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Reading to Be a Better Human

Summertime- the time to do whatever you need to do to rest and be ready to be an even better teacher (and human) when school starts again. 

This is my last post for TBR- not quite the way I imagined it. Way back when I started I picked out all of the books right at the outset because living in Cambodia I do not have ready access to new books, so I needed to “lock-in” my choices way back then. So, I knew what my June book would be…

But then, our world changed and TBR adapted. Tammy suggested that our June post could look different, so mine is.

I am a teacher who believes strongly in the power of read aloud. For years I have committed to reading daily and loved coming upon #classroombookaday (thanks Jillian Heise), so I visually represented our reading for the last few years. Once online school started I continued Morning Meeting and our read aloud bookended our days on Zoom. A few weeks in our principal said that we had to be more consistent within the team, so I had to eliminate one of my daily Zooms, so read aloud became recorded-not the same, but better than nothing. At the same time, my own reading life came to its own virtual standstill- I just could not focus on reading anything other than what I had to for school-hard! 

Once school ended on June 5 I had to kick myself into gear. Summer to me always means #bookaday (thanks, Donalyn Miller), so I started reading again and boom, my reading energy is back! I have several prongs to my summer goal- read for adding to my classroom library, read professionally, read to catch up with life, read to be a better human. George Floyd’s murder was a wake-up call that I had to make a change in myself and work toward being more antiracist and my learning would start with books. Teaching in an international school can be a bit like living in a bubble, but I know that racism is pervasive everywhere and I read some pretty powerful calls to action written by students from other international schools and wondered what Black students might experience at our school.

After three weeks of break, I am reading a ton and my final recommendations to you are my top two of what I have read so far. 

I listened to Stamped in awe- Jason Reynolds calls is a “not history” book, and as someone who feels fairly knowledgeable about history in a general sense I learned so much. His book was then chosen for a professional book club I joined and we are using it to figure out our own actions. I highly recommend the audio version. 

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Dictionary for  Better World was a book I had heard about shortly after it was published and read online. As luck would have it, it was chosen as one of the Book Love books (it is not too late to join in the conversation here-so valuable!). This spurred me to reread the book more slowly and see it as a way to synthesize lots of my summer learning/goals and as a framework for the school year ahead. The book is so thought-provoking and makes me want to be a better person. I know that next year’s class will get so much as we turn to it again and again. 

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Just yesterday (as I write) Pernille Ripp announced that this year is the final year for the Global Read Aloud, so if you are looking for a way to have your class connect over literature take advantage of this last hurrah. We will be reading Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet if anybody wants to join us let me knowI haven’t read this book yet, but trust Pernille’s recommendation.

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Keep reading! Keep thinking! We do hard stuff!

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