While I was at Queen’s University I worked at the Education Library where I got to sample hundreds of children’s books, resource books, guide books, and books about teaching. It wasn’t until summer of last year that I really fell in love with nonfiction. In the past, I had always been a fan of fiction (fantasy, historical fiction, action/adventure, sci-fi…etc.) because reading that I could travel to different worlds, meet new people, and have adventures of my own all in the comfort of my cozy little reading nook. I read a quote somewhere that went something like this, “if you don’t like reading, then you haven’t found the right book,” and I think there is much truth to that. After finishing The End of Molasses Classes, I was hooked.
At first, my journey into the nonfiction world had began as pure information gathering. I wanted strategies and ideas on how I can improve my own teaching practice. Soon, this knowledge would be amalgamated into my own professional knowledge and teaching philosophy. I eventually experienced a hunger and a thirst for reading nonfiction that I was all too happy to satisfy. The more I read, the more questions I had, which led, of course, to more books. A tip: Always befriend the librarian, because she will have the most up-to-date information about the latest books and will be sure to give you a good recommendation.
Some books I read this past year:
- End of Molasses Classes – Ron Clark
- Creativity Inc – Ed Catmull
- How to Talk So Kids Can Learn – Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
- Building A Better Teacher – Elizabeth Green
- The Essential 55 – Ron Clark
- Whatever It Takes – Paul Tough
- Outliers – Malcolm Galdwell
- The Teacher Wars – Dana Goldstein
You will notice that many of these titles are directly related to the teaching profession, and I highly recommend all of them. Two of them (i.e. Creativity Inc, and Outliers), I read out of pure interest, but found indirect ties to my teaching practice nonetheless. Creativity Inc, for instance, is about Ed Catmull’s journey to building an animation empire (Pixar Animation) held up by pillars of creativity, joyous storytelling, and “emotional authenticity.” His building an empire, and teachers leading a classroom are more or less analogous, if not the same thing. In teaching, I think it is also beneficial to draw from sources of inspiration outside the realm of education because it broadens your thinking and opens your mind up to more possibilities. Otherwise, you run the risk of stagnating and taking up the “my way or highway” mentality, which I actively try to avoid.
Officially an Ontario Certified Teacher (OCT), I now have access to the Margaret Wilson Library, which is a library dedicated to all the certified teachers of Ontario. So naturally, the first thing I did after I finally received my membership was order a book! More on this later.