It’s complicated to get the teachers’ notebooks out before September. Teacher burnout has never been higher than in recent pandemic-blurred years, and all educators who haven’t fully left are clinging to the ledge with broken fingernails. Eight to ten week summer vacation seems like the perfect time to catch your breath, but is it really enough? During the school year, doctor’s appointments, family vacations, and personal growth are constantly put on hold for the summer. Many teachers accept summer positions to supplement their income. And after all these obligations, educators are expected to use unpaid summer hours to develop lesson plans and grow professionally. Educators are underpaid, burnt out and see school supplies at Target before July 4th. You see why I feel nervous suggesting books for teachers. I want my colleagues to breathe.
As overwhelming as this profession is, teaching young people means we have a huge responsibility. Public schools are created to serve a very specific group of straight, white, middle-class, and neurotypical students and families. No wonder the job seems so impossible. The system works for so little. Where I live, teachers must have a master’s degree to maintain their teaching license, and despite all those classes, very few educators feel prepared to truly meet the needs of their amazing, diverse, creative, and interesting students. Fortunately, we have books. There is a wealth of knowledge currently available from brilliant educators who see the gaps in our teachers’ preparation and know what our students deserve.
Start Here, Start Now: A Guide to Anti-Bias and Anti-Racism Work in Your School Community by Liz Kleinrock
I first met Liz Kleinrock through her very popular Instagram account, @TeachAndTransform. As the title suggests, her book is a great starting point for teachers who want to incorporate antibias work into their careers, but aren’t sure where to start. Using actionable conversation starters, anchor charts, and real-life examples, Start here, start now is a great first step in a necessary journey.
We Got This.: Equity, Access, and the Quest to Be What Our Students Need Us to Be by Cornelius Minor
In the book, described as a “manual for doing brilliant, messy work,” Minor draws on his experiences as a college professor in Brooklyn and the Bronx, as well as his own past as a student. The goal is equitable access, and a big part of that is creating a school experience relevant to students’ real lives. This illustrated and engaging book is an amazing first step in that direction.
Textured Teaching: A Framework for Culturally Sustainable Practices by Lorena Escoto German
With a focus on the secondary class, Textured teaching is a framework for integrating critical social justice skills into rigorous literacy work. Instead of providing lessons, Escoto German enables educators to create a classroom climate that centers the student, benefits the community, and can be replicated in any school setting.
Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Sensitive Literacy by Gholdy Muhammad
Cultivate genius is a framework that uses four principles – identity development, skill development, intellectual development, and criticality – to ensure that all students, but especially students of color, have the opportunity to think critically about the historical oppression and the ability to thrive in their time.
We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Education and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom by Bettina L. Love
It is undisputed that the education system caters to a privileged subset of actual students, and much energy is devoted to teaching survival tactics to underserved groups. Love proposes a comprehensive change to radical change, challenging the status quo, relying on civic engagement and demanding intersectional justice. This powerful book is not a beginner’s educational reform text.
Rebellious Read Alouds: Inviting conversations about diversity with children’s books by Vera Ahiyya
Under her pseudonym @TheTutuTeacher, Ahiyya is another author I first discovered on Instagram. Her deep love of children’s literature and listening to what’s new in children’s publishing leads her to create these impressive lesson books that combine picture books with conversations about diversity.
Accelerated Reading Aloud: What to Notice When Turning the Page by Maria P. Walther
Here’s more reading aloud magic to fill classrooms with the joy of literacy! This book provides rich language to complement conversations on all aspects of reading aloud, from admiring detail in illustrations to recognizing general themes. Examples of specific books are great, but the general routine of sharing a book can apply to any literature!
Teach, Breathe, Learn: Mindfulness in and out of the classroom by Meena Srinivasan
Mindfulness is a buzzword in today’s academic climate, right there with “social-emotional learning” and “rigor”. These terms are catch-all, but what do they look like in the classroom? At least for mindfulness, Teach, breathe, learn answers this question. Srinivasan first attacks the teacher‘s psyche, which I adore. Response and reaction drills and creating healthy breaks in the school day provide a great foundation. Then, action plans are provided for rolling out a mindfulness practice that includes students. This book teaches skills that will benefit teachers in and out of the classroom.
I hope you have found some teacher books to pique your interest. If you are an educator, take a deep breath and promise me that you will follow your rhythm. Choose a single text and let it sink in. Complete the challenge with a single action and check in with yourself often. The thriving spot between numbness and burnout is small and tenuous. If you’re looking for more teacher books, check out this long list of teacher books.