Let’s say you have a real interest in professional books but not much time to read them. And it’s time you don’t want to waste. Who might you turn to for advice? Reviews of education books (as opposed to publisher’s blurbs) are rather scarce and what can be found in a Google search is often not written through a teacher’s classroom lens.

That’s why, for last several years, members of the Teacher Leaders Network have volunteered to review books submitted by education publishers eager to have their books discussed. Using a variety of styles and approaches — and bringing to the task many different perspectives — our cadre of accomplished teachers has produced more than 75 commentaries on books about policy, practice and the teaching life.

You can peruse the current list (which we update frequently) at this book review index page. By this Fall, we expect to have all of these reviews entered into a searchable resources database we’re developing for teacher leaders who visit the TLN website.

One recent review, by fifth grade teacher Julie Dermody, is a good example of how our reviewers write with other teachers in mind. Commenting on Getting Started with English Language Learners, Julie writes:

“Just let me know what you need,” my school’s ESL teacher said as she walked out my classroom door. My new student had just arrived from Korea the day before and didn’t speak any English. I didn’t speak Korean. I was so unprepared for this experience that I didn’t even know where to begin to ask for help. What I wish someone had put in my hands was Getting Started with English Language Learners by Judie Haynes.

Haynes, an experienced (26 years) mentor teacher understands the needs of English Language Learners (ELLs) as well as the needs of classroom teachers who are not trained to work with ELLs. As our ELL population continues to grow (currently ten percent of the total US school population is composed of ELLs) more and more teachers will find themselves in a similar situation. Good thing for those teachers, Judie Haynes book is now available….

In her review of Collaborative Teacher Leadership from Corwin Press, Jan Yow highlights a chapter she found especially compelling:

While the entire book was informative, the final chapter and conclusion made the most impact. The final chapter, “Courageous Followers and Leaders,” spoke explicitly about the difference between managing change and managing transition—a distinct difference I had never considered. The authors make the point that in managing change, leaders must also manage transition, which includes honoring past experiences, acknowledging losses, and expecting and accepting grieving. Like every chapter, here the authors not only write generically about managing transitions but also include narratives written by teachers about actual events where they managed transition….

Other recent reviews include: Who Controls Teachers’ Work? Power and Accountability in America’s Schools (by Richard M. Ingersoll); Teaching Adolescent Writers (by Kelly Gallagher); Ignite Student Intellect and Imagination in Mathematics (by Sandra L. Schurr and Kathy L. LaMorte); Classroom Assessment and Grading that Work (by Robert Marzano), and SMART in the Middle Grades: Classrooms That Work for Bright Middle Schoolers (by Carol Ann Tomlinson & Kristina Doubet).

Education publishers who find this blog entry are invited to send review copies of books that might be of interest to teacher leaders. Contact TLN moderator John Norton for more information.

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