Two weeks ago I posted a list of books that are essential reading for math teachers. This week I am focusing on general reading that any teacher could benefit from. This selection of books reflects the diversity of my teaching experience in urban schools. Try to round out your knowledge base with some of the books below!
#1 Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?
by Beverly Daniel Tatum, PH.D.
I would say this is essential reading for any white educator. Period. Not just in urban schools, but anywhere. This book unpacks the psychology of racial identity development which all people in our society go through. You may find as a white person you are stuck and need a little push to move forward in your journey. If you are a Person Of Color, it is still a great read; I just can’t speak on what your reading experience may be like. Our students are going through their own journeys of racial identity development and it’s important for all of us to be aware of that. We all have a responsibility to better this world; it’s why you became a teacher! This book will open your eyes to so much! Pick it up if you haven’t read it.
#2 Intense Minds: Through the Eyes of Young People with Bipolar Disorder by Tracy Anglada
In several of my internship experiences and during my first year in my current district, I taught students with Bipolar disorder. This book was given to all of my classmates as part of a private family donation so that teachers could develop a better understanding of bipolar disorder. Just as the title implies, it is an intense read, so I wouldn’t take it to the beach. Try a chapter, or half, in the morning with your coffee and leave some processing time. Having support when working with students with mental illness is critical.
#3 Designing Groupwork: Strategies for the Heterogenous Classroom by Elizabeth G. Cohen and Rachel A. Lotan
Anything we can do to ensure equitable group work is a must try. I rarely ever use a homogenous grouping method because of the research by Jo Boaler (see my math books post). Working in groups is such a complex interaction that we need to take care to understand it at a deeper level so we can maximize learning for our students. This book will help you develop strategies for how to do so from before groupwork begins to using groupwork throughout the year.
#4 Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
This is a newer book that I read last December. Without realizing it, I was suggesting strategies from the book at FBA (Functional Behavior Assessment) conferences and IEP meetings. Case managers and parents alike have found my suggestions insightful and it’s really me just applying my learning from this book. I originally borrowed it from the library for me, so that I could improve my own habits. But in true educator fashion, I found a million connections to school and to my students. If you are someone who values teaching students how to do school, how to learn, and how to act in a professional setting, you will love this book.
#5 Embedded Formative Assessment by Dylan Wiliam
My mentor teacher gave this to me six years ago and I have carried it with me from classroom to classroom. Wiliam provides so many examples of how you can formatively assess your students without them really realizing it. The strategies add diversity to your classroom routine and provide ways for students to self assess also. His whole approach is about “providing feedback that moves learning forward.”
Get reading! Let me know what other books you consider essential reading in the comments below.