And Now For Something Completely Different

This is going to be quick, as I have a monster deadline for a newspaper today, and another for my agent by the end of next week. 

I could not let the summer wind down without recommending some of my favorite professional development books of the year. From what I can see on Twitter, most teachers are reading some fine choices, and there will be lots of people teaching like pirates, becoming the math teacher they wish they'd had, teaching with mathematical mindsets, and thinking with an innovator's mindset, and that's great. I heartily recommend all of these books (I linked to all of them and you should totally buy them. Dave Burgess, Tracy ZagerJo Boaler, and George Couros are fantastic authors, teachers, and people). 

I went in a different direction this summer, and spent time reading professional development books that challenged me in different ways. I wanted to stretch myself, to get a little pissed off, feel defensive and have to work through it, and come out the other side a better teacher. To that end, here are my favorite professional development books of the year, with summaries and links below:

First, and in no particular order, Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools by Monique W. Morris. A fantastic, important read, and a great place to start your professional development. The Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality recently released the report "Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls' Childhood," and these are BOTH worth your time. Read them together to understand what's happening to black girls in our culture generally, and in our classrooms specifically. 

My drug rehab students are a disobedient lot, so I'm always looking for ways to view that behavior as ANYTHING but a challenge to me and my teaching. Ira Chaleff's Intelligent Disobedience: Doing Right When What You're Told to Do Is Wrong helped. A lot. I really enjoyed it, and it's a quick read. Plus, I'm frustrated with what's going on in politics, and it helped me feel better about my own thoughts on that front, too. 

Kristen Green's Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County: A Family, A Virginia Town, a Civil Rights Battle is one of my favorite books of the past five years AND a brilliant look at education and race relations in America. Love, love, love this book. Not just for PD. 

Eric Jensen's Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind (and Teaching with Poverty in Mind) are both great resources for teachers looking to expand their toolkit to include poor kids. Tons of background on what poverty does to kids on a cognitive, physical, and emotional level, and how that affects their learning, and what we, as their teachers, can do to help them learn. Great stuff. 

And Still We Rise: The Trials and Triumphs of Twelve Gifted Inner-City Students by Miles Corwin made me think, kept me captivated for 400 pages, and I cried. More than once. A fantastic book about smart kids in really difficult circumstances.

Yes, I know. These summaries are getting shorter, but PEOPLE, I AM ON A DEADLINE. 

Finally, Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life, by Annette Lareau is simply a classic. It should be on the professional development bookshelf in every school. It's not new, but it's essential reading. It's not easy, it's dense, but it's a great read, so put on your reading glasses (isn't it time to admit they are not optional? Just me? Huh.) and get ready to learn something. 

Happy reading! Seriously, I have to get to work.