Summer Reading 2020

I distinctly remember this fear I used to have in grad school: that given my average pace of reading I could only read about 600 more books in my life. So I had to choose carefully and really make them count. I now realize it’s a silly fear, but it explains a lot about how my brain operates and who I am as a person. ANYWAY, I’ve increased my reading pace since then, and quarantine has given me even more time to read! I’m definitely more of a non-fiction reader, but I dabble. Here I’ve outlined some of the more teacher-related books I’ve read this summer.

The 12 Week Year outlines tools and tips for setting 12 week goals, instead of traditional yearly goals. While in teaching we don’t think about “1st quarter earnings” or whatever like other jobs might, but the idea of creating shorter time horizons is very useful.

The one reservation I have with the book is that they have their own system for how to track your goals each week. As teachers, we’re forced to be organized and think about goals (for students or for ourselves) on essentially a weekly basis. So I found I didn’t need/like their system. I already have a system that works for me.

Atomic Habits is in a similar genre to The 12 Week Year. I’d been eyeing this one for a while, and coincidentally one of my friends sent it to me as a birthday gift! She said she’s already re-read it. This book was very well written. I underlined a TON of phrases in the first few and last few chapters. There were great nuggets of info. The middle of the book provided me with less “ah-ha” moments, but was enjoyable nonetheless.

The part that I liked so much was Clear’s emphasis on making 1% improvements. I think this idea is INCREDIBLY applicable to teaching.

I’d like to re-read this book through the lens of sharing these ideas with my students.

Crucial Conversations provides its readers with concrete tips with how to promote dialogue in tough situations. I think I’ve actually read this one before. I tried so hard to really buy into it but it just didn’t apply much to my life. Let me explain: the same authors wrote a similar book, Crucial Confrontations (now renamed Crucial Accountability), and THAT is the one I HIGHLY recommend to all teachers!

Crucial Conversations deals with many adult-adult interactions, and let’s be honest, those usually aren’t the issue at school!

Crucial Accountability on the other hand feels more relevant to teacher-student interactions. I read the original version during my first year teaching, but maybe I’ll pick up this new second edition and read it again this summer!

Cara is my GIRL! I love her podcast, Style Your Mind, and am obsessed with her books. This is definitely the least teaching-related book on the list, but I had to include it.

Girl on Fire explores how to really OWN your life. It’s positive, and thoughtful, and empowering. While many of Cara’s ideas are more geared towards women entrepreneurs, teachers are essentially the entrepreneurs of the classroom soooooo it works!

Five Easy Lessons is for my fellow physics teachers out there. I believe the name is a play on Richard Feynman’s Six Easy Pieces. This book was a bit harder to track down on Amazon because it was published in the 90’s, but a college friend of mine recommended it, and the ideas in it are really powerful.

The book stresses how physics should be taught in the order of concrete/phenomenological to abstract. Most classes are taught the other way around. This book is technically written for the college physics instructor, but its ideas would definitely apply to high school physics and even high school math! I’m excited to try to implement some of its ideas this year.

The final teaching-related book I finished this summer was The Price of Privilege. I found this one in a used book store in Santa Cruz and started reading it a while ago. I had to stop reading it partway through because it was really bringing down my mood. Levine is a clinical psychologist and shares some very real stories.

The ideas and stories in this book will definitely shine a new light on affluent communities. And honestly, it made me scared to ever have kids!

Ultimately, I’m glad I finished reading this book this summer, but I only recommend it when you’re in a good head-space.

If you’ve read some good teacher books this summer, let me know! I’m always looking for new reads!

Back to reading,


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