Not For Your Beach Bag: 5 Summer Reading Books for Professional Development



During the summer, a lot of us teachers really want to enjoy the beach, our children, do some gardening and other activities that are absolutely fun and necessary. However, I find it equally important to continue my professional journey during my free-time. I like to use my summer to have a lot of fun, but also to grow myself professionally. And I don’t find this notion of continuing to work during the summer ridiculous for teachers, after all, we are pretty much kicked out of the school, but we’re still getting paid.

This summer, I may have gone a bit overboard, as I just finished the South Mississippi Writing Project Invitational Summer Institute, and I’m signed up for several other professional development workshops. Regardless, I’ve compiled a list of professional reading for myself, and I’m sharing them with you in case you’re looking for a small way to stay connected to your classroom over the long and lonely months of summer.

1. Inside Out: Strategies for Teaching Writing

I actually just finished reading Inside Out for the second time in my professional career. It was the textbook in my composition for teachers class at the University of Southern Mississippi when I was still working toward my degree. I re-read it recently as one of the books for study at the South Mississippi Writing Project’s Invitational Summer Institute, both times I truly enjoyed the book.

What I love the most about Inside Out is that it is not a list of lessons to implement in your classroom. It is a guide to creating effective strategies in your classroom. Don’t get me wrong, the authors produce tons of ideas that you can borrow and implement in your classroom, but there is a lot of room left for your strategic thought about what your classroom needs. I would recommend this book for anyone in any subject or grade band, but it is a staple for a Language Arts teacher.

I’ll be posting an in-depth review of this book soon, so if you are interested in learning more about it, stay tuned.

2. Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator

I started reading this book last week for a book study that is being offered in my district. So far, I’m enjoying the content, and the book is a super easy read. I particularly recommend this book for summer reading because the book is all about increasing student engagement and grasping their attention from the start.

Again, this book isn’t about handing out pre-made materials to implement in your classroom. Rather, it is a motivational book written by a successful educator, and it will definitely make you think critically about your classroom strategies.

I will also be posting a full in-depth review of this book later this summer, stay tuned!

3. The First Days of School: How to be an Effective Teacher

It is really hard to be an educator without having heard about Harry Wong‘s best selling book The First Days of School. Especially if you are a new teacher, or a teacher looking to improve classroom management strategies, or just a teacher who hasn’t read the book; then The First Days of School is a must read.

Harry Wong is incredibly inspiring and effective in laying out specific musts for gaining control of your classroom from day one. His insights are accurate and effective and best of all, they are based off of actual experience. All of us should reflect on our experience as a teacher, even veterans. Harry Wong’s book is a powerful tool to push that reflection in the right direction.

4. Understanding by Design Guide to Creating High Quality Units

If you are interested in developing your strategies for lesson plans, unit plans, and overall student learning then this book is definitely one to consider. Most undergraduate programs teach backward design, but reading it from these authors offers a whole new, in-depth, and focused understanding of the concept. It is also a great book to read during the summer because you can implement the ideas before you’ve begun to develop your units for the next school year.

5. The Essential 55: An Award-Winning Educator’s Rules for Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child

If you’ve never heard of Ron Clark, then I invite you to do a little youtube search and listen to him talk for just a moment. He is an incredibly inspiring educator who has absolutely earned his right in the field. If you haven’t ever heard of Ron Clark, then you might just be thinking that 55 rules is ridiculously excessive, but give him a shot.

I had the pleasure of hearing Ron Clark speak last August just before school started, and his words truly changed the attitude of our school for the better. Later in the school year, many of our teacher traveled to visit Ron Clark’s academy, and their testimonies show that his rules truly work to make his students more successful. My colleagues described students who actively engage in intellectual conversations, looking you straight in the eye, and remembering your name later in the day. It might seem excessive, but his rules are certainly worth giving a read.