Back to School but Keeping the Essence in Sight

This is the perfect time to pick up a copy of Keeping the Essence in Sight by Sharon Hartle. Why now?

It’s August already. The first day of class is on the horizon. Or for some of you, it’s already here, or there was no summer break at all. If you are one of those poor souls, then you know better than anyone the importance of finding time outside the classroom to reflect on our practice, find new ideas to chew on, and prepare for the coming term. In short, we need time to think outside class in order to be better teachers, even better than we already are, inside of class.

These last few weeks are the perfect time to pick up a new teaching book by a master teacher-practitioner like Sharon. Someone who carefully plans, observes, and reflects on her teaching. Someone who is dedicated to her own professional development and is inviting you along on a journey, or perhaps a cup of tea under a cypress tree in a garden in Verona. It’s still August, so there’s time to read in a garden or park, or perhaps on the beach, or even on the chair in the backyard.

Join Sharon in her contemplation on some of the great questions that confront teachers every day, but that we rarely have time to think about while we are caught up in the bustle of classwork, when we’re so busy we often react by instinct and follow the same patterns. Isn’t it nice that it’s still summer and we can take an hour to consider these questions from a more detached view point?

In her well-organized book, grounded always in practice and observation of practice, Sharon asks important and intriguing questions such as:

  • How do we balance student autonomy and teacher-directed learning?
  • When we assess students, should we focus more correcting errors or rewarding achievements?
  • How do we prepare our students and ourselves for blended learning?
  • How can we continue to develop professionally?
  • What exactly does it mean to teach a language? What is a language any way?

Sharon draws from practice, theory, student experience, conference proceedings, and fellow teachers and bloggers to provide well-considered and helpful opinions. And, she shows her work, taking you through her reasons for her answers with a warm, slightly sassy voice and a sense of humor.

But Keeping the Essence in Sight  is more than a book of 100 teaching tips to cut-and-paste into your classroom. Sharon is nothing if not a consummate teacher and a great teacher expects you to think for yourself. In this way, the book is an invitation to reflect on these questions yourself. Discussion questions after ever chapter help you on your journey, but the whole tone of the book is inviting and conversational, welcoming you into a dialogue.

So that’s this book—fairly short, but packed with important ideas presented well—is a perfect August read for an English teacher, although any language teacher will benefit. There’s enough time left before class starts to read it and absorb the ideas. It won’t take you too long. And the book is well-organized, divided into four topics (Learning, Teaching, Testing, Professional Development), each explored through three analytical questions. So even when you are bogged down in the demands of your teaching job, it’ll be easy for you to go back and find that anecdote you want to refer back to.

Join Sharon on her journey to be a better teacher and let her be your guide and companion.

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