Summer vacation is just days away for us here in the Northeast! Never before have I felt more driven and excited to dive into my summer stack of professional books. Truth be told, this is the first summer where I have intentionally selected a stack. I credit my tribe, or I should say tribes, for this shift. Making plans to discuss, and in some cases facilitate, discussion of professional texts has energized my summer reading.
Knowing that there is a lot of reading I intend to do this summer including reading children’s literature with diverse characters, reading books selected with my daughters and of course, those compelling novels perfect for a relaxing summer afternoon, I have tried to set a realistic goal for my professional reading. I was tempted to add to my stack but decided to prioritize texts according to which ones I could rally others to join me in digesting. So here is my stack and the tribes with whom I plan to read.
Tribe: Cyber PD #Cyberpd
This is probably the book that I am most excited to read. One day while planning at our favorite local coffee shop, AKA “our office”, Shelley held up this text and said, “This is so you.” She was right! This book addresses the need to teach social comprehension and give students space and support to discuss and digest topics such as race, gender, politics, sexuality, and religion. Is so timely! Listening to Sara Ahmed’s interview on the Heinemann Podcast sold me! She explains that her father and his positive, accepting and loving nature is at the heart of this book. I was delighted when Cyber PD selected it to be this summer’s read. This will be my first time joining this tribe so I am looking forward to connecting with educators from all over the world and hearing their thoughts on this book.
Text: Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators, by Elena Aguilar
Tribe: A colleague at school
This spring I devoted some time during grade level meetings to share some of my favorite podcasts with my colleagues. I called it “Easy PD” because you can listen to them as you drive, make dinner or pack up your classroom for summer. Right after one of these meetings, a colleague came to me and said that he just listened to Jennifer Gonzalez’s interview with author Elena Aguilar on the Cult of Pedagogy and would I be interested in reading her book, Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators, together. Yes! I replied. I, too, had listened to the interview and was intrigued by the book and workbook that goes along with it. But if this teacher hadn’t approached me, I’m not sure if I would have rushed to buy the books. The way this book works is you read a chapter and complete daily activities one month at a time. This is one that I can read in small chunks as I move through this next year. When I mentioned it to members of my literacy co-op, they asked if I could share some of the activities during our monthly meetings this coming school year.
Text: Student-Centered Coaching and Student-Centered Coaching: The Moves by Diane Sweeney
Tribe: Shelley and other local literacy coaches.
Confession, this one I already finished but I haven’t discussed it with my tribe yet so I’m including it. I couldn’t put it down. It inspired me to reflect on my coaching experiences so far and consider ways to make this job more focused on student work. I am moving into my 4th year of coaching and my focus has been on implementing the Teachers’ College Units of Studies. I look forward to working with my tribe to plan for ways to organize data meetings and work with classroom and reading teachers to analyze and plan using assessment walls. Diane Sweeney had so many salient points about school culture and the dynamics of the adult learner. This book is a nice compliment to Onward in that both address self-awareness and relationship dynamics.
Text: Who’s Doing the Work: How to Say Less so Readers Can Do More , Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris.
Tribe: Elementary School teaching colleagues
A few colleagues and I saw Jan Burkins present at the New York State Reading Association Conference (NYSRA) this fall and we were instantly hooked! Everything she said about teaching reading made so much sense. She discussed the issues of assigning students levels in a compelling and powerful way. She inspired us to reflect on our practice and brought awareness to moments when we overly scaffold students’ reading work. While I shared what I learned at grade level meetings, I wanted to let my colleagues learn from Jan and her partner Kim Yaris directly. My school building is under construction this summer therefore we have no physical space to meet, so I decided to set up a virtual book club using Google Community. I am looking forward to thinking through this text and supporting teachers to implement the teaching moves in the fall.
Tribe: Middle school Teaching Colleagues
Kate Roberts is one of my heroes. I discovered her when my literacy coaching Co-Op did a book study with DIY Literacy which she wrote with her wife, Maggie Beatie Roberts. Shelley and I had the good fortune to hear Kate speak on writing about reading at the Literacy For All conference in Rhode Island last October. I took what I learned about using thought prompts and shared them with my colleagues at school. Out of all the teachers, the middle school teachers ran with them the most. Just the other day one sent a note and a sample of a striving reader’s work on theme in which he used the thought prompts Kate shared in her presentation. For more on these prompts check out my blog post on March 22, 2018. The middle school teachers share my enthusiasm for Kate so when I sent them a link to the Heinemann podcast featuring her new book, A Novel Approach, they eagerly signed up for a virtual book club. My middle school colleagues teach whole class novels and facilitate book clubs as well. We are looking forward to learning and discussing ways to merge the two formats and consider other ideas that Kate brings to the table!
The common denominator of all these books is my plan to read them with a tribe. In some cases, I brought the books to my colleagues and in other cases, they brought them to me. This summer I am confident that together we will reflect, learn, plan, laugh, and come back to work in September energized and inspired!
We would love to know which books are in your summer reading stack and whether you plan to read them with a tribe. Please share with us!