Scott Wilcox began his career as a high school social studies teacher and later taught PE, math, and Humanities in grades 3-12. Scott received his BA in Government from Harvard University and an M.Ed. from the University of Missouri.
He has held various leadership positions in schools in the United States, Taiwan and Dubai and joined ASIJ in 2019 from Rochester, New York. His wife Sheila is certified in both ESL and science and has a diverse background teaching all ages at different points in her career. Their son and daughter join them at ASIJ.
When I started teaching I had a teacher-centered mindset and, as I look back, many of my practices did not align with the vision of great teaching and learning that I have today. Fortunately, I was surrounded by teachers and leaders who pushed me and helped me grow.
This led to fundamental changes about how I viewed teaching, learning, and the kids who were with me in class. This fundamental shift in my own thinking about teaching and learning was invigorating and led me down a path to be able to support other teachers in their own growth and development as a leader.
Learning is the essence of our profession and everything else we do is—in a way—in service of learning. Of course this is true of our kids, but if we want our kids to value learning it is essential that school is a place where there is learning for all—and that starts with all adults seeing themselves as learners. If we want a culture of learning where kids as curious, motivated, open to change, and excited about their own development we also need teachers who are curious, motivated, open to change, and excited about their own development.
I struggle with this question because sometimes it is not about one must-read book, but about finding the perfect book for you at a particular moment in your own development. Here are three books, though, that I think help develop thinking around teaching and learning in some important ways:
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink. We live in a world where we learn from an early age that rewards and punishments are fundamental to growth and motivation. It turns out that in most ways this just isn't true. I think every educator needs to read, and think deeply, about where motivation really comes from and Drive is a really good starting point.
Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe. There is a lot that is great here. Backward design, a focus on understanding and deep learning rather than knowing, alignment of assessments to outcomes, and what turned out to be the common language we use to talk about so much that we do as educators.
Never Work Harder Than Your Students by Robyn R. Jackson. This is a bit of a cheat, as I don't think every educator needs to read this book, but I think every educator needs to think about the fundamental question of who is doing the intellectual work in school. We know that learning is done by the learner, not the teacher, so how do we create an environment where the students, not the teachers, are doing the work of school?