I've been doing a lot more reading lately. I have a reverse commute, so I always get a seat on the subway, and I reserve that time for reading. Usually, it's novels - anything to take my mind off work. But sometimes I slip in some educational reading. Plus, the school where I teach now has summer reading for teachers and the books these past 3 summers have been incredible. So here are my top 5 book recommendations for teachers:
1. Whistling Vivaldi by Claude Steele
This book is an incredible look at stereotype threat. It doesn't just focus on education, but how stereotypes and stereotype threat affect people in all areas of their lives. For anyone who has ever thought, "Well, I'm not racist," or wondered if he/she was imagining a veiled insult, this book is for you. As a teacher, I realized how not mentioning scientists of other races or genders inherently perpetuated the idea that all science is done by old white men, but more importantly that this may unintentionally impact the performance of my female students and students of color. As a person of color myself, I realized that even I can perpetuate these ideas. It was a great read and very insightful.
2. Mindset by Carol Dweck
Dweck's work has been cited by many educational institutions since it came out a few years ago. This book investigated the difference between people with a fixed mindset (I have certain characteristics that are fundamentally unchangeable) and people with a growth mindset (if I work hard, I can change my abilities). This fascinating book helped me notice traits of fixed mindset in my students and work to help them develop more of a growth mindset. I highly recommend this book for every teacher.
3. 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey
This book has been around for a while, but I only came across it recently. Not only should every high school teacher read this book, but every high school student should also read this book. The writing is engaging and the habits Covey proposes could change the course of a student's life.
4. Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
This book isn't about teaching, but it is about memory and therefore it is about how we learn and retain information. It discusses such ideas as memory palaces (any Sherlock fans will know what this is, though if you read the book you'll discover it is different from the popular depiction in some ways). I found it helpful in thinking about how I present information to students. What techniques will make my lesson memorable and help students retain information? A very helpful and engaging read.
5. Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon
This book was on the NYTimes Bestseller List last year and lived up to the hype. It is a hefty read, some 700+ pages, but was fascinating from cover to cover. Solomon explores what he calls "horizontal identity", identities such as dwarfism, autism and Down syndrome, which a child usually does not share with his or her parents. This close look at difference and how it feels to be different has all kinds of applications in the classroom. How do you teach a student with autism or a musical prodigy? What needs do they have that are different from other students and what needs are the same? Again, this is not a book about teaching, but one that I feel can enlighten teachers of many diverse students.
Hope you enjoy reading these book! If you have other suggestions you think should be on this list, post in the comments below.