I read. Two simple words that may not accurately capture the experience for many of us in education. I read a lot of material for my subject matter, which is English. I read for entertainment, because I have always loved to read. While in college, I realized early on that to maintain the GPA I wanted, I would have to put aside the fiction that I loved until summer. It was not unusual for me to read 100 books during the summer of my college years. I starved for reading fiction during the fall and spring semesters. Starved. Like belly-button sucking on backbone kind of starved.
As an educator, I also read to grow in my craft. I am never satisfied with my lessons, my teaching, my classroom, you name it. I continually search for ways to do things better, to help my students connect with and apply concepts, to think critically, to evaluate, to be productive.
This summer, I have a lot of reading to do. My list of books I want to read is growing (but don’t tell my husband…). I have begun already with a few books, participating in (Lead Like A Pirate) and leading (Instant Relevance) book studies, and there are more on my radar, besides the regular fiction authors that I love. So here goes a few on my radar, in no particular order, and why I’ve chosen them:
Lead Like A Pirate
This book, written by Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf, was one I was very excited about, and it is living up to my expectations. I’m in a weekly Twitter chat book study over this book, and the practical advice and examples have provided several “A HA!” moments for me. I love the way the two authors alternate the narration, describe their backgrounds and actual situations they’ve experienced, and provide lots of “what works.” The line I highlighted below in my #BookSnaps is just what I needed to read after this school year, because I struggled throughout to lead my department productively. The mix of personalities and how to mesh them so that we could accomplish the work was at times very frustrating for me. This book will help leaders in any role find ways to connect and lead all of those different personalities to accomplish the shared vision.
This book, written by Denis Sheeran, is a must for today’s educators. It will walk you through how to make your class, your subject matter, instantly relevant to your students. As an English teacher, I often figured that students would naturally know why it was important to work on their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. What I didn’t anticipate was the natural resistance high school sophomores have to grammar, and reading, and vocabulary. The list goes on. Denis lays out a ton of examples of how he uses every day things to teach math, and each section ends with questions to help the rest of us think about applications for our own classrooms. According to Denis, if students are interested in something, and you can figure out a way to use it in either your main lesson or in a warm up activity, something, you will not only ramp up the engagement in your classroom, but you also make your class suddenly and instantly relevant to your students. But don’t take my word for it, read the book.
How to Implement Gradual Changes for MASSIVE Impact in Your Classroom
Okay, I’ll confess that I am actually intrigued by the title, and yes, I have judged and then purchased at least one book based on its cover (Stephen King’s Bag of Bones), so I could justify getting this one just because I like Shift This! for the title. However, I am always up for MASSIVE impact in my classroom, I want my classroom to be more student-led than teacher-driven, I want to offer personalized learning that meets the needs of the individuals, and I’m certainly in favor of and want to build a sense of real community in my classroom and in my school. Besides all of those great things, this book by Joy Kirr promises that real change is possible, sustainable, and even easy when it happens little by little. I haven’t bought or read this one yet, (which didn’t prevent me from creating a #BookSnaps of it), but it’s on my summer reading list for sure.
Escaping the School Leader’s Dunk Tank:
How to Prevail When Others Want to See You Drown
Last but in no way least, this book is also on my to purchase this summer list. I’ve seen a lot of discussion about this book on Twitter, and again, I am drawn in by the title. When I looked it up on Amazon, the blurb about the book’s message also sold me on this one:
“No school leader is immune to the dunk tank—the effects of discrimination, bad politics, revenge, or ego-driven coworkers. In Escaping the School Leader’s Dunk Tank, Rebecca Coda and Rick Jetter share real-life stories and insightful research to equip school leaders with the practical knowledge and emotional tools necessary to survive and, better yet, avoid getting ‘dunked.'”
I have encountered several of those at different times in my teaching career. I just completed year 21 in education, so I’m not new to this game. I’m no spring chicken. And again, I am always pushing myself, trying new technologies and pedagogy, and I constantly want to drag others down the path of growing and learning with me. I often meet with resistance, which always puzzles me, and sometimes I feel engulfed by the negativity toward the progress I constantly push myself toward. I see the looks. I see the whispered conversations. I feel myself grow silent during district workshops when my views bring out antagonism where I expected camaraderie and a meeting/melding of the minds. I see colleagues taking aim. So, before the ball hits the target, and I am slammed into the cold water of the tank, I plan to read this book. I want to avoid the dunk, but if that’s not possible, then I’m counting on the practical knowledge and emotional tools in this book to aid me when my feet hit the floor of the tank, so that I can make the strong push back toward the surface.