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Blog: Turning on the Lightbulb and Sharing Practice

rlj1981Ever wondered what it would be like to write a book about your teaching practice?  Rachel Jones is a Google Certified Teacher working in the South of England.  We asked her to share her thoughts on doing just that after releasing, Don't Change the Light Bulbs, which is a compilation of teachers' ideas, hints and tips.  All proceeds of Rachel's book are donated to Action for Children.

After ten years of not sharing my practice with anyone I am now in the slightly surreal position of recently having published a book about teaching and learning.

Publishing a book has been on my wish list of things to do for as long as I can remember, and I feel very privileged to have had this opportunity.  The book came about after I was chosen to attend the 2013 Google Teacher Academy in London. This was a vibrant sharing of ideas and practice, and one of the outcomes had to be completing an education project using technology which affected more than your local community of learners. I decided to use Google Forms to ask teachers to share their too ideas for learning, and I began emailing and tweeting people to ask them to contribute. In many ways who I asked depended on who I was already in contact with, or that they had made themselves know as an expert in a particular field. I wanted the finished book to be of use and interest to all stake holders in the education sector, and so I tried to cover as many academic disciplines as possible, as well as generic pedagogical areas such as differentiation. I also included a section for governors, as well as student voice written by children themselves.

The idea of the book was not really that you would sit down and read it from cover to cover, but that you would dip in and out. Teachers are busy folk, and the format of the dont-change-the-lightbulbsbook tries to be accessible and offer some expert advice when necessary and some inspiration when required. To that end, I included sections on creativity as well as more traditional teaching practice. The authors contributions themselves were not censored at all, and it was important to me that their expert voice was as authentic as possible. Teachers don't need edited or censored advice, they need advice from those who have done the job well, often with some experience.

After all the submissions had come in I started to format the book using iBook Author. The original plan was to publish the book as a charity book and ask for a donation to download it from iBooks. Soon after I had begun doing this I was contacted by Crown House Publishers, who offered to publish the book and give the monies to charity. I can't describe how exciting this was, and also how nerve wracking all at the same time. I also had no idea how complicated the publishing process was before this: legal paper work, proof edits, graphics approvals.... Lots of trying to keep the project on track. I am very grateful to those from Crown House for being so supportive, and for putting up with me asking so many questions. In particular the work done on how the book looks and feels is awesome, and makes it unique as a reading experience.

Once the book was nearly ready to be released we started to plan a launch party which could involved the charity who will benefit from the sales, Action for Children, and as many of the contributors as possible. The Education Foundation kindly offered for us to use their offices at The Centre for Primary literacy,  which was ideas as the book had an emphasis on cross phase sharing of ideas. The launch event itself was one of the best nights of my life, having so many inspiring people in one place was lovely and it was not hard to see how such giving and positive people gave up their time and work to help make the project happen.

It had never really occurred to me that the book could be controversial. It is giving experienced and inspiring teachers a platform for their views and ideas. We can all aim to get better, and the inclusion of individuals Twitter handles leave open the possible for further communication or exchange of ideas from those reading the book. I happened to see Doug Lemov complimenting some of those involved on twitter, and this is what the project is - not just a book, but a snapshot of education in 2014 which involved comic action between those who wrote for it and those who are reading it.

It has been lovely to see a project through from being just an idea to a finished project. My children aside, it is the thing I am most proud of in the world. A lot of people ask about how the title came about, all I can say is Ian Gilbert chose it from the section by @chocotzar! A massive thank you to everyone who helped make the book happen, and it is such a pleasure when people contact me to say how much the love it. Happy reading.

Dont Change the Light Bulbs is available on Amazon with all profits donated to the charity Action for Children

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