We’re halfway through the spring semester, and one year after schools began to close in response to the pandemic. How much has learning changed for your students and colleagues over the past year? How much have YOU changed? Our picks for March’s top new books for educators offer insight and guidance around some of the more sensitive and challenging topics affecting students and educators today. With book topics ranging from cultivating culturally diverse classrooms to implementing social and emotional learning to supporting your English language learners, we’re sure you’ll find something to fit your classroom needs.
Stay inspired and motivated with this ultimate teacher self-care action plan designed to help educators avoid workplace stress and burnout.
Any educator will tell you it’s no surprise that 50% of teachers leave education within their first 5 years. Being a teacher is deeply rewarding and inspiring, but keeping that big picture in mind is hard after long days, difficult students, and limited resources. But burning out doesn’t have to be your only option. Don’t Just Survive, Thrive offers hard-working teachers a sustainable blueprint for becoming unshakeable at school with the power of self-care.
Through mindfulness, connection, and creative art, you can work toward building a trauma-informed, self-aware strategy that fosters resilience and results in more engaged and effective teaching. Just five minutes a day or more of implementing the practical ideas in this book can result in powerful change. These strategies include:
- 10 ways to practice mindfulness during recess duty
- Guided journaling to celebrate what’s working in your classroom
- Daily routines to keep you in the present moment
- Quick practices for self-regulation during a conflict situation
- Sentence stems to encourage internal dialogue and positive self-talk
Whether you’re a special education teacher, paraprofessional, speech pathologist, counselor, or any type of educator, this book offers a guide to becoming not only social-emotional role models for students but a better, healthier teacher.
A Search for Common Ground: Conversations About the Toughest Questions in K–12 Education
Frederick M. Hess, Pedro A. Noguera
At a time of bitter national polarization, there is a critical need for leaders who can help us better communicate with one another. In A Search for Common Ground, Rick Hess and Pedro Noguera, who have often fallen on opposing sides of the ideological aisle over the past couple of decades, candidly talk through their differences on some of the toughest issues in K–12 education today—from school choice to testing to diversity to privatization. They offer a sharp, honest debate that digs deep into their disagreements, enabling them to find a surprising amount of common ground along the way. Written as a series of back-and-forth exchanges, this engaging book illustrates a model of responsible, civil debate between those with substantial, principled differences. It is also a powerful meditation on where 21st-century school improvement can and should go next.
- Modeling dialogue: Rick and Pedro provide a model for how to sort through complicated issues and find common ground in today’s atmosphere of distrust.
- Deliberate, sustained exchange: Rick and Pedro demonstrate how deliberate, sustained reflection allows them to respectfully flesh out differences and sharpen their own thoughts.
- Left and Right Politics: Rick (generally Right) and Pedro (generally Left) offer a window into where they do and don’t agree on education and point the way to principled cooperation.
- Readable and conversational: Rather than pushing a partisan agenda, Rick and Pedro have crafted a stimulating read for education newcomers and experts alike.
- Unique approach: While other books about the different sides of the education debates simply present paired essays, Rick and Pedro actually engage with each other to strive for a deeper understanding of their differences.
In this inspiring book, entrepreneur, educator, and creativity expert Emily Greene shows us how the disruption of school during the pandemic is our watershed moment to reinvent a better way to learn.
The coronavirus pandemic brought our lives to a halt, daily routines were upended, and schools changed overnight. While pandemic-era learning is exposing the glaring deficiencies in our school systems, Greene lays out an uplifting, achievable way for parents, caregivers, and educators to help children rediscover the joy of learning.
She shares new research, combined with personal stories, tips, and activities, to help lighten the load that parents and children feel as we navigate this unprecedented disruption of school. She guides us through the Seven Wonders of Learning―Unlearning, Free Time, Curiosity, Making, Creativity, Individuality, and Joy―offering practical strategies to help bring back balance and optimism as we reimagine school.
We walk away uplifted, with a new perspective on how to use this unexpected disruption of our children’s schooling to nurture their hearts, souls, and natural curiosities. We carry forward a can-do sense of urgency to help our children come away from this difficult period with new insight, strength, and a reclaimed joy of learning.
In this timely and thoughtful call to action, author and educator Starr Sackstein examines the critical intersection between assessment and social and emotional learning (SEL), particularly as it affects students of color and other marginalized groups. The book addresses the five SEL competencies identified by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)—self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making—and explains how teaching students to develop their abilities in these areas can help them improve their learning and assessment experiences.
Sackstein also raises important considerations for educators, urging them to:
- Examine their implicit biases to improve their relationships with students
- Deepen their understanding of the impact of grades and assessments on students’ self-image and their ability to reach their full potential as learners
- Develop personalized assessment systems that ensure an accurate, fair, and equitable portrayal of what students know and can do
In addition to presenting the relevant research, Sackstein draws from personal experience and the reflections of students, teachers, and administrators to present a compelling case for approaching assessment through the SEL lens. Educators at all levels who have witnessed the devasting effects that testing can have on students’ beliefs in themselves as learners will find Assessing with Respect to be an invaluable guide to ensuring better outcomes—and better emotional health—for all students.
Beyond Crises: Overcoming Linguistic and Cultural Inequities in Communities, Schools, and Classrooms
Debbie Zacarian, Margarita Espino Calderón, Margo Gottlieb
What are some lessons learned from the pandemic?
We learned that, in times of crises, the humanitarian needs of students, families, and ourselves must be a top priority. We learned that forming effective partnerships with families and communities is essential to the health and well-being of our children. We were offered a blunt reminder that a system designed to serve the interests of a privileged few was destined to fail our historically underserved students, especially our millions of multilingual learners.
Above all, we learned that the “normal” many of us have yearned for was never good enough—that we must envision a “better world,” where we build on our multilingual students’ unique assets and cultivate their inner brilliance. Only then will we deliver on their promise.
It’s this “better world,” a world in which communities, schools, and classrooms work together as a “whole-child ecosystem,” Beyond Crises: Overcoming Linguistic and Cultural Inequities in Communities, Schools, and Classrooms sets out to create. Taking a look from the outside in, Debbie Zacarian, Margarita Calderón, and Margo Gottlieb address three critical arenas:
- Imagining Communities describes how to design and enact strengths-based family and community partnerships, including the critical importance of identifying, valuing, and acknowledging each member’s assets and competencies, and the ways recent crises have amplified their struggles.
- Imagining Schools takes an up-close look at policies, structures, and now irrelevant ways of schooling that call for change and how we might reconfigure professional development to ensure every teacher and administrator is dedicated to the well-being and success of our multilingual learners.
- Imagining Classrooms demonstrates how to optimize learning opportunities—both virtual and face-to-face—so our diverse students grow cognitively, linguistically, and social-emotionally, and accentuate their talents in knowing and using multiple languages in linguistically and culturally sustainable environments.
“Student and family, classroom, school, and local community are not silos unto themselves,” Debbie, Margarita, and Margo insist. “They are part of a larger whole that is interrelated and interconnected and, even, interdependent on each other. By forming stronger alliances, we can realize the power of truly working, socializing, and flourishing together.” Beyond Crises is the first critical step forward.
Restorative Literacies: Creating A Community of Care in Schools
Deborah L. Wolter
Through eight compelling stories of restorative literacies, Wolter explores the complex relationships among cognition, metacognition, identity, behavior in schools, and literacies. Based on the principles of restorative justice, restorative literacies are designed to help educators repair harm, restore relationships, and expand the concept of literacy for some of our most disenfranchised and disengaged students. Restorative literacies are not just about growing readers and writers per se. They are about creating a community of care that involves students, teachers, administrators, and families so that all students experience racially, culturally, linguistically, and economically responsive instruction in multiple forms of literacies. Drawing on the author’s rich experiences cultivating a love of reading among her students and studying the practices of other educators, Restorative Literacies advances a provocative set of examples about centering the voice and stories of people in our quest to humanize and reimagine how we care for, about, and with others.
- Presents a literacy model of restorative justice that includes participation from teachers, principals, administrators, and parents.
- Contains engaging narratives from elementary and secondary schools to illustrate concepts and strategies.
- Explores compassionate listening as a conscious process of assuring that all involved are fully heard, a skill that requires removing assumptions, judgment, and bias.
- Identifies practices that take a positive view of learners, as opposed to referring students to special education.
- Uses restoration as an alternative to pushout practices that are designed to control students and often prevent them from reaching their capacity.
Generation Mixed Goes to School: Radically Listening to Multiracial Kids
Ralina L. Joseph, Allison Briscoe-Smith
Generation Mixed Goes to School radically listens to and weaves together stories of mixed-race children and youth, teachers, and caregivers with perspectives and research from social and developmental psychology, Critical Mixed-Race Studies, and education. This book investigates how implicit bias affects multiracial kids in unforeseen ways, impacting those who are read as children of color as well as those who are not; how the silencing and invisibility of their experiences often create a barrier for mixed-race kids to engage in nuanced conversations about race and identity in the classroom; and how teachers are finding powerful ways to make meaningful connections with their mixed-race students. In addition, this book breaks out of the Black–White binary to include the perspectives of mixed-race children from Asian American, Latinx, and Native American backgrounds. It also diverges from scholarship on mixed-race youth by providing viewpoints from children who come from two or more communities of color, and not simply those who are from White people of color backgrounds.
- Examination of the most contemporary issues that impact mixed-race children and youth, including the racialized violence with which our country is now reckoning.
- Guided exercises with relevant, action-oriented information for educators, parents, and caregivers in every chapter.
- Engaging storytelling that brings the school worlds of mixed-race children and youth to life.
- Interdisciplinary scholarship from social and developmental psychology, Critical Mixed Race Studies, and education.
Did you miss last month’s recommendations? It’s not too late to check out February’s top books for educators.