Ideas and Features For New Teachers and Veterans with Class




Book of the Month Club

Click on the links below to access each Book of the Month:




The Five Dysfunctions 
of a Team

By Patrick M. Lencioni

“As difficult as it is to build a cohesive team, it is not complicated.  In fact, keeping it simple is critical, whether you run the executive staff at a multi-national company, a small department within a larger organization, or even if you are merely a member of a team  that needs improvement."   (The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, p.185)   

Performance Appraisals
Made Easy

By Dr. Lisabeth S. Margulus

This book has what every principal and district needs:  specific plans, appraisals, and written resources for every aspect of administration.

The templates consist of job descriptions for all people involved with children.  These include bus drivers, counselors, custodians, food service workers, media specialists, school nurses, paraprofessionals, secretaries, and elementary and secondary teachers, among others. 

The book is divided into two parts, the first being a short story of a new CEO in a technology company who must tear down and rebuild her executive staff.  The story illustrates the teamwork dysfunction model through the interactions of the various team members.  The second part of the book is a detailed look into the model itself and how teams can overcome the various dysfunctions.

The model used in this book to identify the dysfunctions of a team are represented in the graphic below.  These five issues are not separate entities, but rather build upon each other.  The first dysfunction, Absence of Trust, is at the bottom, is followed up the pyramid by the other four dysfunctions. 

The book also contains templates to help coach each teacher in five general areas, Building Community, Designing Learning, Managing Learning, Communicating, and Growing Professionally.  Further subcategories are broken down so the evaluator (the principal) can be more specific on which coaching template he/she wants to use to help better the teacher.  The author continues on to provide templates for support staff too. 

This book reiterates what we constantly are hearing as educators and support staff.  Staff members must be held accountable to perform their responsibilities within the district.  If the job descriptions are in place, and staff is not reaching their full potential, a plan needs to be implemented.  The plan must be fair, concise, and allow opportunity for positive improvement.  This book is an excellent resource that can be implemented within any school district.  It has all the tools to make sure performance appraisals are done effectively.  It also has a great CD with al the templates on it that you can use, adapt, or change to fit your own school and district. 



Who Moved My Cheese

by Spencer Johnson

“Each of us has our own idea of what CHEESE is, and we pursue it we believe it makes us happy. If we get it, we often become attached to it. And if we lose it, or it's taken away, it can be traumatic ...” 
(Who Moved My Cheese, p.14)

Linking Teaching Evaluation and Student Learning

By Pamela Tucker 
& James H. Stronge

"The purpose of teaching is learning, and the purpose of schooling is to ensure that each new generation of students accumulates the knowledge and skills needed to meet the social, political, and economic demands of adulthood."  (Linking Teaching Evaluation and Student Learning, chapter 2)
Dr. Spencer Johnson is the famous, international, co-best selling author of the New York Times best seller, One Minute Manager. He is often referred to as "the best there is at taking complex subjects and presenting simple solutions that work." His books, including Who Moved My Cheese? show simple truths and ideas that help regular people to enjoy healthier lives, find more success, and deal with change and stress in their lives. 

I've found this book particularly interesting and helpful because as a teacher, I'm seeing change every day, and every hour. Especially in times of budget cuts, teacher layoffs, trimming of programs, and yet new educational requirements by our governments, a teacher's CHEESE is constantly being moved. We have to be flexible, adaptable, and positive in these trying times. Our CHEESE is often moved, changed, altered, and it even runs out. 

Studies have shown that children placed in classrooms with teachers that have a higher teaching ability make a big difference in the children's growth each year.  So we can imply that the quality of a teacher's ability to teach is extremely important to a child's growth in education.  When a child is re-placed with a teacher with higher ability, the child can grow and catch up with learning.   

Four teacher assessment models are discussed in the book.  These are: 1. The Oregon Teacher Work Sample Methodology;  2.  The Thompson, Colorado School District Standards-based Assessment System;  3.  The Alexandria, Virginia School District Goal-setting System;  and 4. The Tennessee Value-added Assessment System.  Many educators believe that learning takes place when teachers and students take responsibility within themselves while working together.  These four teacher evaluation approaches emphasize using pre- and post- measures of student learning to determine improvement or gains.




Teaching Makes A Difference

by Carol Cummings

“Teaching is far more complex than ever before realized.  ....  We have to decide what is the most effective and efficient way to present the material.  We need to determine how many of our students are learning the content WHILE we are teaching.” (Teaching Makes A Difference, p.5)   

Applied Magic

By Michael Kett

"Wouldn’t you love to have a teaching tool to create a fun learning environment for your students regardless of the curriculum or grade level?  How about something that the students beg you to teach them? The secret is: Houdini In  The Classroom!"  

This is the book for helping all teachers to improve their effectiveness in their classrooms.  It helps both the novice teacher and the seasoned veteran by forcing you to think about your own decision making process as a teacher, and to evaluate your effectiveness.  The book focuses on the teaching of instructional skills and the improvement in student learning.  

Carol Cummings' book give practical ideas for your classroom and for your teaching.  She details how to select and teach to your class objectives, monitoring and motivating your students, and developing better lessons that improve your students' learning.  Each chapter reads just like a step-by-step manual for improving your instruction.  Periodically in the chapter are short 'assignments' for the readers to complete, adding their thoughts and experiences to the text.  Cummings adds creative cartoons and quotes to illustrate her points.  And each chapter is summed up with the important points to remember.  

Michael Kett has been a physical therapist, as well as a magician, for more than 25 years. He has also taught at Northwestern University and Benedictine University.  His first book, Applied Magic, is a blending of his physical therapy and magic backgrounds.  The magic effects in the book have a therapeutic twist to address specific goals such as fine and gross motor control, sequencing, range of motion, and balance.  Michael has lectured to many professional organizations regarding the benefits of therapeutic magic.

His second book, Houdini in the Classroom, is also the title of the workshop he teaches at conferences, conventions and individual schools.  In this book, Michael has combined basic magic tricks with techniques to enhance creative thinking, cooperative learning, writing skills, public speaking, and self-confidence.



The First Days of School

by Harry K. Wong &
Rosemary T. Wong

“The First Days of School is written to help all teachers 'jump-start' by beginning school successfully.” (The First Days of School, p.ii) 

“What teachers do is nothing short of a miracle that humbles and inspires us all.  For what you do, know that you are respected, indispensable, and loved.” (The First Days of School, p.xiii)

Full Steam Ahead!

By Ken Blanchard and Jesse Stoner

"Vision creates focus.  Vision identifies direction.  Vision unleashes power.  Vision allows you to move Full Steam Ahead!"  (Preface, ix)

"Vision is knowing who you are, where you're going, and what will guide your journey."  (p.80)

This is it, the big one, the indispensable one, THE BOOK for teachers, regardless of what area you teach, what age or grade level, or what school you teach in.  This book is for the brand new teachers and student teachers, and yet it has all of the important aspects of teaching that veterans know and understand.  Even for 'seasoned' teachers, reviewing the ideas and concepts in Wong's book each year reminds us and reaffirms us why we are in the educational profession and how we make such an important impact on the lives of our students.  

Each chapter includes many pictures, illustrations, graphics, and quotes to give simple directions for becoming an effective teacher.  Step by step instructions help to guide new teachers into setting up their classes, developing effective discipline systems, and professionally developing themselves.  It definitely is the most important book any new teacher can get his or her hands on!

The book, Full Steam Ahead! is a masterfully woven tale of ordinary people finding vision in their personal and professional lives and making positive changes.  Simplified to a tale of a business owner and an employee, the tale displays the progression of a developing vision in the company and the steps and learning along the way.  There are many excellent connections to the education field, from administrators to classroom teachers.

The lessons are remarkably easy to understand and apply. According to visionary leadership expert Warren Bennis, Blanchard and Stoner have given "meaning and life to vision. Even Dilbert will get it!" Readers will learn how to crystallize a vision that resonates with their own hopes and dreams and allows them to go full steam ahead! 


November - Coming Soon!

Lincoln on Leadership
Executive Strategies for Tough Times

 by Donald T. Phillips

“Few people at the time could have known, however, that he possessed all the leadership qualities and abilities necessary to save the Union.  And virtually no one would have been able to predict the unparalleled strength of this leadership” (Lincoln on Leadership, p.9) 

Abraham Lincoln may in fact be our greatest American president, and certainly the president who faced the greatest challenges.  He started as a backwoods country lawyer and became one of our most revered and honored leaders.  He completely refused to allow the country to remain divided, and utilized his leadership and his people skills to preserve the Union, modernize the American military, and revolutionize the government.  "In a way, Abraham Lincoln represented the summation of those leadership qualities that had helped to form a nation."  (Lincoln on Leadership, p.2) 

This book is broken up into four sections, vital to those in leadership roles: People, Character, Endeavor, and Communication.   Each section is broken up into chapters which detail a specific leadership skill or ability.  Such timeless strategies such as Get Out of the Office and Circulate Among the Troops, Persuade Rather Than Coerce, Set Goals and Be Results-Oriented, and Preach a Vision and Continually Reaffirm It, among others, are explained using stories and anecdotes from Lincoln's life and experiences.  



December - Coming Soon!


Getting To
Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

 by Roger Fisher,
 William Ury, and 
Bruce Patton

The book, Getting To Yes, describes a new method of bargaining, called principled negotiation. Developed by the Harvard Negotiation Project, this is an easy to learn, four step process that is useful whether you’re deciding where to go on vacation or agreeing on the selling price of your car.     
In the school environment, you are negotiating constantly. You negotiate with other teachers over the use of facilities such as the gym, music room, art room. You negotiate with your administrator over materials, supplies, and programs. You negotiate with your students over hallway passes. Our lives at work and at home are in a constant state of bargaining with others. Where do we go out to eat? Who gets the remote? What time does your teenager have to be home on Saturday night? 

In many cases, the traditional method of positional bargaining, negotiating over each side’s positions, leads to bitter feelings, exhaustion, and a win/loss situation that never seems to adequately benefit both sides. 









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