Summer reading list? Epic fail. Fall learning? 3 ways it can still happen
It really is a noble goal.
I start each June with the idea of working my way through 4-6 books before September that can help me grow professionally and personally. It’s a habit that started way back during my middle school teaching days and it makes a lot of sense – focus intentionally on finding ways to improve my content knowledge and teaching chops.
Of course, it never really happens. I set aside a pile of books – both print and digital – with the best of intentions. But . . . something always sidetracks me from my original list. One year, I got sucked away into a Civil War blackhole. Some years, it’s just that I was too ambitious with my list. Other times, my list turned out to be less than interesting than I thought they would be and I moved onto other titles.
This year? Pretty much the same result – I went four for seven. The theme this summer, of course, was politics and presidential elections. I did actually get through:
- David Greenburg’s Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency
- Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
- A classic by Theodore White, The Making of the President 1960
- The powerful Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- 1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History
- Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences
- When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain: History’s Unknown Chapters
This year’s distractions?
Mostly Mary Roach and Steve Wyckoff. Roach’s books are just too easy to fall into – I’m not sure Packing for Mars, Grunt, and Stiff help with the professional growth model so much but they were all very interesting.
Steve works in our office. His favorite phrase is:
What’s become clear to you this week?
Which is a good thing. But it can become a real burden. Because . . . you know, I have to actually think about stuff. Steve suggested a few things this summer that sidetracked me some. I ended up browsing through Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never From Their Mistakes – But Some Do and highlighting / tabbing / deep diving into Talk Like Ted: The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds.
Both very helpful – teachers really need to be reading the Talk Like Ted book. Perfect book study option. It’s broken up into simple chunks that lead into great professional discussions that support better instruction.
And that’s really the goal, right?
Whether we get our information in print form, through a digital version, from blogs, via Twitter or some other social media tool, our goal should always be intentional and continuous growth. And the busy fall teaching season is probably not the best time for me to suggest that you should be reading more.
But you really do need to purposefully set some time aside every week to learn more about your craft. And it doesn’t have to be a book. (Though Hidden Figures looks amazing.)
Here are three relatively quick and painless things you can do this fall to get smarter:
- Participate in the weekly Twitter chat at #sschat. It’s every Monday night at 7:00 pm EST. Busy like many of us and can’t do the live thing? Browse the archives that get posted every week afterwards. (There are also chats for government, psych, geo, and world history folks.)
- Subscribe to the Teaching with the Library of Congress blog. Top right corner equals the Subscribe button. Click two times and each blog post will show up in your email inbox. Easy peasy.
- Browse through the excellent EDSITEment Closer Readings+ site. It’s a great place for finding ways to integrate social studies with the rest of the humanities – art, literature, and ELA.