Unleashing Great Teaching, by David Weston & Bridget Clay
What is the book about?
David Weston, Founder and Chief Executive of the Teacher Development Trust, and Bridget Clay, Head of Programme for Leading Together at Teach First, combined to create this practical handbook. It shows school leaders how they can remove barriers to learning and create a culture that facilitates improvement.
Why read this book
This book will be of interest to so many in an educational environment, from decision makers to classroom teachers or support staff. Weston and Clay superbly draw from educational, leadership and psychological research, combined with their years of experience working in and with schools and policy makers to create a practical resource on teacher development and how to deliver it.
Who is this book for?
This book is for any leaders of professional learning, team leaders, those interested in developing their own practice as evaluative practitioners and any teacher who wants to bring the best ideas into their classroom to make a lasting impact on their students.
While it also offers a great insight into the authors’ valuable experiences, Unleashing Great Teaching is solidly evidence-based. Helpfully, each chapter has a reference list to guide interested readers towards their own independent, further learning. It’s often hard to find a nice mixture between research and personality – the authors seem to have nailed it here.
First and foremost, the book looks great and presents the information and ideas within well with a mixture of text and graphics to help illustrate key points. Not only does this make is easier to read, it allows its readers to engage with the material better, while challenging them to draw their own conclusions too.
The overarching focus of the book is on three big ideas:
- Focusing on the organisational edge
- Empowering evaluative practitioners to engage in Responsive Professional Learning
- Drawing on collective expertise
To break these ideas down, the book is made up of 6 helpful chapters, from ‘Teaching and learning: The building blocks’ through to ‘Planning professional learning across a whole year’. Thanks to that thorough structure, the authors cover the what, why and how of professional development.
There are many reasons why we liked this book so much at InnerDrive HQ, but the main ones are its practicality, logical progression and engaging style. We particularly enjoyed Chapter 5, where the authors help you navigate how and why to engage with experts. The ‘Bringing it together’ section, with its useful examples and great explanation of the potential options you might have, was especially fascinating. This of course is often hard to come by.
Another section which sets Unleashing Great Teaching apart from most education books is the comprehensive guide to effective delivery you can find towards the end of the book. As CPD providers, of course, we loved this resource. In it, the authors help you navigate slide design (with some useful nods to Cognitive Load Theory and Dual Coding too) and effective verbal delivery. An absolute nugget is the checklist for presenters at the end of this section!
Value for money
This book is great value for money, currently at £22.99 on Bookshop.org. There are also some great illustrations, checklists and cycles in the book that will aid your practice. Both the Teacher Development Trust and Teach First have some awesome blogs, resources and webinars that can be accessed by all too.
Why we love this book
- Clear, practical and research driven advice
- Entertaining yet useful anecdotes from the authors’ experiences within schools
- Clear illustrations – this complements the book’s ideas well
- Recommended for both new and experienced teachers as well as school leadership teams
Using a wealth of experience and sound research-driven advice, David Weston and Bridget Clay have created the ultimate handbook of effective teacher development. From the tips drawn directly from research to the useful and engaging anecdotes, we are sure that everyone in education will benefit from reading this book.
If you have already read this book or are looking to expand your knowledge of teaching practices further, we recommend reading:
- The Learning Rainforest: Great Teaching in Real Classrooms, by Tom Sherrington
- The Science of Learning: 99 Studies That Every Teacher Needs to Know, by Bradley Busch & Edward Watson
- Why Don’t Students Like School? A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom, by Daniel Willingham
- Retrieval Practice: Research & Resources for every classroom, by Kate Jones
If you have limited time and are looking for something a little less comprehensive to read that will still allow you to make positive changes to your classroom, why not try some of our blogs? Here are a few suggestions to get you started: