If you’re like me and have been out of college for a while, you may have forgotten the inspiration that comes from reading a good book on pedagogy. With summer break right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to find one that will spark your teacher-fatigued brain.
- The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher by Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong
This book was gifted to me at the school where I had my first long-term substitute position. Because this was my first gig other than student teaching, I was understandably terrified. However, I read the majority of this book before the first day and was so thankful that I did. 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.
College may teach you how to write up a lesson plan and the best strategies for group work but rarely do professors touch on student behavior. And, let’s be honest, the behavior, motivation, and attitude of your student’s fuels your class. No matter how great your plans are, if your students are defiant and unmotivated you won’t get anywhere. This was assigned to me in one of my Master’s courses, and it resonated with me more than any other “teacher book” I have read. Unlike many books, the author has 30 + years experience in the classroom and offers practical strategies that you can implement seamlessly. He stresses that “all behavior is purposeful” and how the actions of a teacher plays an instrumental role in the behavior of his/her students.
- Causes & Cures in the Classroom: Getting to the Root of Academic and Behavior Problems by Margaret Searle
I was handed this at a professional development workshop, and I felt it worthy of the list because of its strategies, tools, and examples via case studies. What did I find most helpful? The Root Causes of Poor Attention and Focus chart, and also the action plans made for students in the case studies were wonderful as models.
Ask any English teacher what their biggest qualm is, and I’ll bet they say it’s the task of getting students to read. It’s not just ELA teachers who struggle with getting their students to complete reading homework–it’s all classes! Jago stresses that we cannot, “be afraid of telling students they need to work hard”. This book even changed the way I incorporate independent reading in my classroom by making me realize that, “by offering extrinsic incentives for completing a novel, we inadvertently send students the message that no one would read this book for pleasure”. The book makes the reader 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 World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century by Thomas L. Friedman
I wouldn’t exactly call this a “teacher book,” but I recommend it for teachers because it reminds us of the end game for our students. Really, our goal is to make our students capable of functioning at a career in the “real world.” Teaching now is so much different than teaching even 20 years ago because of technology. This book inspires educators to reach out and utilize the platform technology has given us. Plus, it’s super interesting.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Friedman:
“When I think back on my favorite teachers, I don’t remember the specifics of what they taught me, but I sure remember being excited about learning it. What has stayed with me are not the facts they imparted but the excitement about learning they inspired. To learn how to learn, you have to love learning–or you have to at least enjoy it–because so much learning is about being motivated to teach yourself. And while it seems that some people are just born with that motivation, many others can develop it or have it implanted with the right teacher” (Friedman, pg. 310).
Read our previous blog post discussing When to Reorganize your Classroom here
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This article is written by Lauren Bubb, an English Teacher at Frankfort-Schuyler Central Schools
To reach Lauren, please contact here.