We chose to name this series “Building Your Teaching Toolbox” because we think a toolbox is a strong metaphor for becoming an effective educator. New teachers enter the profession with a toolbox that needs to be filled with strategies they can try out and practice in order to determine which are their “go-to” tools. Veteran teachers often have a teaching toolbox filled with some tools that are well-worn and others that might be in need of revitalizing or updating to make them more efficient and fun to use, and thus more useful for students.
The importance of a well-filled toolbox is not something we take lightly as educators with nearly a half-century of teaching combined under our belts; we continue to revisit our tools to figure out what needs to be updated and consider new strategies to add that enhance our pedagogy. Each district, school, classroom, and child is different, and from year to year, whether a teacher changes schools or not, tools a teacher uses need to be adapted to meet the needs of the new students they are teaching. Therefore, our book series is focused on “Building Your Teaching Toolbox” in order to support new teachers in developing practical teaching strategies they can adapt for any school context and to support veteran teachers in revitalizing and adding to their already established teaching toolbox.
Within this series, readers will find tried and tested teaching strategies that can be turnkeyed for any school context. The strategies in each book are developed from successful K-12 teachers from across the United States and globally. In attempting to create a book that would provide a comprehensive number of teaching tools to fill a teacher’s toolbox, we realized one book would not suffice. This led to the creation of the five-book “Building Your Teaching Toolbox” Book Series that provides 30 strategies in each of four focus areas: (1) classroom climate; (2) planning; (3) instruction; and (4) professional development. The first book in the series provides five core strategies in each of these four areas and each subsequent book is focused on one pedagogical area at a time (book #2: classroom climate; book #3: planning; book #4: instruction; and book #5: professional development).
Having taught and supervised students in so many different school contexts, we knew this book series needed to emphasize how to modify core strategies in multiple ways. Therefore, every teaching strategy throughout the book series includes tips on how to adapt the strategy based on grade-level, type of learner, and different school assets and needs like class size, technology, and cultural diversity.
Along with these adaptations, we wanted to be sure that readers could imagine what strategy implementation might be like in their classrooms. Each strategy comes alive through the stories of how contributing teachers have used and adapted the strategies they shared. We also recognize that one great strategy actually requires numerous tiny strategies to effectively execute; so we break down each strategy like nesting dolls where readers will see the overall larger strategy and then more and more details are revealed that will help readers make the strategy their own.
We believe the “Building Your Teaching Toolbox” Books Series will serve as a practical resource for educators of all backgrounds and experience while also helping to create a toolbox community where we can continue to learn and grow from one another. Thanks for becoming part of that community!