content-knowledgeable teachers, but engaged teachers? Of course!
The book is divided into six keys:
- Create a Culture of Engagement
- Get Organizationally Engaged
- Engineer Engagement
- Zero In on Best Practice
- Tap into Teacher Leaders
- Confront Change Challengers
Each chapter discusses the topic, describes how different practitioners approach the topic (interview style), shares strategies, presents clear plans to facilitate the concept in a faculty meeting or professional development, summarizes the chapter, and gives “Steps to Success,” including further suggestions for school leaders. A school leader can literally take the suggested plan and implement it.
Cathie West also includes short biographies on all of the professionals she consulted and used in her interviews in the book. She even includes their biggest challenges and best rewards.
To be honest, many times when I read a professional book I skip the end-of-chapter summaries because I feel like I understand them, and as teachers, aren’t we always pressed for time? I actually looked forward to the wrap-ups in this book because they made me think further about what I read.
Who should read this book? It is designed for school leaders, but as a literacy coach I found that so many ideas resonated with me. West discusses why teachers display resistant behaviors and how to confront these “change challengers.” As a coach, this made me (literally) sit back and think about my own teacher colleagues.
I strongly believe that anyone involved in education today could benefit from reading this insightful work. Immediately after reading The 6 Keys to Teacher Engagement, I took a picture of the cover and sent it to a friend who is a superintendent. She replied that this is exactly what her district is grappling with at this time. I will be sending the book to her tomorrow!
Janice Rustico is a former language arts teacher and is currently a literacy coach working with language arts and social studies teachers. Her focus is interdisciplinary literacy. Janice resides in Connecticut.