Teacher Summer Reading as Professional Development
By Megan Orciari / November 27, 2018
Summer break provides teachers and students with the opportunity to recharge, relax, and reset. But for Gateway teachers, like so many teachers across the country, summer is a time to participate in professional development, reflect on the previous year, and prepare for the new one.
Gateway teachers are exceptional and are constantly exploring new ways to support our students and create safe spaces for learning and growing, even over the summer. In addition to participating in professional development trainings and workshops during the summer months, our teachers read books that helped deepen their teaching practice.
Four of our teachers shared their favorite books from their summer readings:
• Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D.
Gateway Middle School teacher, Elizabeth Colen, is on the leadership team of the Middle School Consortium (MSC), a group of 30 Bay Area educators who meet several times a year to share best practices, collaborate, and engage with the Scope and Sequence from Facing History. As a group, the MSC will meet several times this year to read and discuss Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria. The author argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides. The following questions will be the basis of discussion among the educators within the MSC each time they meet: What stands out to you as significant in Dr. Tatum’s work? Why is this information important? How does it relate to your work with students? What might you want to do within your school, practice, or work with young people based on this information?
• Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students by Zaretta Hammond.
Many Gateway students experience stress and trauma outside of the classroom so Gateway Middle School teacher, Therese Arsenault, was eager to learn more about the neuroscience of learning, how stress and trauma impacts the ability to learn, and how to be a culturally responsive teacher by reading Culturally Responsive Teaching, a book that the entire Gateway faculty is reading and engaging in. The book gives a framework for how to reach students who are experiencing trauma and highlights the importance of building learning partnerships with students, families, and the community. The author provides suggestions on how to build a trusting relationship with students, how to help students go from dependent to independent learners, and how to create a safe learning environment.
• Rac(e)ing to Class: Confronting Poverty and Race in Schools and Classrooms by H. Richard Milner IV and Tyrone C. Howard.
As part of her membership in Gateway’s White Anti Racist Teacher (WART) group, Gateway High School teacher, Mary Plant-Thomas, read Rac(e)ing to Class: Confronting Poverty and Race in Schools and Classrooms. WART is a group of Gateway teachers working to combat white privilege and support students of color. Members of WART were required to read Rac(e)ing to Class, which reinforced how poverty and race influence the education experience of students. While the book is more focused on the education system as a whole, and is less applicable to the classroom, it focuses on equity which aligns with what Mary has been focusing on as part of her Stanford Hollyhock Fellowship.
• Total Participation Techniques: Making Every Student an Active Learner by Pérsida Himmele and William Himmele.
Gateway High School teacher, Molly Orner, read Total Participation Techniques, a book that challenges how educators approach student engagement. The book presents a model which encourages high cognition and participation while providing easy-to-use alternatives to the stand and deliver approach to teaching that causes so many students to tune out--or even drop out. According to Orner, the book provided her with a strong reminder to be deliberate about embedding engagement strategies in every lesson so every student has the opportunity to participate and feel engaged. We are excited to share these books with teachers who are seeking fresh ideas on what exceptional teaching, learning, and leading may look like.