There are many teachers out there who have written wonderful books and great blog content. For me, these teachers rise above the rest as they gave perfectly timed pieces of advice that changed the way I thought about how I was teaching. I consider this group to be my own personal professional development crew. Each has given me reasons to continue to evolve as a teacher and to do so happily. Without further ado….here is my list:
Jeff’ is a teacher in Texas and a huge proponent of helping kids learn how to write. I have two of his books, 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know, and Everyday Editing. When the teaching of writing seemed so huge to me, his words were able to break down skills into 10 manageable chunks I could handle. His work helped fuel my action research with writing engagement. And his ideas continue to be things I go back and back to when I conference with kids about their writing.
Donalyn Miller also teaches in Texas, and she focuses on Reading. Her two books the Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild have been my go-to resources when I point out how we should be helping kids with reading. I think to some people, her ideas seem outlandish because they are simple. Kids need to read to get better at reading. We need to give kids time to read in class, we need to read with them, alongside them, we need to give them voice and choice in reading. We are the best readers in our classrooms and we need to share how we do it.
Angela Watson is a teacher turned instructional coach/blogger, and her book Unshakeable- 20 Ways to Love Teaching Every Day No Matter What is one of my all-time favorite teacher books. I desperately needed some ways to whittle down how much time everything took at school. Angela really gets the day to day issues that hold teachers back and burn them out. She helped me reframe my thinking about what teaching is and isn’t and she gave me concrete ways to improve my productivity. Because of her simple to follow strategies, I was able to develop organizational structures that put boundaries around my time and made me prioritize. I was able to feel in control of so many things after making some relatively simple changes.
Jennifer Gonzalez has a website called the Cult of Pedagogy. She used to teach, but now she writes books, like Hacking Engagement, does book clubs, creates materials and does podcasts with guests. Jenn is the person who gives me ideas about how I want to teach and the topics I want to know more about. She does these deep dives into all lines of subject matter: theory and practice, strategies, and thoughts and attitudes about teaching. Her content is well researched, super engaging for me, and applicable to teachers at all levels. She believes in the importance of finding your own tribe, those like-minded individuals who are growing and who support you in your growth. Her podcasts and blog articles always give me a lot to think about.
Antero Garcia and Cindy O’Donnell-Allen
This duo wrote Pose Wobble Flow, another important book for me as a teacher. Essentially Pose Wobble Flow shows we need to know who we are as teachers and move toward flow as we work. The authors also really focused on showing teachers how to create learning that works for kids. We are the change agents, the hackers of systems. My biggest take away was that I can simultaneously be a rebel while I work within the system to do right by kids. I also used to believe that doing nothing was a status quo thing. Now I get that doing nothing or leaving something like it is, is also a choice. I never thought of it that way before.
Like Jeff Anderson, Kelly Gallagher clarified another piece of the writing process, the different reasons we write. He’s written a few books and my personal favorite is Write Like This. To Gallagher, it’s not just narrative vs informational vs argument. He breaks it down further. We write to express and reflect, to explain and inform, to analyze and interpret, to evaluate and judge, to inquire and explore, and to take a stand or propose a solution. For each of these purposes, he shared a multitude of activities that were super interesting for kids to think about. Like other authors here, he is a huge proponent of writing in front of kids. Not just showing them your nice polished piece with no errors. Showing them how you process the writing demands. Talking out loud, pointing out your thinking as you work. Revising. All of it.
Pernille is a local teacher, someone who actually taught in my district for awhile at the elementary level. She wrote Passionate Learners and Passionate Readers, which both ended up on my favorites list. She shares how she honestly came by her different views on teaching now. She used to be a teacher who was like the sun and all the kids revolved around her. Now she sees her role as more of a coach with kids in the lead. And she’s not afraid to fail. She has the same mindset as Donalyn Miller when it comes to reading. Kids need to spend time reading. Every single day. Graphic novels, audio books, picture books, are all valuable reading material in her mind.
Dan is one of my more recent gurus and has written two books that are on my favorites list, the Zen Teacher and Sanctuaries. He has an administrator license, but he simply enjoys teaching. He worries about burnout for teachers, which is why he started blogging. In his book Zen Teacher, he outlines his thoughts on using various ideas such as beginner’s mind, non-judgment, compassion, gratitude, detachment, acceptance, or intention in the classroom. His books are a reminder about taking care of our minds and bodies and hearts with grace and care so that we can show grace and care to others in our world. His message is a good one.
Well, that’s my current list at this point. Which teacher authors/bloggers inspire you?