December 18, 2017 by

Gift Guide for Educators

Are you looking for a last minute gift for a teacher or an educator you know? Are you still trying to put together your wish list for the holiday season? Add one of these best-selling books to your shopping cart and the holidays are sure to be a hit! To make things easier, we’ve organized these best sellers into three categories—the equitable educator, the forward-thinking educator, and the inspiring educator. 

For the Equitable Educator:

Teaching with Poverty in Mind: What Being Poor Does to Kids’ Brains and What Schools Can Do About It by Eric Jensen

Although every educator knows firsthand about poverty’s effects on students, here at last is a book that makes it crystal clear why and how classroom teaching and school and district policy must address these effects. Veteran educator and brain expert Eric Jensen helps you understand what poverty does to children’s brains and why students raised in poverty are especially subject to stressors that undermine school behavior and performance. Then learn how educators can reverse the effects of poverty by employing the practices of turn-around schools and others with a history of high-performing students raised in poverty. To help educators improve the achievement of their economically disadvantaged students, Jensen draws on research, experience, and real school success stories to explain

  • How to recognize the signs of chronic stress caused by poverty.
  • Why to assess low-performing students for core skills that are affected by poverty, such as attention, focus, and problem solving.
  • How to change school and classroom environments to alleviate the stress caused by chronic poverty.
  • Ways to empower students and increase their perception of control over their environments.
  • Which schoolwide factors lead to success and which are always achievement killers.
  • How enriching learning environments that include the arts and highly engaging instruction can change students’ brains and improve their lives.

Building Equity: Policies and Practices to Empower All Learners by Dominique Smith, Nancy Frey, Ian Pumpian, and Douglas Fisher 

Imagine a school with a diverse student body where every student feels safe and valued, and all students—regardless of race, culture, home language, sexual orientation, gender identity, academic history, and individual challenges—can succeed with challenging classes, projects, and activities. In such a school, teachers notice and meet students’ individual instructional needs and foster a harmonious and supportive environment—and students feel empowered to learn, to grow, and to pursue their dreams. This is the school all our students need and deserve.

In Building Equity, Dominique Smith, Nancy Frey, Ian Pumpian, and Douglas Fisher, colleagues at San Diego’s innovative Health Sciences High & Middle College, introduce the School Equity Taxonomy, a new model to clarify the structural and interpersonal components of an equitable and excellent schooling experience; and the School Equity Audit, a survey-based tool to help school and teacher leaders uncover equity-related issues and organize their efforts to better address the following elements of a successful classroom:

  • Physical integration
  • Social-emotional engagement
  • Opportunity to learn
  • Instructional excellence
  • Engaged and inspired learners

Built on the authors’ own experiences and those of hundreds of educators throughout the United States, this book is filled with examples of policy initiatives and practices that support critical standards of equity and high-quality, inclusive learning experiences.

For the Forward-Thinking Educator:

Better Than Carrots or Sticks: Restorative Practices for Positive Classroom Management by Dominique Smith, Douglas B. Fisher, and Nancy Frey

Schools and teachers everywhere are abandoning harsh, punitive controls on student behavior—such as consequence-based systems and frequent school suspensions—for affirmative classroom management efforts that result in improved student learning. In this book, authors Dominique Smith, Douglas Fisher, and Nancy Frey share their proven approach to implementing restorative practices in schools and classroom. The authors’ framework includes

  • Steps to building trusting and positive relationships with students;
  • How to establish rules, procedures, and expectations that result in a classroom compact between teaches and students;
  • Ways to prevent and manage conflict by keeping, making, and building peace; and
  • Ideas for reflecting a restorative approach in school management and parent and community outreach.

The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners, 2nd Edition by Carol Ann Tomlinson 

Since 1999, the movement to differentiate instruction to the needs, interests, and abilities of individual students has been guided by this monumental work by Carol Ann Tomlinson, the leading authority in the field. This new edition updates the original book’s timeless advice with Tomlinson’s fresh insights drawn from years of supporting differentiation in various grade levels, all subjects, and all types of schools. Readers will

  • Learn how to apply the principles of differentiation in schools driven by testing, standards, and accountability;
  • Explore teaching strategies that make it easier to provide multiple learning paths for today’s ever more diverse students, including English language learners; and
  • Expand your instructional toolbox with differentiated strategies that include innovative technology.

Vivid classroom examples of real teachers ensure you always know what to differentiate, how to differentiate it, and why.

Learning Transformed: 8 Keys to Designing Tomorrow’s Schools, Today by Eric Sheninger and Thomas C. Murray

With all that we know about how students learn, the nature of the world they will face after graduation, and the educational inequities that have existed for centuries, maintaining a traditional, one-size-fits-all approach to teaching and learning is tantamount to instructional malpractice.

Authors Eric Sheninger and Thomas C. Murray outline eight keys—each a piece of a puzzle for transforming the K–12 education system of teaching and learning—to intentionally design tomorrow’s schools so today’s learners are prepared for success and stand ready to create new industries, find new cures, and solve real-world problems.

The traditional model of schooling ultimately prepares students for the industrial model of the past. If we want our students to become successful citizens in a global society, we must dramatically shift to a more personal approach. Failure is not an option. We can no longer wait. Let Learning Transformed show you how you can be a part of the solution. 

For the Inspiring Educator:

Fostering Resilient Learners: Strategies for Creating a Trauma-Sensitive Classroom by Kristin Souers with Pete Hall 

In this galvanizing book for all educators, Kristin Souers and Pete Hall explore an urgent and growing issue—childhood trauma—and its profound effect on learning and teaching. Grounded in research and the authors’ experience working with trauma-affected students and their teachers, Fostering Resilient Learners will help you cultivate a trauma-sensitive learning environment for students across all content areas, grade levels, and educational settings. The authors—a mental health therapist and a veteran principal—provide proven, reliable strategies to help you

  • Understand what trauma is and how it hinders the learning, motivation, and success of all students in the classroom,
  • Build strong relationships and create a safe space to help students learn at high levels,
  • Adopt a strengths-based approach that leads you to recalibrate how you view destructive student behaviors and to perceive what students need to break negative cycles, and
  • Head off frustration and burnout with essential self-care techniques that will help you and your students flourish.

Each chapter also includes questions and exercises to encourage reflection and extension of the ideas in this book. As an educator, you face the impact of trauma in the classroom every day. Let this book guide you in seeking solutions rather than dwelling on problems, while building relationships that allow students to grow, thrive, and—most assuredly—learn at high levels.

Even on Your Worst Day, You Can Be a Student’s Best Hope by Manny Scott

As Manny Scott travels the world speaking to students and educators, he meets young people whose stories sound a lot like his own—a childhood that was marked by poverty, instability, violence, and despair. One of the lucky ones, he encountered a few caring educators who showed him how to find meaning in the classroom and gave him a glimpse of his own possibilities. So many of the kids he meets today need this kind of hope and practical assistance. But with all that is already on educators’ plates, what can an individual teacher do to help traumatized children believe in themselves, succeed in school, and graduate prepared for work and life

In Scott’s book, you’ll find answers. With the same passion that inspires so many who hear him speak, Scott presents an approach informed by his school experience and honed through years of connecting with kids who desperately need someone to show them a path to a more positive future. He shares small ways to prepare yourself for the hard work of making a difference and offers advice for bridging cultural divides, earning students’ trust, and equipping them to take responsibility for their own success.

This book reminds us of the incredible power every teacher has to help young people rewrite their destinies—and it’s a call to action for all who read it.

The Teacher 50: Critical Questions for Inspiring Classroom Excellence by Baruti K. Kafele 

In this thoughtful guide for novice and veteran educators alike, author Baruti K. Kafele takes readers on a reflective journey designed to reignite their passion for teaching.

Kafele’s 50 questions and penetrating insights reveal how you can

  • Inspire students of all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds to strive for academic excellence;
  • Develop strong relationships with students, their parents, and the greater community;
  • Address the challenges and promises presented by millennial learners; and
  • Boost your motivation and excitement about teaching despite entrenched obstacles and daily frustrations.

Discover numerous ideas for strengthening your practice and investing in student success. This book is an indispensable companion for teachers who want to give their absolute best in the classroom at all times and under all circumstances.

Are we missing a book on here that you think essential for this holiday season? Let us know by tweeting us @ASCD. Whichever book you choose, we wish a happy holiday and a wonderful New Year!

MacKenzie Masten is the Social Media Strategist for ASCD and Managing Editor for Inservice. She is the voice behind ASCD's social media presence and her writing can be found on Inservice and ThinkFun Education. You can connect with her @kenziemasten.