One of the reasons I love summer is because I finally get to catch up on my never ending list of books that I have created on Goodreads. I love everything Responsive Classroom so whenever they publish a new book I must buy it. There is a big push for the use of Responsive Classroom in Fairfax County so we are all trained but there is a plethora of resources available to help teachers of all grades.
I think the book that I reference the most is The Power of Our Words. Have you ever walked by a teacher's classroom or overheard a teacher correct in the hallway with a sarcastic comment or "Really?!" What happens when someone responds to use sarcastically or with a particular tone? If you ask my husband, my face usually says it all but I will basically stop listening. It is important to build powerful relationships with students before you even begin teaching. If everyone stopped to think about what they say before they say it, there would be a lot more kindness in the world. This is a must read for me because it really got me thinking about what I say in the classroom and how I speak to others in my building as well. You can find the book on Amazon by clicking on the book below or via Responsive Classroom's website, where you will find all of their great books.
Next up is Interactive Modeling: A Powerful Technique to Teaching Children. We often forget how much we actually have to teach children in school. I remember when I switched to first grade years ago, I saw a kid carrying scissors improperly and a colleague mentioned how she and the kids both modeled how to carry the scissors. You can also find videos on their YouTube channel. Even if you teach older students, they still need to practice lining up, cleaning up, or knowing what your expectations are when you need their attention. When students are guided via interactive modeling, expectations are defined; questions are answered; a visual example is given; and students are given time to practice the expectations. I believe that interactive modeling is one of the most powerful pieces of instruction at the beginning of the school year. This book offers up suggestions of suggestions for each age group and even provides you with example scripts for you to use in your classroom. Don't miss out on this read before the start of the school year!
I read this book just last week even though I have had it since Christmas 2013! What Teachers Make is an insightful book of the ups and downs of teaching. After the author, Taylor was insulted by a lawyer about the choice to be a teacher he decided to write a poem about what teachers actually make. The poem went viral and inspired him to inspire others to take on the profession of teaching. In the end, he inspires over 1,000 people to become teachers only from hearing his experiences. He even throws in some advice based on his personal experiences. This is a great gift for a teacher! One of those books that you should just keep on your desk when you need a little reminder on a trying day! We have all been there and usually some inspiring words work better than a glass of wine. However, I usually go for both :)
This next book is published for grades K-6 and is a great resource for teachers who are new to the grade. It provides information about the development of 10-11 years old, which I always find very interesting. Some of the information can be very helpful when forming schedules or thinking about expecations in general. For example, she talks about how fifth graders should have multiple snack breaks because they grow so much during this age range and are frequently hungry. She also talks about how you should have assigned seats during morning meeting because they are typically so social that more issues than usual can arise when you ask them to transition to morning meeting. There are a lot of small pieces of useful information that truly created one of those "ah ha" moments for me. It is also a REALLY quick read and can be easily referenced.
I saved the best for last! I had this book donated to me via DonorsChoose a while back but sadly ran out of time to read it before the end of the year. I finally sat down to read it last week as I was finishing up summer school. This book connects to "Interactive Modeling" that I mentioned earlier. I found this book to be very powerful because I find that most of my powerful teaching moments come from group discussions when analyzing a problem of the day or introducing a new mathematical strategy. Students hate to be wrong and are often reluctant to share if they think they do not understand, however, there is a lot of power behind the sentence starter of "I respectfully disagree ..." because it means that the other student analyzed the mistake of the student. With that being said, there are some great lessons on how to teach the students to respond to one another, develop a better mindset for thinking, and how to be a better listeners. I think these are all great skills that everyone could use a little more practice with.