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We asked our colleagues around the office for the books they turn to for guidance in their work. They could be books specifically about schools and teaching or broadly about the skills we could all improve upon in that work.

  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Dealing with challenging behavior
  • Time management
  • Goal setting

If you're looking for a little inspiration to carry you into the upcoming school year, here are 12 books we think you should check out…preferably poolside with an ice cold beverage in hand.

1. The Power of Habit

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Summary:

“In The Power of Habit, award-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to the sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential. At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. As Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.”


Recommendations:

I picked up this book because it was the beginning of a new year and I had some bad habits to break. (I also had goal setting on my mind.) As I read, I noticed how the cue-routine-reward habit cycle matches so closely to the antecedent-behavior-consequence behavior cycle. Reading this book gave me such a personal understanding of student motivation . The Power of Habit cites tons of research, but reads like an easy magazine article from start to finish. The stories inside are inspiring and sure to make you reevaluate how and why you do the things you do.

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Teach by Design


2. Made to Stick

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Summary:

"…In Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath reveal the anatomy of ideas that stick and explain ways to make ideas stickier...Made to Stick will transform the way you communicate. It's a fast-paced tour of success stories (and failures): the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who drank a glass of bacteria to prove a point about stomach ulcers; the charities who make use of the Mother Teresa Effect; the elementary-school teacher whose simulation actually prevented racial prejudice. Provocative, eye-opening, and often surprisingly funny, Made to Stick shows us the vital principles of winning ideas—and tells us how we can apply these rules to making our own messages stick."


Recommendations:

Made to Stick gave me great tools for thinking through and implementing ideas so they're more likely to last over the long haul. The authors' SUCCES method is so easy! I've used it when I present an idea to any group…including to the 4-year-old and the 8-year-old in my house. If you're looking for a way to create staff buy-in to a new program in your building, check out Made to Stick.


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Teach by Design


3. Fostering Resilient Learners

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Summary:

“In this galvanizing book for all educators, Kristin Souers and Pete Hall explore an urgent and growing issue—childhood trauma—and its profound effect on learning and teaching. Kristin Souers, a mental health counselor, and Pete Hall, a former principal, present case studies, research, stories, and practical, easy-to-implement strategies to help students living with trauma thrive in the classroom.”


Recommendations:

Yes to Fostering Resilient Learners! Highly recommend! This book strikes the perfect balance of drawing on research and being grounded in reality. It provides readers an understanding of childhood trauma, explores how trauma impacts our classrooms, and offers educators strategies to create and sustain trauma-sensitive learning environments to better enable and support all students. Additionally, the authors focus on the importance of self-care; it’s something that’s important for all of us, but absolutely critical for those folks whose careers are dedicated to helping others. A quick, easy read all educators will want to toss in their beach bag this summer along with a highlighter to mark it up!


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Danielle Triplett, Research Assistant,
Educational and Community Supports


4. For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood…and the Rest of Y’all, Too

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Summary:

“…Emdin provides practical tools to unleash the brilliance and eagerness of youth and educators alike - both of whom have been typecast and stymied by outdated modes of thinking about urban education. With this fresh and engaging new pedagogical vision, Emdin demonstrates the importance of creating a family structure and building communities within the classroom, using culturally relevant strategies like hip-hop music and call-and-response, and connecting the experiences of urban youth to indigenous populations globally…Lively, accessible, and revelatory, For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood...and the Rest of Y'all, Too is the much-needed antidote to traditional top-down pedagogy and promises to radically reframe the landscape of urban education for the better.”


Recommendations:

I would say don't let the name of the book scare you. This is a book for more than just white educators who teach primarily students of color. The book focuses on low income, urban schools and helps readers gain a better understanding of how our traditional methods of teaching fail to reach many of our students, particularly students of color. Dr. Emdin doesn't stop at admiring the problem. This book is filled with many practical and meaningful tools and strategies to assist educators in connecting with their students, honoring their community and culture, and elevating them in their academic success.


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Rhonda Nese, Research Assistant Professor,

Educational and Community Supports


5. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

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Summary:

“In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.”


Recommendations:

Susan Cain points out the importance of understanding the value of introverts and creating a society that values different personality types equally. The information in this book provides educators with a new perspective of viewing internalizing students and encouraging their unique leadership style.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Celeste Rossetto Dickey, Senior Research Assistant

and PBISApps Trainer,


6. She Did It!: 21 Women Who Changed the Way We Think

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Summary:

“Prepare to discover new heroes among these 21 women who challenged the status quo, championed others, and made their voices heard. From Jane Addams to Alice Waters, from groundbreaking artists and social justice advocates to scientific pioneers and business innovators, a strong thread of trailblazing women runs through American history. Written in compelling, accessible prose and vividly illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Emily Arnold McCully, this collection of inspiring and expertly researched profiles charts the bold paths these women forged in the twentieth century.”


Recommendations:

My book group read this book, and I was so amazed by each of the women highlighted. Why didn't I learn about them when I was in school?! Schools can use this book to teach children about some of the very accomplished women who have made incredible contributions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Celeste Rossetto Dickey, Senior Research Assistant

and PBISApps Trainer,


7. Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World

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Summary:

“In UnSelfie, Dr. Borba pinpoints the forces causing the empathy crisis and shares a revolutionary, researched-based, nine-step plan for reversing it. The good news? Empathy is a trait that can be taught and nurtured. Dr. Borba offers a framework for parenting that yields the results we all want: successful, happy kids who also are kind, moral, courageous, and resilient. UnSelfie is a blueprint for parents and educators who want to kids shift their focus from I, me, and mine…to we, us, and ours.”


Recommendations:

Knowing that teens today are 40% less empathetic than they were thirty years ago, this book validates the importance of laying the foundation for early childhood education in the social emotional spheres. It gives fantastic age-by-age strategies for working the empathy muscle in all of us.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Sharon Kelly, Director, Vivian Olum

                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Childhood Development Center


8. Including One, Including All: A Guide to Relationship-Based Early Childhood Inclusion

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Summary:

“Inclusive early childhood settings benefit all children, whether or not they have identified special needs. Including One, Including All provides theoretical, conceptual, and practical information on relationship-based, inclusive practices for early childhood classrooms, an approach that strengthens every child and supports the child’s behavioral, emotional, social, and learning challenges. Written by a team of professionals who are known for their successful work using this model, Including One, Including All includes blueprints for organizing this important work with children and their families, addresses the challenges and rewards of inclusion in early childhood classrooms, and chronicles the experiences of two children with special needs in early childhood settings.”


Recommendations:

This book presents a model I recommend knowing. It truly does include and celebrate all children. The book was created for teachers and provides broad ideas with details easy to implement in the classroom. I was fortunate to have been a part of seeing this model in action for years at The Little School in San Francisco where it was developed. After 40 years, it is still in practice.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Sharon Kelly, Director, Vivian Olum

                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Childhood Development Center


9. Out of My Mind

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Summary:

“From multiple award-winning author Sharon Draper comes a story that will forever change how we all look at anyone with a disability, perfect for fans of RJ Palacio’s Wonder. Eleven-year-old Melody is not like most people. She can’t walk. She can’t talk. She can’t write. All because she has cerebral palsy. But she also has a photographic memory; she can remember every detail of everything she has ever experienced. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school, but NO ONE knows it. Most people—her teachers, her doctors, her classmates—dismiss her as mentally challenged because she can’t tell them otherwise. But Melody refuses to be defined by her disability. And she’s determined to let everyone know it…somehow.”


Recommendations:

This is one of my favorite read-alouds of all time! From a new baby sister, to bullies at school, to an unforgettable ending, this book helps students see past the wheelchair and actually say hello. I’ve read this book aloud to every class I’ve had since it came out in 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Alan Cook, Trainer, PBISApps


10. Rules

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Summary:

“Twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life. Which is near impossible when you have a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. She's spent years trying to teach David the rules from "a peach is not a funny-looking apple" to "keep your pants on in public" in order to head off David's embarrassing behaviors. But, the summer Catherine meets Jason, a surprising, new sort-of friend, and Kristi, the next-door friend she's always wished for, it's her own shocking behavior that turns everything upside down and forces her to ask: What is normal?”


Recommendations:

Rules is another yearly read-aloud book. It’s all about 12-year-old Catherine who is torn between caring for her brother, David, who has severe autism and trying to find her own place in the world. Rules is a book full of laughs and tears. I thought it was easy to connect to the main character with a huge heart who’s just struggling to fit in.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Alan Cook, Trainer, PBISApps


11. Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.

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Summary:

“Four-time #1 New York Times bestselling author Brené Brown has spent the past two decades studying the emotions and experiences that give meaning to our lives, and the past seven years working with transformative leaders and teams spanning the globe. She found that leaders…all ask the same question: How do you cultivate braver, more daring leaders, and how do you embed the value of courage in your culture? …In this new book, Brown uses research, stories, and examples to answer these questions in the no-BS style that millions of readers have come to expect and love. Whether you’ve read Daring Greatly and Rising Strong or you’re new to Brené Brown’s work, this book is for anyone who wants to step up and into brave leadership.”


Recommendations:

This is my favorite book right now. I highlighted at least one thing on every single page. I love that she defines a leader as “anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.” She keeps it real and is so relatable as she authentically shares her own stories of vulnerability and courage and admits to not having all the answers. I already want to go back and review the nuggets of wisdom I’ve underlined and read them over and over again.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Jessica Daily, Training Team Lead, PBISApps


12. If You Don’t Feed the Teachers They Eat the Students

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Summary:

“Packed with words of wisdom and inspiration, this is one book no administrator or teacher should be without. Dr. Neila Connors presents practical tips to improve school climate, communicate with parents and students, teach to the standards, and make a difference in students’ lives. All this in an enjoyable, easy-to-read format, If You Don't Feed the Teachers They Eat the Students will leave you laughing your way to a more successful school year.”


Recommendations:

These books are my go-to when I’m looking for creative ideas for staff/team acknowledgments or recognition activities. They are chock full of ideas – anywhere from formal group recognition activities to individual acknowledgements to holiday celebrations. They are great to have as an administrator or leader to find fun ways to support staff. They also would be great to give to the PTA or parent group for ideas in recognizing and acknowledging school personnel.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Jessica Daily, Training Team Lead, PBISApps