8 Books That Changed Everything for Me

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Over the last few years I've read some fabulous books about teaching. Before that I didn't do much professional reading. That sounds bad, I know. But if I was going to read I thought I'd read books I enjoyed like Sue Grafton mysteries or Janet Evanovich books. However, I'd fallen into a slump, affected by the attitudes of some around me and the professional pressures we were all under. I started my blog, met other inspiring teachers, started reading professional books, and everything changed! These are 8 of the books that changed me and what happens in my classroom every day.

I read this book one summer afternoon while driving with my husband as he made his wine deliveries to his client's tasting rooms. We would talk as he drove and as soon as he'd stop I'd get this book out and read. Even with the stops and starts I finished the book in a few hours. It's an easy read and an inspiring one. I thought of all those times I'd tried so hard to get a student to finish work, took away a recess (yes, I feel terrible about that now), etc. This book completely changed that.

How it helped me: Daily 5 forever changed how I managed independent workers when I pulled reading groups. No more am I searching through books for worksheets to copy, trying hard to find easier/harder versions of them for the kids who couldn't do the work or for those who needed more of a challenge. Then when it came time for reading groups, I'd pass out the 3 papers, go over how to do them all, and expect my students to work quietly and independently. Which worked- for the most part. But now my kiddos have engaging activities to do that allow them some choice in how to accomplish them. My problems with unfinished work are all in the past!

How it helped me: This book absolutely changed everything for me! Thank you, Ron Clark! My attitude and everything about my classroom changed. It inspired me to return to the teacher I had been. I like to think my classroom is a bright, energetic place for engaged learners who have a teacher willing to support and encourage them the best ways she can. If you're looking for something inspirational, and dare I say life changing, then read this. And seeing Ron Clark speak in person is an unforgettable experience too!

How it helped me: Reading this gave me a way to have my students do something engaging with math while I pull a math intervention group. I set up my math block so that I do intervention first (I suppose that's PREvention, actually). The students who meet with me "play" with their manipulatives while I get the others off to their stations. Then I do a mini lesson on the math we'll be doing that day. We do the same thing I'll be doing with the whole class but this way I can easily see what their doing and help them with whatever is getting them stuck. If there's a worksheet, then we do a few of those problems together. When we're doing the whole class lesson I look at these kiddos and see them smile and nod because they know they "get it." And this way I'm not helping them after they've had the chance to do plenty of the math the wrong way.

How it is helping me: What technology can do for student motivation, not mention learning, is amazing! A HyperDoc is basically a document with links to websites, Google Docs, videos, etc that allow students to learn in an innovative way, respond to their learning and show their learning in new and different ways. This book is helping me see how I can create HyperDocs for a variety of purposes. It's easy to read and understand and is full of QR codes that give you template to make life even easier. Lisa Highfill, one of the authors, has website with tons of HyperDocs for lots of grade levels. You can find it HERE.

How it helped me: This wonderful read emphasizes the reasons to give students a choice in what they read. It further inspired me to give my students plenty of (structured) choice in their books for Daily 5. I thought about how many times I would have liked more choice in what we read in English class...

How it helped me: This book was full of reminders and good tips that have kept me on track to enjoy teaching. I participated in a book study about this book last summer (Chapter One starts HERE). In fact I've got to get my postcards ordered so that I can mail them out to m students each week- one of Angela's great ideas! Angela Watson has a website HERE and you can follow here on social media to learn more about ways to enjoy teaching and help yourself get more done in less time.

How it helps me: It's reminded me again to let the little things go, to make sure I put my students first, and to work as hard as I can to be positive. It's an easy, enjoyable read too! (That seems to be a trend in my choices, doesn't it?)

How it helped me: I'd often felt that I needed to improve my writing instruction. The background information, ideas, and examples for how to conduct writer's workshop and writing conferences in this book gave me the courage to try Writer's Workshop. Now that I have, writing has improved in my classroom and my students are much more engaged and motivated to write.

What are some of your favorite professional books?


  1. Wow, awesome post, Chrissy! It's always great to hear what other teachers are reading. I can relate to your reading habits: I've read ALL the Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovich books:) and four of the pro books on your list. If I had to pick one book that changed my teaching, it would be Fountas and Pinnel's Guided Reading from about 20 years ago. Loved that book! This summer I hope to read Minds Up (I think I have the right name) and get going with that.
    Thanks again for your suggestions...the Hyper Doc book looks super interesting.
    And thank you, too, for the shoutout!

  2. This is such a great post! I feel inspired just reading it! I love the idea you shared about doing math intervention first. That makes so much sense and I could see how it would be so effective and helpful for students who struggle. I'm definitely going to try that! I think I will order Unshakeable today. I experienced my most difficult year of teaching last year and have been in a slump about going back. I cried often, which is something I'd never done before. It was just one of those years I guess. One I never want to experience again! Thank you!


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