Book clubs for professional learning: You won’t readgret it!

Yes, you read the title of this post correctly; the word readgretis not a typo, rather a satiric misspelling in a cheeky Barnes and Noble blog post where it was defined as being:

furious at yourself for putting off reading a certain book until now, when you feel like you should have read it years ago, you could have reread it at least 3 or 4 times; by now! (Schoemann-McCann, 2014, para. 14).

As a bibliophile, or a lover of books (Merriam-Webster, n.d.), I can relate to this feeling; discovering words on a page that jolt me towards a new way of thinking – thought-provoking, perspective-altering, and in some cases, even life-changing words on a page. At times, when I have thumbed through the pages of a good read, I have caught myself filled with readgret, thinking, where has this book been until now? I can’t believe how much I needed to read this!

Throughout my life, and I am guessing throughout the lives of my fellow book lovers, I have discoveredthese extraordinary works in various ways. For example, I have found significant reads through curated recommendation lists, suggestions from friends and colleagues, prescribed readings as an adult learner, or even from stumbling upon an article in an old magazine in the waiting room of my dentist’s office.

As a teaching and learning strategist and educator, my job includes maintaining a currency of theories, methods, pedagogical strategies, and tech skills, which results in, you guessed it, lots and lots of reading. But not everything I read can be paradigm-shifting, and I must make choices on where I should focus my attention. With such an abundance of literature available, I often debate what should be on my reading list that I will enjoy and find relevant and valuable in my role.

Enter book clubs for professional learning and development. Researchers have recognized the value of using book clubs as opportunities for educators to enhance their teaching and learning practices (Burbank et al., 2010; Hales et al., 2021, Porath, 2018), to shift mindsets and organizational culture (Grenier et al., 2021), to support more inclusive curriculum (Egan, 2021; Mensah; 2009), and for keeping up with tech-enhanced pedagogies (LaGarde & Winner, 2012). Book clubs for professional learning can be formal or informal, face to face or online, wholly synchronous, or allow for asynchronous discussion and connection opportunities, creating endless possibilities for topics and formats. There are also many benefits to book clubs for professional learning that recent scholars have noted (Egan, 2021; Grenier et al., 2021; Hales et al., 2021), including:

  • Learning from and with others in your field
  • Opportunities to take a deeper dive into topics you are interested in
  • Exposure to new and diverse perspectives and,
  • Space to explore and discuss challenging or controversial topics

Last year, I discovered an EdTech book club hosted by some amazing folks at Langara college, including Mirabelle Tinio, Julian Prior, and Briana Fraser; and I am so glad that I did! (#NoReadgrets). I have now participated in this book club twice, the first time in fall 2021, reading The Manifesto for Teaching Online (Bayne et al., 2020), and in early 2022, reading Should Robots Replace Teachers? AI and the future of education (Selwyn, 2022). This book club had existed long before I joined and is offered in a hybrid format, with some participants Zooming in and others joining in person. For both times I participated, I Zoomed in. Members of this book club include educators, instructional designers, and those in EdTech roles, making the participants and what they have to offer to the conversation diverse. Reading and exploring these topics with others piqued my curiosity, expanded my perspectives, and deepened my learning. As a bonus, the members enjoyed meeting on a human level; there was a sense of connection, the development of a community, and friendships. The group now plans to gather for a shared outing at the Vancouver Art Gallery, whose current exhibit, Artificial Intelligence The Imitation Game, explores “the extraordinary uses (and abuses) of artificial intelligence (AI) in the production of modern and contemporary visual culture around the world” (para. 1), aptly fitting with our latest shared read. The Langara book club plans to run again with the date yet to be determined, nevertheless, they will extend an invitation to members outside the Langara community, so stay tuned for a future opportunity!

With summer on the horizon, many KPU faculty and instructional staff will be taking time to travel, visit with family and friends, and rest a little. Nevertheless, a big chunk of that time will unavoidably include preparing for the fall semester. So why not consider a professional learning book club as an approach for preparing?

So, find a book club, join one, or start one; and turn your readgret into readlief!

Book club Suggestions:

Vancouver Public Library Book Lovers Reading Circle Online

BC Campus Book Club (Last met in Dec 2021 – see events on site for future club meetings)

Now Read This: NY Times and PBS online Book Club

Canadian Classic Book club (online discussion group with monthly reading list)

Lez Bookclub: LGBTQ authored selections (meet on FaceBook and Zoom)

The Netflix Book Club

References

Bayne, S., Evans, P., Ewins, R., Knox, J., Lamb, J., Macleod, H., O’Shea, C., Ross, J., Sheail, P., & Sinclair, C. (2020). The Manifesto for Teaching Online. MIT Press.

Burbank, M. D., Kauchak, D., & Bates, A. J. (2010). Book Clubs as Professional Development Opportunities for Preservice Teacher Candidates and Practicing Teachers: An Exploratory Study. The New Educator, 6(1), 56–73. https://doi.org/10.1080/1547688X.2010.10399588

Egan, A. (2021). Are We There Yet? Educators as LGBTQ Advocates and Book Clubs as Professional Development. LSU Doctoral Dissertations. https://digitalcommons.lsu.edu/gradschool_dissertations/5434

Grenier, R. S., Callahan, J. L., Kaeppel, K., and Elliott, C. (2021). Advancing book clubs as non-formal learning to facilitate critical public pedagogy in organizations. Management Learning.

Hales, P. D., Hasselquist, L., & Durr, T. (2021). Using Book Clubs to Support Inquiry in Teacher Education. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 21(2), 140–143.

LaGarde, J., & Winner, M. C. (2012). Level Up Book Club. Knowledge Quest, 41(2), 46–50.

Porath, S. L. (2018). A Powerful Influence: An Online Book Club for Educators. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 34(2), 115–128. https://doi.org/10.1080/21532974.2017.1416711

Mensah, F. M. (2009). Confronting assumptions, biases, and stereotypes in preservice teachers’ conceptualizations of science teaching through the use of book club. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(9), 1041–1066. https://doi.org/10.1002/tea.20299

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Bibliophile. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bibliophile

Schoemann-McCann, M. (2014, June 26). 15 New words for book nerds. https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/15-new-words-for-book-nerds/

Lisa Gedak
Teaching & Learning Strategist at | + posts

As one of KPU's Teaching & Learning Strategists, Lisa supports faculty through various methods, including workshops, webinars, and individual and group consultations.  She is passionate about instructional design, the intersection of pedagogy and technology, and philosophical approaches supporting learner-centred education. Lisa has her Master's in Learning and Technology (MALAT).

Similar Posts