Administration, General, Teaching

Summer Reading to Sharpen Your Skills

Summer break is the perfect time to dive into a summer reading book, refresh your teaching outlook, and inspire new classroom practices.  As professionals in the education field, we have dedicated our lives to pursuing lifelong learning and sharing that with our students.  Therefore, we must lead by example!

Here is a list of some popular and relevant pedagogy titles for you to consider:

1. Creative Thinking Classrooms by Garfield Gini-Newman The title alone is alluring.  This is a great resource if you’re looking for more engaging, out of the box ideas to get your students motivated and feel creatively free.  As all teachers know, giving students more choice and the freedom to work independently is a great idea in theory, but it can be difficult to implement.  This book is a roadmap for how you can orchestrate it in your own classroom.

2. STEAM Makers by Jacie Maslyk Geared towards elementary levels, this book outlines step by step ways to foster curiosity and implement STEAM and Maker spaces into your classroom.  Practical and easy to use, this is a great place to start if you’re looking for ways to integrate STEAM into your classes.

Design Thinking for School Leaders: Five Roles and Mindsets That Ignite Positive Change by [Gallagher, Alyssa, Thordarson, Kami]

3. Design Thinking for School Leaders by Alyssa Gallagher and Kami Thordarson This one is for the team leaders and school administrators!  Filled with examples, the authors show how to re-think the way you lead by using “design thinking”.  Through empathy and a shift in perspective, you can see great improvement in your school’s climate and culture. By detailing five specific roles that leaders need to learn, you will become more connected with your students, teachers, staff, and community.

4. Fewer Things, Better by Angela Watson Here is the perfect choice for you if you feel like you never stop working but you’re not getting anywhere.  Watson encourages teachers to take a step back, put down the pen, and recognize that they can’t do it all.  Instead, we need to pick the most important things and focus on improving those.  And although she is targeting teachers, it’s helpful for all areas of life.  She encourages her readers to stop giving in to the pressure to always be busy and instead find peace in tending to the things that really matter.

The Brain Power Classroom: 10 Essentials for Focus, Mindfulness, and Emotional Wellness by [Beal, Dave]

5. The Brain Power Classroom by Dave Beal Reader-friendly, the first section of this book gives you all the scientific background that supports this approach, as well as advice as to how to improve classroom climate.  The second part of the book supplies you with 30 practical classroom activities to optimize student engagement in your curriculum, focusing on movement, mindfulness, other focusing strategies.

6. Troublemakers by Carla Shalaby If you ended your school year feeling burnt out and maybe even a little angry at some of your students, this read might be one that you need.  The author is a former elementary school teacher, and in her book, she writes about four case studies with “troubled” students.  Her purpose is to show that no matter what, each student is unique, valuable, and capable of learning and change.

7. The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller I recommend this one to all my English or reading teachers out there.  Year after year we have students who claim they “hate reading”, but Miller swears she has yet to find a student she couldn’t turn into a reader. In her classroom, students read up to 50 books a year, and they love it!

8.  The First Days of School by Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong A best-seller and understandably so, this is a must read for all new teachers.  The basic principle of the book is that the tone you set on the first day of school is how you can expect the tone to be the remainder of the school year. It walks teachers through setting up classroom rules and expectations so that your school year can run smoothly and effectively.

9. With Rigor for All  by Carol Jago It’s not just ELA teachers who struggle with getting their students to complete reading homework–it’s all classes! This book changed the way I incorporate independent reading in my classroom by making me stop and think about the messages we send subliminally and how we make reading seem like a punishment rather than a privilege. Luckily, she includes many strategies that can counteract the stigma we have placed on reading and writing.

The Burnout Cure: Learning to Love Teaching Again by [Mielke, Chase]

10. The Burnout Cure by Chase Mielke At the conclusion of yet another school year, you may be feeling burnt out and in need of some R&R. While you are doing that, maybe crack this one open. Written by a teacher, Mielke draws from his own experiences to help you re-evaluate your purpose, rekindle your passion for this line of work, and change your perspective to one that is more positive.  To be the best teacher you can be, you need to be the best you.