Calvin J. Stocker
It’s almost here, the infamous “break.” While you will hopefully be preparing for a small hiatus from the classroom, I also know that some of your time will be spent preparing for your classroom next year. At Teaching Excellence,
we are always looking forward and seeking out the absolute best development opportunities. Our students deserve nothing less. As you take flight, grab a chair at the beach, or explore new places this summer, consider taking one of these excellent reads along with you. I have personally read each of these titles and credit each for having an impact on my outlook on educational reform. Pull up a seat, turn the page, and let’s ‘redefine possible’ together.
1. Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol
This is, arguably, one of the most influential books in education reform. Having helped surge the broader educational movement to close the achievement gap that we see today, Kozol takes the reader through the “forgotten” neighborhoods of America. Savage Inequalities
highlights the inequities between underprivileged children across the U.S. and their more affluent peers. Some have argued that this book is now outdated and doesn’t accurately depict the current educational environment in America. I disagree. Warning: This book may make you upset and angry. To that I say, “Good.”
2. Innovative Voices in Education: Engaging Diverse Communities by Eileen Gale Kugler
A multi-authored discussion of the mindsets and skills that have helped re-shape education in our nation’s most underprivileged communities. Included in this book is a chapter written by Teaching Excellence’s Director of Coaching, Ashley Harris, which places an emphasis on Houston’s Charter School and recent Broad Prize recipient, YES Prep Public Schools. Spotlighting each of the author’s challenges, successes, and what they have learned from their experiences working to create educational equality, we each have something to learn from these truly innovate voices.
3. Work Hard. Be Nice. by Jay Mathews
The story of Houston’s own Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin as they worked to change the tide of education and fulfill the mantra that All Children Can Learn. Inspired by their mentor’s Rafe Esquith and Harriett Ball, Dave and Mike, two Teach for America corps members, sought a new type of classroom for their fifth graders by designing KIPP. From taking away a student’s television, jumping a chain-linked fence, to using breakfast tacos to motivate district personnel, this book depicts many of the challenges faced by the educators to create an environment of educational equality for their students and how they navigated them. Only one thing left to do: “You gotta read, baby, read.”
4. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? By Beverly Daniel Tatum
Racial identity provides us insight into foundational elements that helped produce the achievement gap. This book provides valuable insights on how one can begin the conversations on the racial divides that have long been avoided in our communities, schools, and homes. If your students (or you) have questions about race, be sure to pick up a copy and begin the conversation that will change our world.
5. Disrupting Class by Clayton Christensen
There has been no book that has changed my perspective on instruction and how we approach learning more than this book. Christensen outlines the future of education and how students must and must not learn in the future to stay competitive. Get ready to change your outlook on teaching, technology, and the possibilities that lay ahead for your students.
Do you have other “must reads” on educational equality and reform? Share them below!