Every teacher has heard this joke:
What are three reasons why teachers teach?
Answer: June, July, and August
There is no doubt that summer is an important time for teachers—it’s a time to recharge, to reconnect with family, and to have some fun. But that doesn’t mean that teachers stop working. In fact, many teachers continue some form of work during the summer, whether it’s summer school, designing lessons for the upcoming school year, or spending time catching up on professional reading through book studies. In fact, according to The Brookings Institute, “teachers work 21.5 hours per week during the summer.” That’s heavy--especially considering that these hours are entirely off the clock. And yet, clearly, as educators, we love learning just as much or more as our students do--it can be hard to turn it off.
During the summer, I like to engage in some “light” reading on pedagogy—I enjoy having time to reflect and chew on the ideas for a while, having a buffer of time available before anything would need to be put into practice. Some years, I'll join or help form a book group; other years, I’ll find a few books on my own that complement and drive my work in the coming year.
And who better to find a great set of books to pull from than other educators? So, seeking some fresh titles on current topics, I decided to ask the experts: teachers.
I put this question out to my teacher-friends, near and far: Teacher-friends, what is the most helpful book you’ve read for your personal professional development?
And I received tons of input—thank you to everyone who suggested a title! (We are such an awesome community, aren’t we?) I’ve taken the expansive list, and curated a top ten, just for you. I’ve tried to include either a review, a video of the author, or something else related to each title for you to look at as you make your choice. If you decide to go for it with any of these titles (or a pile of them, if you’re like me—I just bought two of these books and I’m considering a third!), please consider buying from a local, independent bookseller. Yes, it may take a week or so for them to get it, but meanwhile you can go hang out in the shade with your beverage of choice and decompress—you deserve it!
Here’s the curated list, straight from educators, just like you, who are always striving to get better at their practice:
As educators, it’s important to recognize that we all have different needs at different times--and each one of us is on our own path towards pedagogical growth. I’ve got a small pile of books on my nightstand that I intend to spend some time with this summer, and many of them are related to teaching--because I love the art of teaching. However, if you need to turn it off for a while, you should! One teacher unabashedly recommended The Professional Bartender’s Handbook.
But consider this: what if you found a teacher-friend to read a book with and then also learned how to make a few impressive cocktails to share during your book chat meetings? Sounds like a win-win to me.
Teacher-friends, enjoy your summer--you deserve it! And I hope that you’ll take what you need this summer to be ready to head back into the classroom with gusto this coming fall.
Cindy Shapiro is long-time teacher living in Colorado. She is the founder of Teacher Says, a budding podcast and website designed with the idea in mind of listening to and raising up teachers' voices. She has two school-aged children. Her book, For the Love of (Remote) Teaching is available on Amazon for Kindle.