By the Professional Development and Instructional Issues Division

The days are longer, the nights are shorter, and everyone is starting to look toward the summer break. That means it’s time for the annual summer reading list from the staff in the NJEA Professional Development and Instructional Issues Division (PDII). With a focus on inspiration and an aspiration to provide an optimal learning environment for all of our students, here is a rundown of some of the books that caught the attention of our staff over the course of the last year.

PDII Division Director Michael Cohan looked to one of the presenters from NJEA’s spring T.E.A.C.H. Conference for his pick, Reading, Writing, and Rising Up (second edition), by Linda Christensen. The author has been a leader in culturally responsible pedagogy for many years. This update of her earlier work focuses on using students’ authentic cultural experience to foster an interest in reading through a social equity lens.

The newest member of the division, Gabe Tanglao suggests The New Teacher Book: Finding Purpose, Balance, and Hope During Your First Years in the Classroom. This compilation of educator stories, published by Rethinking Schools, is a great read for people at any stage of their teaching journey to refresh their thinking and approach to the classroom. See Page 20 for more on this book.

Camy Kobylinski is looking for inspiration from the Dreamers. She recommends The Making of a Dream: How a Group of Young Undocumented Immigrants Helped Change What It Means to Be American, by Laura Wides-Munoz. Told through the experiences of five activists, the book chronicles the last 20 years of U.S. history related to immigration. These Dreamers struggle with all of the usual challenges of young adulthood while also working to find solutions and supporters for new U.S. immigration policy.

Looking at how schools work, Amanda Adams suggests Schools That Learn: A Fifth Discipline Fieldbook for Educators, Parents, and Everyone Who Cares About Education, by Peter Senge and others. This book offers teachers, administrators, students, parents and community members tools and techniques, and resources to address the considerable challenges facing our schools. Advice from more than 70 writers and experts on schools and education feature new methods for implementing organizational learning in the classroom, school, school district and community.

Chrissi Miles found herself inspired by Educated, by Tara Westover, the memoir of a young woman who had no formal education until the age of 17, but went on to study at Brigham Young University, Cambridge and Harvard. The book provides a deep look inside the mind of someone with a true hunger for learning. Tara Westover shares her story of childhood trauma, self-education and survival through an extreme childhood.

Janet Royal found her inspiration in the story of another young girl, this one from across the ocean in I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced, by Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui. Telling the story of Nujood, the first child bride in Yemen to win a divorce, the book documents the abuse from her husband, how she escaped, and how—with the help of local advocates and the press—she obtained her freedom. This story of tragedy, triumph and courage has inspired young girls in the Middle East to challenge their marriages and change their lives.

Self-reflection and personal growth have been on the mind of Mike Ritzius, as he recommends two books. First, Becoming A Resonant Leader, by McKee and Boyatzis which offers a hands-on guide to developing emotional intelligence, renewing and sustaining ourselves and our relationships, while creating the conditions where we can excel. Somewhat related is Mike’s second recommendation, Leadership and Self-Deception, by the Arbinger Institute, which exposes the ways that we blind ourselves to our true motivations and unwittingly sabotage our own efforts to achieve success and happiness in every aspect of our lives.

Rich Wilson has been considering ways to implement the new mandate to include LGBTQ+ voices in curriculum and suggests Gender Diversity and LGBTQ Inclusion in K-12 schools; A Guide to Supporting Students, Changing Lives, by Sharon Verner Chappell, Karyl Ketchum and Lisa Richardson. This guide considers the environment, curriculum and pedagogy at each level of schooling to lead educators in finding opportunities to infuse positive portrayals of LGBTQ+ people throughout their instruction. While focused on LGBTQ+ inclusion, the principles presented here can be used to transform curriculum and instruction to include all voices and perspective in preparing students for the multicultural society in which we live.

Library, device or bookseller: choose your format and enjoy a good read this summer.

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