Sunday, March 29, 2015

What are you reading now?

I am always reading something, always.  Right now there are no fewer than 20 books on my nightstand waiting to be read.  There are at least 5 books loaded on my Nook that I haven't gotten to. I know that's a little ridiculous.  What happens is that I hear an interview on NPR or I read a review of a new book or a friend or colleague tells me of a great read, and I just HAVE to get it immediately.  Some women buy shoes and make-up, I have a book problem.

I always make time to read, even when I am crazy busy.  Reading is like breathing to me.  I must do it every day or I don't feel right.  I don't really get it when people say they don't have time to read.  I mean, just don't dust as often, right?  :)   Reading gives me so much comfort and joy.  It has helped me so many times in my life.  Reading is a faithful and loyal companion.

Usually I have two books going at once- one fiction and one non-fiction.  Often the non-fiction is about teaching, refugees, a certain country or part of the world.  For the past few months, I have been slowly and steadily moving through The Courage to Teach  by Parker Palmer.  It is not an easy read but it is a profound read.  It's challenging and I only read a few pages in a sitting and often I have to re-read passages to make sure I understand them, but I love it.

This book was referenced at my state English Learner conference in the fall.  When I got back from the conference I found the book at a bookstore and I read the back cover:

I am a teacher at heart, and there are moments in the classroom when I can hardly hold the joy...But at  other moments, the classroom is so lifeless or painful or confused- and I am so powerless to do anything about it---that my claim to be a teacher seems a transparent sham...If you are a teachers who never has bad days, or who has them but does not care, this book is not for you.  This book is for teachers who have good days and bad, and whose bad days bring the suffering that comes only from something one loves.  It is for teachers who refuse to harden their hearts because they love learners, learning, and the teaching life.  

Was Parker Palmer speaking directly to me?  Well, that's how I felt.  This book is about the inner landscape of a teacher's life.  It is about learning how to teach in what is sometimes a toxic environment but never losing the passion and fire for your students and their learning.  It is not about specific techniques in teaching.  Rather it is about the necessity of being true and honest in the classroom and connecting with the human beings, your students, that you are in front of.  It is really a beautiful book and it is helping me so much.

There are many other books that have influenced my teaching, but I'd like to hear from you.  Will you do me a favor and reply on my blog with your favorite books about teaching?  I would love to hear about the books on teachers and teaching that have meant something to you.

Anyone can reply by hitting the "Comments" button on the bottom of the post and posting under "Anonymous".  You can leave your name if you want, but you don't need to.

Happy reading.  It's spring break and I have 3 books going right now.  :)


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