Encouraging Teachers: Three Easy, Inspiring Reads for the Beginning of the School Year

The New Teacher Book: Finding Purpose, Balance, and Hope During Your First Years in the Classroom
Edited by Linda Christensen, Stan Karp, Bob Peterson, and Moé Yonamine

The latest edition of The New Teacher Book, published by Rethinking Schools, was developed in part by a diverse group of early career teachers who spent three days dissecting the 2010 version with the book’s four editors. As stated in the preface, “more than half of [the] volume is new.”

The first three chapters are likely to be the most useful to educators at independent schools. They include personal essays about transformative classroom experiences, poems emphasizing social justice themes, and instructions about how to implement teaching strategies. They also contain references to additional resources published by Rethinking Schools.

The first chapter offers suggestions for building a cohesive classroom community, while chapter two offers advice to new teachers on how to uphold their personal vision and values. Chapter three helps new teachers navigate the inevitable tensions that arise when pushing for social justice in communities that may not be familiar with current ideas about diversity and inclusion.

Happy Teachers Change the World: A Guide for Cultivating Mindfulness in Education
By Thich Nhat Hanh and Katherine Weare

Published in 2017 by Parallax Press, Happy Teachers Change the World brings together decades of teaching knowledge from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, the practical input of co-author and educator Katharine Weare, as well as the testimony of teachers around the world who practice mindfulness in their schools.

Hanh, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967, brings a combination of spiritual wisdom and a deep understanding of real-world challenges to the realm of education.

The text is divided into two parts. Section one provides brief, step-by-step instructions for practicing mindful breathing, sitting, eating, listening, speaking, and more. Part two articulates a broader vision for what mindfulness practice should look like on an individual and community level. 

Happy Teachers Change the World is a valuable reference book for those looking to reduce their stress during the upcoming school year, while building calmer, healthier school communities.

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali
By Sabina Khan

This work of young adult fiction could offer teachers an escape from the intense workload that comes with the start of the school year, while also giving them a new, culturally sensitive book to share with their students. 

Published in early 2019 by Scholastic Press, the novel features a Muslim teenage girl struggling to reconcile her LGBTQ identity with her parents’ strict cultural expectations. When Rukhsana’s mother and father catch her kissing her girlfriend, Ariana, Rukhsana’s college plans fall apart. 

Instead, her parents send her to Bangladesh, where she enters a world of arranged marriages and other longstanding traditions. Despite this challenge, she learns to fight for her identity. 

According to Bustle, first-time author and educational consultant Sabina Khan drafted the book in sixteen days after her own teenage daughter came out as bisexual and she couldn’t find much YA literature that reflected her loved one’s intersectional identity.

Ginger O’Donnell is a senior staff writer for DiversityIS. This article ran in the fall 2019 issue.