2020 was a HARD year! It brought a host of new struggles of educators around the world. Learning new things has always been a part of teaching and leading. What we learned in 2020 was that there are many new aspects of learning to address. We have done research on the leaders in these areas and put together a book list to help you get a grasp on the new trends in education. Introducing our list of the 6 best books for teachers 2021.
1. The Distance Learning Playbook, Grades K-12: Teaching for Engagement and Impact in Any Setting by Fisher and Frey
Effective teaching is effective teaching, no matter where it occurs. The pandemic teaching of mid-2020 was not really distance learning, but rather crisis teaching. But starting now, teachers have the opportunity to prepare for distance learning with purpose and intent―using what works best to accelerate students’ learning all the while maintaining an indelible focus on equity.
Harnessing the insights and experience of renowned educators Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, and John Hattie, The Distance Learning Playbook applies the wisdom and evidence of VISIBLE LEARNING® research to understand what works best with distance learning. Spanning topics from teacher-student relationships, teacher credibility and clarity, instructional design, assessments, and grading, this comprehensive playbook details the research- and evidence-based strategies teachers can mobilize to deliver high-impact learning in an online, virtual, and distributed environment.
This powerful guide includes:
- Learning Intentions and Success Criteria for each module to track your own learning and model evidence-based teacher practices for meaningful learning
- A diversity of instructional approaches, including direct instruction, peer learning, and independent work that foster student self-regulation and move learning to deep and transfer levels
- Discussion of equity challenges associated with distance learning, along with examples of how teachers can work to ensure that equity gains that have been realized are not lost.
- Special guidance for teachers of young children who are learning from a distance
- Videos of the authors and teachers discussing a wide variety of distance learning topics
- Space to write and reflect on current practices and plan future instruction
The Distance Learning Playbook is the essential hands-on guide to preparing and delivering distance learning experiences that are truly effective and impactful.
2. Teaching in the Online Classroom: Surviving and Thriving in the New Normal by Doug Lemov
A timely guide to online teaching strategies from bestselling author Doug Lemov and the Teach Like a Champion team
School closures in response to the covid-19 coronavirus pandemic resulted in an immediate and universal pivot to online teaching. More than 3.7 million teachers in the U.S. were suddenly asked to teach in an entirely new setting with little preparation and no advance notice. This has caused an unprecedented threat to children’s education, giving rise to an urgent need for resources and guidance.
The New Normal is a just-in-time response to educators’ call for help. Teaching expert Doug Lemov and his colleagues spent weeks studying videos of online teaching and they now provide educators in the midst of this transition with a clear guide to engaging and educating their students online.
Although the transition to online education is happening more abruptly than anyone anticipated, technology-supported teaching may be here to stay. This guide explores the challenges involved in online teaching and guides educators and administrators to identify and understand best practices. It is a valuable tool to help you and your students succeed in synchronous and asynchronous settings this school year and beyond.
- Learn strategies for engaging students more fully online
- Find new techniques to assess student progress from afar
- Discover tools for building online classroom culture, combating online distractions, and more
- Watch videos of teachers building rigor and relationships during online instruction
The New Normal features real-world examples you can apply and adapt right away in your own online classroom to allow you to survive and thrive online.
3. Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts by Brené Brown
Leadership is not about titles, status, and wielding power. A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for recognizing the potential in people and ideas and has the courage to develop that potential. When we dare to lead, we don’t pretend to have the right answers; we stay curious and ask the right questions. We don’t see power as finite and hoard it; we know that power becomes infinite when we share it with others. We don’t avoid difficult conversations and situations; we lean into vulnerability when it’s necessary to do good work.
But daring leadership in a culture defined by scarcity, fear, and uncertainty requires skill-building around traits that are deeply and uniquely human. The irony is that we’re choosing not to invest in developing the hearts and minds of leaders at the exact same time as we’re scrambling to figure out what we have to offer that machines and AI can’t do better and faster. What can we do better? Empathy, connection, and courage, to start.
Four-time #1 New York Times bestselling author Brené Brown has spent the past two decades studying the emotions and experiences that give meaning to our lives, and the past seven years working with transformative leaders and teams spanning the globe. She found that leaders in organizations ranging from small entrepreneurial startups and family-owned businesses to nonprofits, civic organizations, and Fortune 50 companies all ask the same question:
How do you cultivate braver, more daring leaders, and how do you embed the value of courage in your culture?
In this new book, Brown uses research, stories, and examples to answer these questions in the no-BS style that millions of readers have come to expect and love.
Brown writes, “One of the most important findings of my career is that daring leadership is a collection of four skill sets that are 100 percent teachable, observable, and measurable. It’s learning and unlearning that requires brave work, tough conversations, and showing up with your whole heart. Easy? No. Because choosing courage over comfort is not always our default. Worth it? Always. We want to be brave with our lives and our work. It’s why we’re here.”
Whether you’ve read Daring Greatly and Rising Strong or you’re new to Brené Brown’s work, this book is for anyone who wants to step up and into brave leadership.
4. Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski PhD and Amelia Nagoski DMA
This groundbreaking book explains why women experience burnout differently than men—and provides a simple, science-based plan to help women minimize stress, manage emotions, and live a more joyful life.
Burnout. Many women in America have experienced it. What’s expected of women and what it’s really like to be a woman in today’s world are two very different things—and women exhaust themselves trying to close the gap between them. How can you “love your body” when every magazine cover has ten diet tips for becoming “your best self”? How do you “lean in” at work when you’re already operating at 110 percent and aren’t recognized for it? How can you live happily and healthily in a sexist world that is constantly telling you you’re too fat, too needy, too noisy, and too selfish?
Sisters Emily Nagoski, PhD, and Amelia Nagoski, DMA, are here to help end the cycle of feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Instead of asking us to ignore the very real obstacles and societal pressures that stand between women and well-being, they explain with compassion and optimism what we’re up against—and show us how to fight back. In these pages, you’ll learn:
- what you can do to complete the biological stress cycle—and return your body to a state of relaxation
- how to manage the “monitor” in your brain that regulates the emotion of frustration
- how the Bikini Industrial Complex makes it difficult for women to love their bodies—and how to defend yourself against it
- why rest, human connection, and befriending your inner critic are keys to recovering and preventing burnout
With the help of eye-opening science, prescriptive advice, and helpful worksheets and exercises, all women will find something transformative in these pages—and will be empowered to create positive change. Emily and Amelia aren’t here to preach the broad platitudes of expensive self-care or insist that we strive for the impossible goal of “having it all.” Instead, they tell us that we are enough, just as we are—and that wellness, true wellness, is within our reach.
5. Teaching Effectively with Zoom: A practical guide to engage your students and help them learn by Dan Levy
In early 2020, because of COVID-19, many colleges and schools around the world closed, and many teachers, instructors, and faculty members had to learn how to teach online in a hurry. This book takes a step back and focuses on helping educators teach effective live online sessions with Zoom.
Dan Levy offers practical pedagogical advice for educators on questions such as:
- Why and how to use breakout rooms?
- Should you use chat, and if so, how?
- How do you build community in a virtual classroom?
The book is based on the author’s experience teaching online, observations of several colleagues teaching online at Harvard University, research-based principles of effective teaching and learning, and, perhaps just as importantly, interviews with dozens of students who recently experienced online learning for the first time and also had to adapt to this way of learning in a hurry.
6. Building Online Learning Communities: Effective Strategies for the Virtual Classroom by Rena M. Palloff and Keith Pratt
Building Online Learning Communities further explores the development of virtual classroom environments that foster a sense of community and empower students to take charge of their learning to successfully achieve learning outcomes.
This is the second edition of the groundbreaking book by Rena Palloff and Keith Pratt and has been completely updated and expanded to include the most current information on effective online course development and delivery. A practical, hands-on guide, this resource is filled with illustrative case studies, vignettes, and examples from a wide variety of successful online courses. The authors offer proven strategies for handling challenges that include:
- Engaging students in the formation of an online learning community.
- Establishing a sense of presence online.
- Maximizing participation.
- Developing effective courses that include collaboration and reflection.
- Assessing student performance.
Written for faculty in any distance learning environment, this revised edition is based on the author’s many years of work in faculty development for online teaching as well as their extensive personal experience as faculty in online distance education. Rena M. Palloff and Keith Pratt share insights designed to guide readers through the steps of online course design and delivery.
Each book on the list of 6 best books for teachers in 2021 addresses a specific need educators are facing. Let us know what you learn from these great books and how you implement these strategies in your school on our Facebook page.
Want to know about more great books? Check out 10 best books for teachers in 2020.
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