Staff Recommended Reading List

The staff of State Support Team 4 would like to use this space to share with you our favorite books. Each month you will be introduced to a new staff recommended book. We hope that you find something new to consider and possibly impact your personal professional development. 
Happy Reading!

June Recommended Read

Don't Suspend Me! An Alternative Discipline Toolkit

By: Jessica Djabrayan Hannigan and John E. Hannigan


Book reviewed by: Anthony Pizzuti 

Book Synopsis:

"A student struggling to read is not sent home and expected to return reading fluently, so why is it that a student struggling to behave is sent home and expected to return behaving decently?" Don't Suspend Me! by Hannigan and Hannigan, is an easy to follow toolkit that provides administrators with case study examples and a step-by-step plan to implement alternative discipline options in response to the most common behavior challenges including:

  • Bullying/Cyberbullying
  • Drug/Alcohol Offenses
  • Fighting
  • Fire Related 
  • Inappropriate Language
  • Property Damage
  • Repeated Classroom Disruptions
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Substitute Teacher
  • Technology Offenses
  • Theft
  • Truancy

Why I Recommend This Book: 

The traditional way of suspending students is not working! I like this book because it provides innovative methods for addressing student discipline that are proactive, instructive, and restorative, and fits nicely into the PBIS framework. The toolkit challenges educators to rethink how discipline is both viewed and addressed in the school building while providing alternative means of managing student behavioral infractions. I recommend, Don't Suspend Me!, it is an excellent and timely resource and read for all school administrators.

May Recommended Read

Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise

By: Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool


Book reviewed by: Sonia Stevenson 

Book Synopsis:

 “The right sort of practice carried out over a sufficient period of time leads to improvement. Nothing else.” In Peak, Ericsson and Pool outline what the right type of practice looks like, and asserts that talent does not exist. The book details a basic framework for anyone who wants to improve at anything:

-Have a good teacher


-Get past plateaus

-Maintain motivation

This framework, provides a guide for anyone who wants to improve at a skill based upon a multitude of research. 

Why I Recommend This Book:

This book made me think about views in education. Many educators set expectations for students based upon their talents or perceived talents. Instead of focusing on talent, perhaps we, as a profession, need to rethink how to make our students “masters” of a skill. Thinking about how to motivate and engage students may be a relevant starting point to moving forward.

April Recommended Read

Helping Traumatized Children Learn: Volume 2

Creating and Advocating for Trauma-Sensitive Schools

By: Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative 


Book reviewed by: Carrie McClure 

Book Synopsis:

"This is a timely and very much needed book... addressing trauma school wide, monitoring the implementation of trauma-sensitive schools; and creating public policy to ensure that all students, including the many who have experienced traumatic events succeed." 

Click here to download a free copy of this book.

Why I Recommend This Book: 

We live in turbulent times where families and students are experiences adverse circumstances in their lives: drugs, alcohol, physical and sexual abuse, neglect, loss of a caregiver, incarceration of a parent. When student’s needs are not being met in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, HOW do they have the capacity to learn?  In addition, are often reactive in our approaches to students and punish them for behaviors.

This trauma informed approach supports the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports and Social Emotional Learning curriculum in your schools. It’s emphasis is PROACTIVE, helping teachers to build relationships with students and build an understanding of what happened to students. 

A trauma sensitive school is one in which all students feel safe, welcomed, and supported and where addressing traumas’ impact on learning is at the center of the educational vision. The goal of Creating and Advocating for Trauma-Sensitive Schools is to move beyond awareness of trauma’s impacts on learning to help schools become trauma-sensitive learning environments that can improve educational outcomes for all students.

There are 6 core attributes to a trauma-sensitive school:

In a trauma sensitive schools, adults:

-share an understanding of how trauma impacts learning and why a school-wide approach is needed for creating a trauma-sensitive school.

-support all students to feel safe-physically, socially, emotionally and academically

-address students’ needs in holistic ways, taking into account their relationships, self-regulation, academic competence, and physical and emotional well-being

-explicitly connect students to the school community, providing them with multiple opportunities to practice newly developing skills

-embrace teamwork with a sense of a shared responsibility for every student

-anticipate and adapt to the ever-changing needs of students and the surrounding community.

Resources and videos regarding trauma sensitive schools:

March Recommended Read

The Checklist Manifesto

By: Atul Gawande


Book reviewed by: Lori Pinchot 

Book Synopsis:

The New York Times bestselling author of Better and Complications reveals the surprising power of the ordinary checklist.

We live in a world of great and increasing complexity, where even the most expert professionals struggle to master the tasks they face. Longer training, ever more advanced technologies- neither seems to prevent grievous errors. But in a hopeful turn, acclaimed surgeon and writer Atul Gawande finds a remedy in the humblest and simplest of techniques: the checklist. First introduced decades ago by the U.S. Air Force, checklists have enabled pilots to fly aircraft of mind-boggling sophistication. Now innovative checklists are being adopted in hospitals around the world, helping doctors and nurses respond to everything from flu epidemics to avalanches. Even in the immensely complex world of surgery, a simple ninety-second variant has cut the rate of fatalities by more than a third.

In riveting stories, Gawande takes us from Austria, where an emergency checklist saved a drowing victim who had spent half an hour underwater, to Michigan, where a cleanliness checklist in intensive care units virtually eliminated a type of deadly hospital infection. He explains how checklists actually work to prompt striking and immediate improvements. And he follows the checklist revolution into fields well beyond medicine, from disaster response to investment banking, skyscraper construction, and businesses of all kinds.

An intellectual adventure in which lives are lost and saved and one simple idea makes a tremendous difference, The Checklist Manifesto is essential reading for anyone working to get things right.


Why I Recommend This Book:

I found this book fascinating! The concept of creating checklists for more complex uses can be used for many professions. I think it would be very useful for education. This book is perfect for schools who are trying to build fidelity into their practices. By creating checklists for staff to utilize, districts can lay out evidence based practices and general procedures that would be used by all to great effect.


February Recommended Read

Everyday Courage for School Leaders

By: Cathy Lassiter 


Book reviewed by: Liesl Blackwell

Book Synopsis:

Everyday Courage for School Leaders is centered around the idea of courage as a necessary component of leadership. This book is designed to help leaders understand the role that courage plays in leadership and gives steps for taking specific action to move toward courageous leadership practices. 

At the heart of this book you will find three foundational ideas: 

      1. Leaders must have the courage to lead an agenda based on equity and excellence for all students. 

      2. Courage is a learned trait and can be strengthened with the right mindset and practice.

      3. Strong instructional leadership requires everyday courage.

Beyond identifying courageous practices, readers are given the opportunity to make specific plans and to take action on those plans. The reader is asked to self-assess and reflect on their current professional practices. Reflective prompts ask the reader to drill down into specific areas of action in each of the three categories of courageous leadership (trust, accountability, and risk-taking).


Why I Recommend This Book: 

A leader is constantly bombarded with situations requiring a decision, answer, or response. Leadership decisions being made are rooted in the belief system of the leader and their willingness to stay the course with a decision that may not be popular but is still the right thing to do. How courageous are you? Dive into this book and see!

January Recommended Read

By: Martin E. P. Seligman 
Book reviewed by: Krista Dickens

Book Synopsis:

Learning about well-being, promotes well- being. Flourish by Dr. Martin Seligman is a captivating read that defines well-being through positive psychology and identifies how to apply it personally and professionally.
Educators may be most intrigued by the information regarding Positive Education: Teaching Well-Being to Young People. Though a specific program and curriculum are highlighted, the content covered and the strategies for teaching, embedding and living well-being is enough to lead to game changing conversations and practices in schools. Comments from Dr Seligman such as, "I want a revolution in world education" and "Schools at every level should teach these skills [of well-being or how to have more positive emotion, more meaning, better relationships, and more positive accomplishment]" will resonate with educators for sure!

Why I Recommend This Book:

Flourish may initially grab your attention as an educator, but it will keep you reading by identifying ways to flourish that you may relate to- directly or indirectly (via a loved one) including: the treatment of depression, psychological fitness of military personnel, addressing trauma, promoting physical health, and growing GRIT/ character/achievement. Sprinkled throughout the book, you’ll find free, easy and effective exercises you can use personally to promote your own well-being (e.g.  Kindness Exercise- Find one wholly unexpected kind thing to do tomorrow and just do it; notice what happens to your mood. Identifying your Signature Strengths at Get this book, then get ready to dial up your own well-being, happy reading! 

December Recommended Read

The End of Average

By: Todd Rose 


Book reviewed by:  Steve Ramos

Book Synopsis:

Todd Rose, the author of The End of Average, introduces readers to the potential faults of using "the average" to make determinations about what's best for an individual using a "one size fits all" approach. From fighter pilot cockpits to GPAs and SAT scores to personality tests, Rose exposes the lost potential of the individual by designing and comparing to "the average".

Why I Recommend This Book: 

The End of Average really made a lot of sense to me! We are all unique. We all have strengths and these strengths are often context dependent. As a parent and educator, this book helped me see and understand the great value in maximizing the potential of individuals through their uniqueness!

November Recommended Read

What Great Principals Do Differently

By: Todd Whitaker 


Book reviewed by:  Crystal Bryski

Book Synopsis:

“Inspire yourself and others with the second edition of this best-selling book. With heartfelt advice, practical wisdom, and examples from the field, Todd Whitaker explains the qualities and practices that distinguish great principals. Discover what you can do differently.” 

Why I Recommend This Book: 

This is a great resource for both new and experienced school principals.  In fact, I would highly recommend this book to anyone holding a leadership position!  Todd Whitaker expertly identifies and describes 18 effective strategies to help put any school on the path to success.  Essentially, these strategies help principals create and sustain a culture that supports all students by cultivating an environment that “focuses on people--not programs.” In today’s educational landscape, the role of the school principal can be overwhelming, yet this resource is a positive way to help make the job a little more manageable.     

October Recommended Read

10 Mindframes For Visible Learning
By: John Hattie and Klaus Zierer

Book reviewed by:  Merrie Darrah

Book Synopsis:

The original Visible Learning research concluded that one of the most important influencers of student achievement is how teachers think about learning. In Ten Mindframes for Visible Learning, John Hattie and Klaus Zierer define the ten behaviors or mindframes that teachers need to practice in order to maximize student success. These include:

  • thinking of and evaluating your impact on students' learning;
  • the importance of assessment and feedback for teachers;
  • working collaboratively and the sense of community;
  • the notion that learning needs to be challenging;
  • engaging in dialogue and the correct balance between talking and listening;
  • conveying the success criteria to learners;
  • building positive relationships. 

These powerful “mindframes”, which should underpin every action in schools, are founded on the principle that teachers are evaluators, change agents, learning experts, and are constantly engaged with dialogue and challenge.


Why I Recommend This Book: 

A helpful book for teachers, coaches and instructional leaders. This book has an interesting approach to help improve the teaching techniques and understand the current issues in education. Mindframes includes questionnaires, scenarios, checklists, and exercises, to help utilize and embed Hattie's mindframes into education systems and structures.


September Recommended Read

Roots and Wings: Affirming Culture and Preventing Bias in Early Childhood
By: Stacey York

Book reviewed by:  Teresa Brown

Book Synopsis:

Early childhood classrooms are becoming increasingly diverse. Providing culturally relevant care and education should be part of the foundation of high-quality child care and early education. "Roots and Wings" provides an overview of multicultural and anti-bias issues in the classroom and challenges the reader to reflect on and clarify their own cultural identity and attitudes towards other races, cultures, and language groups.

Why I Recommend This Book:

This book is full of activities, examples, and strategies designed to prevent bias in early childhood education. 



August Recommended Read

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing
by: Daniel H. Pink 

Book Reviewed By: Pam Kennedy

Book Synopsis:

In When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Daniel Pink exposes hidden daily patterns and then shares when it's best to schedule events and make decisions. This isn't a "how to" book. It's a "when to" guide. Pink uses modern science to illustrate how thoughtful scheduling can improve your life performance at work, in school or even in leisure time. The big "Ah Ha": Based on a daily oscillation of peak, trough and rebound, positive emotions grow stronger as the morning progresses, significantly decline in the afternoon only to rise again in the evening. And knowing your genetically predetermined chronotype helps. Relying on fields of research, Pink provides guidelines to determine if you are a Lark, Owl or Third Bird. If the suggestions for using this nugget of knowledge don't keep you glued to the pages, Pink's insights on how to get the most from each stage of a project in "Part 2: Beginnings, Endings and in Between" and "Part 3: The Secrets of Group Timing" sure should.

Why I Recommend This Book: 

Because of these five "takeaways":

  • Success may be based more on WHEN than on WHY. We've all been following Simon Sinek and starting with WHY. We might want to start looking at WHEN. I'm open to trying any hack, particularly research based hacks, to assist in improving job performance and career satisfaction.
  • Work requiring deep executive function (and if your job doesn't, is it really work?) along with major decisions should be tackled early in the day.
  • Most people are happiest in the morning, grumpier in the afternoon and then happy again in the evening. I'll be scheduling professional development sessions and meetings early in the day or after work. Consider making those tough phone calls mid morning, just not during my meetings.
  • Naps and daily walks are not luxuries but necessities. You might want to schedule that 2-4 PM short snooze into a sanctioned break or late lunch.
  • Data doesn't lie. I'll rely on Pink's research-based evidence on timing as I schedule my daily meetings, make special work requests and maybe even take a little nap.