Summer of Learning and Summer of Fun


by Jodi Meier

Almost all school employees, whether they are teachers, instructional assistants or administrators, begin to make plans for the summer break before spring break even arrives! We plan for trips, birthdays, conferences, summer school, and household projects.  Most educators are planners: calendars and ExCel spreadsheets are our friends!  But when you planned for June, July and August, did you plan what to READ?  I mean, besides the top 10 “Oprah” best sellers?  Many of us look forward to having the time to read for pleasure, maybe lying on a beach with the latest John Grisham novel, but do you have any professional reading planned? As an educational and professional book junkie, I have some suggestions for some great professional books to make your summer relaxing AND productive:

  1. Kids Deserve It! Pushing Boundaries and Challenging Conventional Thinking by Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome.  This book will fire you up and excite you. It will reinvigorate your thinking and your outlook on teaching.  The authors encourage you to think big and make learning fun and meaningful for students. I absolutely loved it!  Reading this book will make you happy to be a teacher! You can also follow the authors on Twitter and there is a monthly #kidsdeserveit Twitter chat.  
  2. The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy by Jon Gordon. This book doesn’t just apply to education, it applies to life!  This allegory is the story of George and his ride on a city bus with a helpful bus driver named Joy.  She and the other passengers teach him the 10 rules for dealing with problems with his work and his family. Interestingly, there is also The Energy Bus for Kids with online support materials.
  3. Teach Like A Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator by Dave Burgess. According to Dave Burgess, pirates are “daring and adventurous.  They reject the status quo and refuse to conform to any society that stifles creativity and independence.” One of the bonuses of this book is that it includes 30 hooks and 170 brainstorming questions.  A related book on my “to read” list is Lead Like a Pirate by Shelley Burgess, Dave’s wife. There is also a thriving #TLAP Twitter group and monthly discussions.
  4. The Growth Mindset Coach: A Teacher’s Month-by-Month Handbook for Empowering Students to Achieve by Annie Brock and Heather Hundley.  This is the book that got me interested in teaching growth mindset and how the brain works to my primary special education students.  Not only do the authors explain brain research in very understandable terms, but they provide month-by-month lesson plans and activity ideas.   Each chapter also supplies songs, videos, and books to go along with each month’s theme.
  5. For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood…..and the Rest of Y’all Too by Christopher Emdin.  I haven’t read this book yet.  It just came in the mail from Amazon.  The subtitle is “Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education” and I don’t see how any educator working with children of color would not need to read this book.  I can’t wait to dive into it!

BONUS:  You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living An Awesome Life by Jen Sincero.  This book is not for everyone, but I found it inspiring.  It is NOT a professional book for educators, but there are so many kernels of practical life knowledge in it.  Give it a shot.

There are so many to read and there is so little time.  The honorable mentions on my to-read list include:   

I would like to add this all of these books were either recommended to me by teacher leaders/authors/educators I have connected with on Twitter or by educators I have met through JCPSForward, at ECET2LOU, or at the Jefferson County Public Schools Deeper Learning Symposium. I want to know which book(s) you choose to read and what you learned from it.  I welcome your book recommendations!  Have a great summer of fun AND learning.  Happy reading!