3. Awakening the Heart, by Georgia Heard
This is the book that changed me from a teacher who feared poetry to a teacher who cannot imagine a teaching (or a reading or a writing) life without poetry. Georgia Heard makes poetry so accessible, so connected to who we are as human beings. Her strategies support the most reluctant writer (and teacher) in taking creative risks and in beginning to "resee" the world through a poet's eyes.
I have relied on this book as a classroom teacher, and I have used it as a tool as an instructional coach. Years later, it is my go-to resource for supporting teachers (and students) who may be hesitant about their own efficacy around poetry. Georgia Heard makes poetry safe, and she connects it to the writing work we do throughout the year (not just in April).
The Comprehension Toolkits, by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis
You may be familiar with Stephanie and Anne's book, Strategies that Work, a comprehensive work on the how-tos of teaching reading comprehension. The Comprehension Toolkits (K-2 and 3-6), take the same content and break it apart into practical units, including non-fiction texts for instruction. Each lesson contains examples of teacher talk, student talk, and student work. I think of the toolkits as teaching resources; they are practical, yes, but through their use, the teacher learns so much. They are not intended to be "scripts," but examples of the level of thinking and talk that supports deep comprehension.
Stephanie Harvey is just so clear when she writes about comprehension. Her strategies make the thinking we do as readers visible--to kids and to us as we assess where kids are with their comprehension. The how and the why are completely transparent and transferable. She teaches us how to teach reading comprehension (not just practice doing it).
1. About the Authors, by Katie Wood Ray
Katie Wood Ray taught me to adjust my stance--from teacher/student to writer/writer. As we began to notice and inquire together, my students developed their own writer identities. They became empowered, engaged, and motivated. They had purpose and audience for their writing. They could talk about their intentions as writers and refer to the mentor texts that inspired their thinking. Their growth mindset around writing inspired my own.
I have been an unapologetic groupie every since.
What does this say about me?
I could go on and on with professional books that have helped to shape the teacher I am today. But my purpose today was to reflect, and perhaps to challenge you to reflect as well.
As I look over my list, I see a trend. All three of my transformational books share the idea that in order to teach, we must model--with our own writing lives, with the way we make our own thinking as a reader or writer visible. A walking the walk situation. All of these authors project that same authenticity that I aspire to live with my students and with the teachers I work beside. It's not about having all the answers. It's about having genuine curiosity for figuring it out together. It's about trusting that everyone (everyone) you learn beside has the capacity for greatness. As teachers, we must be vulnerable (and patient) enough to reflect on the process of figuring it out.
What are your transformational professional books? What do they say about your beliefs as an educator?