Three Books to Revive Your Teaching: Favorite Teacher Reads
Updated: Aug 18, 2018
To follow up on my post about favorite classroom reads and some of the last minute advice I gave for new teachers, I wanted to share a post about my favorite professional reads about teaching.
Wild Card by Hope and Wade King
This book was all over my Instagram feed when I decided to read it, and I instantly understood why. It applies to teachers of all grade levels and uses a deck of cards as a metaphor for the role we play in our students' lives, "in the game of life, children have no control over the hand they are dealt. You, as the teacher, are the wild card that can make a difference in your students' lives". The entire book motivates teachers to make their classroom a place students WANT to be. A place where learning and fun are synonymous and refuses to validate any excuse that says otherwise. It gives you practical ideas, experiences from the authors, and reminds you why you wanted to become a teacher in the first place.
"If you argue for your limitations, you get to keep them"
"There's a good reason that comparison is said to be the thief of joy and the enemy of authenticity" (remember what I said about not comparing yourself to other teachers, they agree)
"If you want to create magic, you must never settle for 'good enough,' because that is what your students will become"
The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller
This book is a MUST read for anyone who teaches reading, English, or literacy in any form. This master teacher describes exactly how she turns her classroom into a community of readers. She does this by telling students they will read 100 books this year, but they don't take quizzes when they finish a book. Instead, she creates, "Conditions for Learning" that include the students being immersed by books, give the students responsibilities based on clear expectations, responds to their reading, and more (I can't give away all her secrets, unfortunately). I can guarantee that after you read this book, you will change your teaching for the better. I can't that your teaching will change without some work and adjustments on your part, but you will be motivated and happy to make these adjustments.
Using "Status of the Class" to follow up on with what my students are reading has been a huge change in how students read in my classroom and at home. I am going to do a blog post on this soon! If you want the TPT product I use, get it here!
Teach Like Finland by Timothy D Walker
This book completely challenges how we as a culture approach education in the United States. Does the author the expect us as individual teachers to storm the government and demand changes? No. But, it gives ideas and suggestions on how to make adjustments that are in the best interest of our students as well as ourselves. I will share my favorite three:
Our students need breaks from learning, and often. Pay attention to when you start losing your students' attention and engagement, stop then and do a brain break. Then, the next day, stop five minutes before that point and give them a brain break. That could mean they eat their snack, chat with neighbors, play a go noodle (if you do not use go noodle, stop now and sign up it is free and you'll thank me later).
Do not pride yourself on being stressed out or burned out as a teacher, that does not prove you are working hard that means you need a lesson in self-care.
Project Based Learning (PBL)/Thematic Units
This ties into what Wild Card teaches as well, make instruction relevant and engaging with high-interest PBL and thematic units. Pick a topic that you find exciting, identify standards/skills you need to teach, and combine the two for ultimate learning!
But how do these books connect? Why are they my favorites of all the teaching books I have read?
These are easy reads that will have you engaged. I guess I am like one of my students in this way. I don't want what I am reading to feel like homework, and these books don't.
They give you clear steps and actions to take to improve your teaching and motivates you to reflect on your teaching and make some changes before the school year starts.
They all emphasize that above all things, we need to be making personal connections with each student as an individual. This is the golden rule for teachers. This DOES NOT mean do whatever it takes to be liked by your students; we are not babysitters. It means we have high expectations, firm consequences, and your students know you care about them.