Why is it important to make time for reading?
In the busy teaching day, it can often be the last thing on your mind to dive into some professional reading. So, why should you make it a priority and how can you utilise your time effectively to fit it in?
Making time to read about your craft can be inspiring as well as confirming that what you do is evidence backed. You may choose to read around topics linked to your own professional targets or perhaps just keep up with recent publications. However, it can be daunting if you don’t know where to look.
Here are my 5 top tips to get you started.
1. Focus your topic of interest
The most important thing to pin down is knowing what you want to read about. I would suggest that your reading revolves around an area in your daily practice so that what you read is not only relevant but can also be impactful.
You could also ask your colleagues for recommendations of things they’ve read recently as a good place to begin. Perhaps you could set up a recommended reading list for staff to share books with each other. How great would it be if we could allocate a small portion of time, on a regular basis, to discussing and interrogating reading or research during Professional Development (PD) meeting time?
2. Know where to look
Firstly, use the resources you have on hand. Find out where your school stores their PD books. Many schools have their own PD library either within the staffroom or in the school library. See what you already have easy access to.
There are also many sites which recommend the top books about education for that year, such as this list on the Teach Thought blogs are a really quick way of getting shorter snippets of information in an easier to read format. Don’t forget to make sure you’re signed up to TeacherToolkit blog updates via email.
There are many other high-quality bloggers out there too such as Love Learning, Learning is Messy and The Confident Teacher, who are all worth keeping bookmarked on your laptop. Twitter is another good source of information too if you know who to follow. Check out this great list to get you started.
3. Listen instead of reading!
If you prefer to listen than to read, then podcasts might be the ideal way for you to get your reading in. There are a number of podcast platforms which offer free access to a variety of education-related talks. Many of these you can download as apps on your phone. Spotify, iTunes, TED talks and TED Radio Hour are just a few of those.
If you’re looking for a few podcast channels to follow, I would suggest these as a starting point:
Throw on some headphones, hit play and enjoy listening to a podcast whilst you hit the gym or clean your home!
4. Set aside a regular time slot in your week
One of the most challenging things for a teacher is allocating time in a busy schedule to do extra things, such as reading. One solution is to block out a time in your timetable, whether it is 10 minutes or a whole lesson, which is protected for reading time. For some, this works better at the end of the school day when there are less opportunities for distractions.
I personally protect some time on a Friday afternoon as I know I won’t be busy preparing for the next lesson or planning for the next day.
5. Find a quiet place
When you’ve identified what you want to read and when you’re going to do it, next you need to find somewhere where you won’t be disturbed. Find a quiet spot in school where you’re unlikely to get inundated by students asking questions or colleagues wanting to chat. Some of my colleagues choose to do their professional reading on the way to school as they travel by bus.
Choose something which will work for you and fit into your day the easiest.
Professional reading is important. Remember to keep it focused, keep it relevant and keep a time slot. Happy reading!