Though most newly minted educators received their degrees a few weeks ago, we are now in prime job-snagging time. Post-interview and excited hiring, panic may set in: I’m going to be a teacher. In two months.
So even though you just spent tens of thousands of dollars on schooling, you’ll scuttle over to the nearest bookstore. There will be rows of books in the Education section, but the end cap will feature books like The First Days of School and Tools for Teaching, maybe even the trusty teacher-saves-the-world standby The Freedom Writers Diary. Now, these books are fine. But let’s go back to the fact that you just spent thousands of dollars to get a degree in teaching. There is no magic formula in these books that isn’t common sense or you haven’t already learned in school. The major problem with the books is that most are focused on fixing the teacher instead of understanding the student.
I don’t pretend to be an expert by any means, just a reader of lists tired of seeing the same five or six books (that have gathered dust in nearly every classroom) repeated on each one. If I could travel back in time to summer before my teaching career began, I’d pack these to take along with me.
- Savage Inequalities (all Jonathan Kozol, really) and Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria are great starting points for books focused on social justice and equality in education.
- Lies My Teacher Told Me is history focused, but perfect for reminding teachers that the curriculum as written is not the end all, be all of education and we are doing a disservice to our kids if we don’t look at it with a critical eye.
- Bluefish is meant to be a placeholder, representative of great, age-appropriate fiction that your students might otherwise miss. Seek it out and fill your classroom with it, even if you’re going to teach math.
- Tiny Beautiful Things is the book I’ll pick focused on improving the teacher and you will want to keep it close by. It might be the only thing you have time to read during the school year and it will probably be exactly what you need to hear.
Any other teachers want to add to the list?