Spring break is coming up for many educators, and although that can mean the end of the year is approaching, there is still a great deal of time for us to invest in our own professional learning. We expect our students to keep learning, so why not continue in that effort ourselves?
A good deal of my own professional learning comes through what I’m reading. During the year, a lot of that comes through blogs. The wealth of blogs out there combined with the difficulty finding consistent, predictable time to dedicate to reading mean I spend less time than I would like investing in longer works.
For me, spring break provides just the sort of change of pace to dig into something new!
Take time for yourself over the break, but if nothing else, take time to plan out how you can push yourself to continue to grow throughout the rest of the spring semester. It won’t happen by accident. Unless we put a plan in place, schedules get busy, the urgent infringes on the important, and our best intentions end up as the things that never happened.
So, here are eight titles that helped spark my thinking. Even if none of these sound interesting to you, take time to find something that will push you to continue your learning over the next few weeks.
6 Titles to Push Your Thinking
Even though I’m at a high school, I’m really enjoying Amplify by Katie Mutharis and Kristin Ziemke. Their slim volume is a great overview of not only how technology can touch so many aspects of our schools, but also when and why it should integrate with sound pedagogical practice. The authors are risk takers, and we have a great deal to learn from their experiences. I love the “Three Things to Try Tomorrow” sections that end many chapters. EdTech isn’t a new idea, but their reflections on the topic are well worth your time.
I’m thoroughly intrigued by the no grades movement. Starr Sackstein’s Hacking Assessment is a great primer on why to consider no grades and how to take the first steps. Her book includes several helpful tips for common push back that accompanies this conversation. If I were in the classroom, I would be using her advice to find my way through this conversation. Instead, I’m working on ways to challenge interested teachers to consider what she has to offer (and the huge upside for students to be able to continue their learning past each test).
Rising Strong is one of those books that reads really quickly but leaves you with so much to think about that you can’t digest it rapidly. Brené Brown’s latest book investigates what happens after we take the risks that are oh so popular for us to discuss. The reality is that we end up with what she describes as a moment where we are face down in the arena, and we have to be able to pick ourselves up and move forward, learning along the way. It’s an idea I think we all want to embrace, but the process of getting there (and I am by no means there) is less direct than we would like.
Originals is a book that challenged my thinking. Adam Grant explores a number of qualities we typically associate with being an original and does a little mythbusting along the way. Grant is a great storyteller, and he’s got a wealth of tales worth telling here. It’s worth noting that this is book is one that I listened to as an audiobook, and it presents well in that medium.
I came across Breaking Night after hearing Liz Murray speak in my school district earlier this semester. To say the least, there’s a lot of story for her to tell; she manages the task brilliantly, and that makes her book both enjoyable and tough to take. Oversimplified, hers is the “Homeless to Harvard” story that’s the stuff of movies (literally–there’s a Lifetime movie that tells her story). But more than one of accomplishment, Murray’s is a story of the value of education and mentors and hope. Tough, but well worth the time it takes to invest.
The Sketchnote Handbook is a great introduction to sketchnoting. Admittedly, I’m the guy who just needs to jump into something like sketchnoting; that being said, Mike Rohde’s book was just what I needed to develop a foundation of skills for myself. Can I sketchnote anything live? No. It looks like my 4 year old drew it. But given the time, I can put the ideas into practice and create something I’m proud of that I wouldn’t have dreamed of in the past. To me, that makes it worth it. Maybe you’ll think so, too.
Interested in more books to push your learning? Check out the first “Let’s Keep Learning” post here.
So, no excuses. Let’s be learners alongside our students, even when it’s less convenient.