Shift This! Book Review

Author: Joy Kirr
Book Link

This was another recommendation from a colleague about a way to completely transform the classroom. As someone who’s still getting his feet back in the waters, any advice passed along my way is always appreciated.

If I were to summarize this book in one sentence: put the students’ best interest first.

Kirr spends time talking about the major shifts she has made in her classroom, all starting from very small changes. Each change shifted her classroom culture, which caused her to implement another… and another.

I appreciate she’s actually speaking from experience and not merely from something theoretical.

There’s no doubt education is going through a transformation. Between the disruption of technology, unlimited access to information and the automation of our cognitive jobs (“white collar” work), our bell-style “sage on a stage” education has to change.

Kirr understands this and the shifts she makes in her classroom are a reflection of it.

There are a few chapters I highlighted and noted to death (especially the chapter on grading – my goodness that chapter is solid gold) and there were a few sections I personally wouldn’t use. Twitter, for instance, is something she strongly advocates educators use to chat with others.

I closed my Twitter account months ago for many reasons (even after having a solid following), but the biggest one is its ability to take away my focus. I would rather be creating content and reading deeply, rather than curating small bytes of information that would require me to do the deep work anyway. This is just a personal stance.

What I loved, and don’t see very often in books about educational practices, is Kirr does not back away from the struggles to make this type of classroom work. She does not present her class as some kind of utopia for implementing her changes.

She speaks about the struggles with getting the students on board, her colleagues and the parents.

I have already begun shifting my classroom before reading this book, but now I’m ready to make some bigger leaps.