How to Focus Your Teaching on What Matters Most
What if the key to increasing the long-term impact of our classrooms and schools was doing fewer things much better?
In These 6 Things, I lay out a practical, research-backed manifesto for doing focusing on six areas of professional practice for the sake of building sustainable, high-impact classrooms all across the school day. 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.
What you'll learn:
In this highly practical, research-rich book by a practicing classroom teacher, you'll learn the following:
- A timeless “Everest” exercise for cutting through overwhelm and getting clear about what you're doing — helping you to do less work but better.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- How to facilitate simple and powerful classroom debates that teach kids how to argue earnestly and amicably rather than divisively or without listening.
- 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.
- Nine simple moves to pull from for helping diverse groups of kids read diverse kinds of complex, high-value texts.
- No-nonsense talk about and strategies for drastically reducing the amount of time we spend grading written student work.
- (Go back and re-read #8 — I'm serious.)
- 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.
Group Book Discussion Guide
Want some help turning These 6 Things into a whole-group conversation?
Click here for a pdf of widely-used book study guide. (Free; no opt-in required.)
Caroline Boddiford, Georgian educator and AVID coordinator, says:
I've followed @davestuartjr‘s blog for a long time – his wisdom is invaluable. Now, his book is out and #these6things is essential for teachers! I'm still learning to focus my work and not try to do all the things and this book is another step in my learning & improving journey! pic.twitter.com/GMbaw3uSqn
— Caroline Boddiford (@boddifordteach) July 27, 2018
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:
Teachers…if you read one professional book this summer, make it @davestuartjr‘s new book “These 6 Things.”
It's potentially life-changing to those implement the ideas within.
The book is out today. Check it out here: https://t.co/JSZG0OVxzy
— Gerard Dawson (@GerardDawson3) July 24, 2018
George Evans, international educator, says:
If you are a big Mike Schmoker fan like I am, then check out @davestuartjr‘s book ‘These 6 Things.' One of the best books on teaching I've ever read. Period. https://t.co/Vgv60bMxHU #education #2ndaryela
— George Evans (@kruevans) August 20, 2018
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:
Dave, the more I reflect on the themes of your book, the more I love it. A must-read!
— Peter Grostic (@PGrostic) July 28, 2018
Matthew Johnson, a teacher-writer in Michigan, says:
@davestuartjr‘s These Six Things reads like an extended revelation. Comprehensive, deeply practical, and full of game-changing ideas like inside-out learning, which is one of the most important new concepts education has seen for a long time! https://t.co/JbctpBNIB8 @CorwinPress
— Matthew Johnson (@a2matthew) August 10, 2018
Kristy Louden, a teacher, coach, and blogger in Alabama, says:
[Dave Stuart's new book] is AMAZING! It's got everything: big ideas, research-based, and most importantly–It's practical! #these6things
— Kristy Kruse Louden (@loudenclearblog) July 10, 2018
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.
Elizabeth Yomantas, in a review for Kappa Delta Pi's Record:
This book is recommended for new and veteran educators alike. For educators who are just beginning their time in the classroom, Stuart includes specific teaching suggestions and ideas to start strong. He also relates stories from his personal teaching experiences. For veteran educators, this book is rife with challenges to reconsider widely accepted, yet ineffective practices that are common in education. He provides new solutions to old problems and encourages experienced teachers to reexamine their priorities in the classroom.
Would you like to see the first chapter?
You can download the first chapter here.