Reading as a way of learning

ReadingWhen posting on the blog this year, I have mentioned several books that I have read in connection to my topics.  A few of you have asked me questions along the lines of “how do you find time to read that much?”  The reality is that I, much like any of you, have a pretty busy schedule with lots of things to do.  If I wanted to, I could work all day on things in my office and never truly feel done, however if I did that, I would be stressed, overworked, and unhappy.  Outside of school I have responsibilities too; my family, my friends, and my own fitness and health.  With all of these things, it would be easy to say that I don’t have time to read, but I’m not willing to do that!  I love reading!

Reading is one of the things I really really love!
Reading is one of the things I really really love!

So, with all those responsibilities, how do I find the time to read as much as I do?  There are a couple of ways.  First is at the beginning of the day.  Most days I arrive here at school, log into my computer, and before doing anything else, I pick up a book and read for 10-15 minutes.  I try to make sure that reading is professional in nature.  If you expand that over the course of a school year, 10-15 minutes a school day turns into 30-45 hours of reading in a school yer!  Give me that much time and I can knock out a ton of books and learn so much!  In addition to those 10-15 minutes, I always have a book in iBooks that I am reading.  That means I have it on my phone and I can pick it up anytime – waiting at the shop for them to finish my oil change?  I could waste my time on Facebook or Twitter, or I could read some of my book.  I also try to take a little bit of time at the end of the day before bed to read.  It helps me wind down my day and clears up any stress I may have previously felt.  I know a lot of people love to get on their favorite social media site at the end of the day, but that just doesn’t do it for me.  I’m intentional in my practice of finding time to read.  I could watch a random basketball game, or another episode of whatever I’ve been watching on Netflix, and sometimes I do, but often I end up feeling like I’m wasting my time.

I'd love to have a room that looks like this!
I’d love to have a room that looks like this!

So then the question comes, how do you pick a new book?  I’m always looking for book ideas.  One book I am currently reading was mentioned during a conference I was at.  Another book I saw on a colleague’s bookshelf, and a third book I’m reading because I heard an awesome interview of the author on the radio.  I get book ideas from people I follow on Twitter, blog posts I read, conversations with friends and colleagues, or just going to Amazon and looking at the “Customers who bought this item also bought” for books that I might like.

Ultimately I see my reading as my own best form of PD.  While many of the books I read are not tied directly to education, I can often find connections in my reading.  Below I’m going to list a few of the books that I am currently reading, as well as some of the ones I have finished reading recently.  Maybe it will inspire you to pick up a new book over Thanksgiving Break, or add it to your wish list.  The books I read are things that I am interested in, but also things that I feel help me grow as an educator.  And they help me keep my sanity!

My current reading list:

  1. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.  In his research, Kahneman has studied how the human brain works, and he breaks it down into 2 systems.  System 1 is our fast, intuitive, and emotional part of the brain, while system 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical.  Most of us would believe that the slower more deliberate part of the brain rules most of our choices, but based on the research, System 1 is much more in control than we might realize.  Understanding the 2 systems and how they interact can help us be more intentional in our thought processes.
  2. Great by Choice by Jim Collins & Morten T. Hansen.  In this follow up to Good to Great and Built to Last, Collins looks at why some companies are able to thrive in times of chaos and uncertainty when others are not.  In the book Collins compares companies that find the way to be successful in difficult times with comparison companies were not able to be as successful (think Intel vs. AMD, or Microsoft vs. Apple, or Progressive vs. Safeco).  While there are no direct ties to education, some of his theories on success could be used in creating the mission or vision for our schools.
  3. The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt.  This book combines 2 of my personal passions: Science and Cooking; and it has proven to me that you can truly “read” a cookbook.  This book is much more than just a cookbook.  Each chapter or section talks first about the science of cooking – a couple of nights ago I read about the pros and cons of brining a turkey, and have decided that I am going to try a dry brine for our bird this year – and then it gets into the recipe.  I love understanding the science behind the steps I am taking, and seeing new ways to achieve some of my family’s favorite recipes!

And now for some of my recent reads (I included some fiction too, because sometimes you just have to read for fun!):

  1. Ditch that Textbook by Matt Miller
  2. Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess
  3. David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
  4. Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton
  5. Gray Mountain by John Grisham
  6. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
  7. King and Maxwell by David Baldacci
  8. Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly
  9. A Song of Ice and Fire (series) by George R. R. Martin

I’m curious!  What books are you reading?  What have you read?  What are you learning about from your reading?  Share in the comments below so that others can add your ideas to their reading list!

One thought on “Reading as a way of learning

  1. I am currently reading The Anatomy of Peace and The Parallel Process. They are both excellent reads! They both focus on how to have healthy, productive communication between adults and children.


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