A Better Year Ahead: Five Books about Teaching to Help You Get There

December 22, 2020


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With 2020 drawing to a close, and with the arrival of promising new vaccines, many of us are hopeful for a better year to come. While we know it will take time, we look forward to the more opportunities to gather with students, colleagues, and friends. We also know that there will be new challenges: How will we manage classrooms where students have increasingly divergent skills and abilities? How can we best support students who have lost family or suffered trauma while away from school? How can we continue to nurture our own health and wellbeing in the face of such difficulties? To prepare for the promise and potential challenges on the road ahead, consider exploring one ore more of these five favorite teaching books below. Whether you read them “cover to cover” or just keep them on your bedside and read a chapter here and there, you are sure to find something useful to help you – and your students – in 2021.


The Mindful School Leader

With teacher stress at an all-time high, consider starting the year with a book that focuses on your own wellbeing. If you’ve been interested in learning more about mindfulness and how it can help you, this book is a great place to start. While the authors focus on how mindful practices can help administrators face daily challenges, every teacher can relate to their common stressors: long hours, demanding expectations, and difficulty balancing professional and personal life. With a blend of practical advice and simple activities, this book provides a no-frills entry into mindfulness that can help everyone feel less stressed and more positive. When you’re done, you can pass it along to your favorite colleague or principal. V. Brown & K. Olson, Corwin, 2015.

Fostering Resilient Learners: Strategies for Creating a Trauma-Sensitive Classroom

Whether you are new to trauma-informed teaching or are looking for new perspectives to strengthen your practice, I can’t recommend this book enough. Written in clear, conversational-style language, the text describes the science behind trauma and how overwhelming experiences, from generational poverty to family loss, can impact a students’ ability to function in school. Equally important, the authors discuss how students’ trauma impacts teachers – and how teachers can expand their thinking to create classrooms that sustain even the most vulnerable students. I can’t imagine a more important book to read as we work to support students in the coming years. K. Souers & P. Hall, ASCD, 2016.

Dealing with Difficult Parents, 2nd Edition

Communicating with parents is one of the most challenging and potentially stressful tasks that teachers face. For many, this task became even more challenging during distance learning, when parents became more involved in students’ day-to-day activities. This book is an excellent resource because it provides teachers with some perspective on the struggles parents face at home and how those impact their relationship with the school. It is also filled with practical strategies to foster better conversations and even deliver bad news, if the need arises. If you are a mentor teacher, a copy of this book can be a great gift for new teachers, too. T. Whitaker & D. Fiore, Routledge, 2015.

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