This is "a book for teachers by a teacher", offering specific, practical advice on a range of subjects related to professional practice. It should be particularly useful for early career teachers who have completed their NQT year and who are beginning to find their way in the classroom. Adam Riches advises us to focus on "doing simple things well", tweaking our practice in the light of your own context, and finding a sustainable balance so that we teach well without exhausting ourselves. He stresses the importance of continuing to ask "how does that help learning?" and to strip back extraneous activity which takes time and energy without enhancing the pupils' experience.
Throughout the book, Adam poses questions which encourage reflection and help the reader to engage with the ideas he is exploring. He structures his advice around Sweller's Cognitive Load Theory, Rosenshine's 10 Principles of Instruction and Bjork's Desirable Difficulty. The elements of teaching he covers include: the importance of cultural literacy; the use of space in the classroom and ensuring you have a presence; the power of display to support learning; successful modelling; effective planning; clarity of expectations; judicious use of praise; engaging and working with parents; productive use of feedback, and skilful questioning. At all stages Adam is mindful of how we can ensure our efforts are reasonable and sustainable.
His underpinning message? "Knowing when enough is enough is the key to ensuring that you stay in the profession."
Reading this book should help teachers to become more efficient and effective. He encourages us to plan a change in practice which will help us to be better at our jobs and less likely to feel overwhelmed. He stresses the importance of being thoughtful and discriminating. "You don't need to be critical, but you must critique your practice". Reflective = effective, Adam suggests. This book should help teachers to teach well, to keep things in perspective and strive to find a balance in their lives so that they can thrive. It may stop some of them walking away from the classroom.
Jill Berry, Leadership Consultant and former Headteacher, UK.
Teach smarter: what an alluring and powerful concept. When we enter a teaching as demanding and complex as teaching, it is this that we are desperately striving for. Those first few years often pass in a maze of confusion, late-night planning and sneering at any suggestion that we should have a "work-life balance". Luckily, for these overstretched and exhausted teachers, Adam Riches book has arrived at exactly the right time. He provides us with utter clarity about how we can become more efficient in the classroom, using a wide range of educational research to support his excellent advice.
I remember being desperate for clear, instantly transferable advice in my first few years of teaching. I would have devoured this book and I know it would have saved me a significant amount of time (and from making even more mistakes!). Now, over a decade into this wonderful profession, I left reading it feeling invigorated and with a range of new ideas to experiment with. The chapter on feedback has been a revolution for me - saving me time and helping my students understand how to improve. We are desperate to keep energised and motivated new teachers in the profession, and the advice nestled in this book will undoubtedly help to achieve this. It is time to reject the notion we should work harder and burn out, and instead embrace Adam's philosophy that we teach smarter and have more impact.
Jamie Thom, English teacher and author of Slow Teaching.
This book from Adam Riches is incredibly timely. We have a retention crisis that drives far too many teacher out of the classroom early in their careers. I have no doubt that the sage advice in this book will do much to return some sanity to the profession and help keep teachers teaching."
Mark Enser, teacher and author of Teach Like Nobody's Watching.
Retention of early career teachers is a current problem in education and in this book, Adam makes a number of practical and useful suggestions aimed at early career teachers about how they can take ownership of their professional practice and not become overwhelmed by the requirements of teaching in their first crucial years of teaching. Full of lots of practical advice as Adam is writing from his current context as a practising classroom teacher.
Kate Sida-Nicholls (FCCT) Suffolk and Norfolk SCITT Secondary PGCE Course Leader.
"Teach Smarter fills a gap between the information learned in a teacher prep program and the trenches of real teaching through thoughtful, relevant conversation and practical tips for reducing workload and increasing both student and teacher efficacy."
Serena Hicks, Teachers College Record
"Overall, this is a fruitful resource that I wish I'd had before starting my PGCE course, and a welcome update on others in its genre. Best of all, Riches is not afraid to criticise areas of pedagogy, which makes Teach Smarter more credible and provides important critical context."
Sameerah Mussa, Schools Week