Summer Reading for Educational (and other) Growth
The summer is a time to get away from teaching, to read widely, to enjoy literature. It can also be a time for reading to enhance your educational skills, to gain new perspectives, and to grow as a teacher or leader.
Below are some suggestions for summer education reading that I have found interesting and worthwhile. If you read these as well, I hope you find them helpful, enjoyable, and interesting. There is no particular order to these books and readings.
1. Carol Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success and Brock and Hundley, The Growth Mindset Coach.
These two books provide both a new way of thinking about your students, but also a practical how to empower your students to achieve. Easy to read, well written for those of us who are not psychologists. Will give you new insights into why some of your students are not successful, and how to help them.
2. Another book that focuses on character and dispositions that make a difference is Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.
Most educators have heard about the power of grit, perseverance, determination, but if you want to get a first hand view of the research related to grit, how grit makes a difference, and suggestions on how to increase grit, this is the book for you.
3. Eric Jensen. Poor Students, Rich Teaching: Mindsets for Change.
Eric Jensen , a former teacher and now major author and synthesizer of brain research, has written a book that explains the kind of teaching students who live in poverty need to succeed. The book offers little specific practical advice, but provides a road map for changing one’s thinking about the needs of students living in poverty and what we as educators need to do to help these students succeed.
4. Ritchhart, Church and Morrison. Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners.
This book focuses on how to create a culture for thinking in a school and classroom. Its practical power lies in the suggested “thinking routines” that can elevate the level of thinking and “put thinking first”. Some very good ideas that can make a big difference in how your students think.
5. Wagner and Dintersmith. Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing our kids for the innovation era.
Tony Wagner, an education expert, and Ted Dintersmith, a venture capitalist, have teamed up to suggest that we need new approaches to education in this rapidly changing world. The book shares insights from schools, teachers and students from across the country on what changes seem to be making a difference, how they are done, and why.
6. Curwin, Mendler, and Mendler, Discipline with Dignity: How to Build Responsibility, Relationships and Respect in Your Classroom. Fourth edition.
This book has been around for a long time, and this updated version takes into account the latest research and ideas on how to manage classrooms more effectively. Lots of really good suggestions and practice advice on how to improve classroom management and support students at the same time.
7. Greg McKeown. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.
While this book focuses on how to unclutter your life and focus on what’s essential, it also provides a useful principle for teaching as well. The idea of focusing teaching goals on what’s essential and important is a good way to unclutter your teaching and focus it on some really important long term goals that can make a difference in your student’s lives. A good book for helping you both with you life and your classroom and school.
8. Himmele and Himmele. Total Participation Techniques: making Every Student an Active learner.
I found this book to be REALLY useful to all teachers and educators. Its focus is on how to increase student engagement, and it has many specific practice activities and strategies for doing so. If you’re looking for ideas to improve engagement that are not time consuming and make a lot of sense, this is the book for you.
9. Byrk, Gomez, Grunow, and LeMahieu, Learning to Improve: How America’s Schools Can Get Better at Getting Better.
This book is not for everyone., but it is a must read for anyone interested in school improvement issues and suggestions. It begins with a discussion of why schools have not improved over time as much as they should have, and then suggests the use of learning networks as a vehicle for improving schools in the future. It gives several specific examples of how networks of schools have banded together to improve specific literacy issues.
10. There are of course, multiple articles in journals and blogs that are worth reading, but one that I found especially interesting appeared in Phi Delta Kappan magazine, March 2018 – Guy Claxton, Deep Rivers of Learning . He uses “the learning river” to suggest a series of levels of learning, the deepest level focusing on “attitudes and dispositions”. This won’t take long to read, but it might change your view of teaching and learning.
11. Of course, there are many commentaries and blogs that can be helpful and interesting. ASCD Edge has many – for example, I urge you to look at my series of commentaries on deep learning on ASCD Edge. Edutopia is a wonderful site for insights into teaching and learning. Jay McTighe’s website contains a wealth of information about Teaching for Understanding and Understanding by Design. S
So take some time for yourself, enjoy the summer, but also spend some quality time with readings that help you grow and learn!
Elliott Seif is a long time educator, teacher, college professor, curriculum director, ASCD author and Understanding by Design cadre member and trainer. He currently continues to write about and address educational issues and volunteers his time in the Philadelphia School District. His other many commentaries can be found on ASCD Edge, and his website can be found at: www.era3learning.org.