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These 6 Things: How to Focus Your Teaching on What Matters Most

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Every time that I interact with a fellow teacher or educator, a common dilemma is always right there, either woven throughout our conversation or just under the surface. On the one hand, we believe in this work, we love it, we feel called to it, and we consider it noble and good. It's the work of promoting the long-term good of young people, and it's inherently beautiful. On the other hand, the number of things we're expected to do and be as teachers is overwhelming. The guilt we travel home with each day when, once again, we've not done all the one thousand things we're supposed to do, for all of our kids, is real.

I wrote These 6 Things for us. You know those 1000+ things we feel expected to do? I've worked and researched and experimented to the point where I've got it down to six. It is my firm belief, and the book is rife with the evidence to support this, that if educators and coaches and administrators, particularly in secondary and upper elementary settings, became experts at these six things, then so much of the rest would take care of itself.

From increasing student achievement scores, to moving forward building literacy initiatives, to improving inter- and intra-departmental collaboration, to making the school day a lot more sensible to our students — These 6 Things is a book that can help.

Order the book: Amazon Barnes and Noble Corwin

What you'll learn:

In this highly practical, research-rich book by a practicing classroom teacher, you'll learn the following:

  1. A timeless “Everest” exercise for cutting through overwhelm and getting clear about what you're doing — helping you to do less work but better.
  2. A simple, powerful, beliefs-based approach to analyzing and improving student motivation. You'll have a grid for getting through those “throw your hands in the air” situations and into the sweet spot of “Okay, let's try this.” And none of it's theory — I've done it all in my classroom, and I've helped teachers around the country and world do it, too.
  3. Practical interventions and strategies for reaching poorly motivated kids, ranging from those who are overly incentivized by grades, to those who are apathetic, to those who shudder at the thought of schoolwork.
  4. Why knowledge-building does matter in the age of Google, and how to make robust knowledge-building meaningful and successful for kids across the school day.
  5. How to facilitate simple and powerful classroom debates that teach kids how to argue earnestly and amicably rather than divisively or without listening.
  6. How to properly frame reading, writing, and speaking/listening in the content areas in ways that content area teachers can get behind, thereby making school-wide literacy pushes better and saner for everybody.
  7. Nine simple moves to pull from for helping diverse groups of kids read diverse kinds of complex, high-value texts. 
  8. No-nonsense talk about and strategies for drastically reducing the amount of time we spend grading written student work.
  9. (Go back and re-read #8 — I'm serious.)
  10. A time-tested and simple approach to getting kids who are afraid of public speaking to speak in front of their peers with growing confidence.

And more.

Here's what real people are saying about These 6 Things:

Caroline Boddiford, Georgian educator and AVID coordinator, says:

Jim Burke, the quintessential English teacher and prolific teacher-author behind classics like The English Teacher's Companion, says:

What I appreciate most about Dave Stuart’s book is that he is one of us: a classroom teacher sharing with us what works for him in ways that will work for us in our own classrooms with our own students. When I read about the poster on his class wall that says “[In this class] we are all about becoming better thinkers, readers, writers, speakers, and people,” I think of the years of hard work I have watched Dave Stuart put into his craft and this book, and how the same statement applies to Dave Stuart himself: He is all about becoming a better thinker, reader, writer, speaker, person—and teacher, and showing us how we can do the same.

David T. Conley, the man who basically coined the phrase “college and career readiness” during a lifetime of studying the subject and author of College & Career Ready: Helping All Students Succeed Beyond High School, says:

In These 6 Things, Dave Stuart provides a framework and road map that is of value to educators at all stages of their careers, from novices to veterans. He reminds us all to focus in on the things that are most important and to do them well. Much of the book creates opportunities for the kinds of reflection and self-analysis in which most teachers do not have the opportunity to engage. A great tool for new teaches and seasoned teachers alke to find their “Everest” and pursue it.

ReLeah Cossett-Lent, disciplinary literacy guru, lover of the Georgia mountains, and author of This is Disciplinary Literacy, says:

These 6 Things is a joyful shot in the arm for experienced teachers as well as for novices. Is it possible to consolidate the most important aspects of teaching into one book – complete with relevant, engaging examples that have been tried and proven by teachers in various content areas? I wouldn’t have thought so, but Dave has managed to do it, all while affirming, encouraging, and acting as a ‘guide on the side’ for those who may feel unsure about trying out new activities with their students. You’ll want to carve out some reading time for this book. The journey will yield wonderful rewards for both teachers and students.

Gerard Dawson, teacher, blogger, and author, says:

George Evans, international educator, says:

Joe Ferraro, high school teacher and mastermind behind the One Percent Better Project, says:

These 6 Things checks all the boxes. It's generous. Well-researched. Insightful. Easy to read. This book will serve as an incredible primer for a teacher beginning her journey, or as a gentle nudge for a veteran teacher looking to re-focus on what is essential.  I have been learning from Dave for five years, and this is his very best work.

Barry Gilmore, one of the kindest edu-authors I've ever met and co-author of Academic Moves, says:

If you’re searching for balance as a teacher of literacy, search no further. Dave Stuart Jr. offers a calming voice for a frenzied profession and provides practical classroom strategies that will help you teach adolescents in the rich and meaningful ways they deserve without becoming overwhelmed. This book is packed with ideas that are research-based, student-centered, and most of all, workable. This is a book written for classroom teachers by a classroom teacher…

Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein, the power duo behind the incredibly bestselling They Say / I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing, say:

In Stuart's wonderful book, he draws extensively on his own classroom experience to show teachers how to help students use their everyday argument skillls to energize the classroom, meet [career and college readiness] standards, and achieve success. An extra treat is that Stuart himself writes in a down to earth language refreshingly devoid of Educationese. If you're a teacher or school administrator interested in turning your students onto argument, Dave Stuart is your man!

Peter Grostic, director of professional learning and podcaster at CBD, says:

Matthew Johnson, a teacher-writer in Michigan, says:


Kristy Louden, a teacher, coach, and blogger in Alabama, says:

Valinda Kimmel, a lifelong educator, wide reader, deep thinker, blogger, and educational consultant, says:

Dave has become a voice of reason in this crazy age of cock-eyed accountability. And thank goodness, Dave has published a book… that gives educators the world over a balanced narrative on the real work and sacred calling of teaching.

Erik Palmer, THE GUY when it comes to teaching speaking and the mastermind behind my most beloved acronym (PVLEGS), says:

No teacher needs more to do, but every teacher wants better to do. These 6 Things cuts through all the demands that bombard teachers and focuses on the essentials of great education. Combining a little theory and a lot of practice, Stuart shares practical, powerful ways to make all students successful.

Mike Schmoker, the legendary author of Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning, says:

These Six Things is among the most helpful, passionate, practical, insightful teaching resources I have ever come across. It is brimming with simple, practical—exceedingly realistic—suggestions and strategies for immediately improving the quality of schooling and student work—starting tomorrow. These Six Things is an impressive and arrestingly-written book by a working teacher. I hope it gets a wide reading.

Order the book: Amazon Barnes and Noble Corwin

Would you like to see the first chapter?

If you put in your email below, I will send you the first twenty pages of These 6 Things. Feel free to share that with anyone you'd like. If you have any questions about the book, you can just reply to the email I send you with the first chapter access. I will answer ASAP!