The book blew me away - and believe me, I have read more than my share of education books over the years! Usually, I am frustrated for one or more of several reasons - books written by professors are not usually relatable, or they are dry and devoid of emotion, they are too broad and vague, or are too strategy oriented while not addressing the bigger picture. When I came to the end of Jon Eckert’s Just Teaching, I had this internal conversation: “Wow - I think this has to be one of the best books I have ever read on teaching and learning.... Wait - this is a friend - are you sure you are not biased and simply want to like it?...No, this is really good!” Let me tell you why I liked it and made it one of my only two recommendations (wait - Dan is recommending only two books??) to you for summer reading.
You need to buy and study this book for these reasons:
It presents a whole picture of being human and working with humans. Jon starts with encouraging the reader to look at students and each other as whole people and to seek mutual flourishing. I know Jon’s faith is at the core of the goodness in this book.
It is written in a personable and relatable style - I am glad Corwin allowed Jon to write from the heart and not just strictly keep it in third person. His humility and humanity and being a good and kind person come through the stories. I know from my times spent with Jon that this is really who he is and I admire his integrity and his work.
It is an extremely useful book for both teachers and admins. A wise admin will use this book as a reference and coaching guide when working with teachers. It is loaded with practical ideas. It could have also been named “Just Good Teaching”!
It is logically arranged and has all kinds of helpful discussion questions, tech tool suggestions, and supplementary forms that are not just add-ons, but really substantive and useful helps for the reader practitioner.
The range of knowledge and credibility Jon brings to his craft is very impressive and his being able to present syntheses of research in an understandable manner is outstanding.
Jon makes the complex simple - his acronym FEW (Feedback, Engagement, and Well-Being) is memorable and is a great organizer for the following chapters. He reverses the acronym in the layout of the book to make the point that we first need to make sure of the well being of the student, then focus on engagement and feedback. He zooms back out in the closing chapter and epilogue to emphasize that we don’t do this alone and that we need each other in community.
Throughout the book, Jon’s love for teachers and the teaching profession shines through and one feels that as a reader. This is not some research study or synthesis of best practices or academic exercise - it is real life that is hard work, but as a teacher you should not feel overwhelmed and there should be joy in the journey! And this book gives the tools and ideas to do it well and justly.
I loved this book and how Jon took the phrase “I am just a teacher” and in his own words “turns it on its head to claim its redemptive power” - the opportunity to help another person flourish is a unique privilege, but it should be done with care and in just ways - “cultivating freedom, justice, and flourishing.” I highly recommend this book!
Thanks for your interest in Christian Deeper Learning and this blog. This is our last blog post for the year and I want to give a huge thanks to all our contributors!