Staff Recommended Reading/Podcast List

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

March Recommended Podcast

Restorative Justice in Schools: An Overview

By: Victor Small


(Click image to go to Podcast) 

Book reviewed by: Carrie McClure 

Podcast Synopsis:

Looking to expand your school or district focus on SEL and Restorative Practices?   One approach to addressing problematic behavior—restorative practices— focuses on building relationships and repairing harm, rather than simply punishing students for misbehavior.  A restorative mindset is a way of looking at wrongdoing and punishment through a different lens.

Why I Recommend This Podcast:

This is a time where we are spending more time focusing on proactively teaching behavior we expect in schools including Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports and Social Emotional Learning in Schools. Restorative Practices focuses on proactively building relationships in the classroom, improving your school culture and integrating different ways to discipline and repair harm in your school community. 

Additional Resources:

Teachers Building Connections toolkit

Restorative Schools Toolkit

Chicago Public Schools RP Guide and Toolkit


February Recommended Read

The Teacher Clarity Playbook

By: Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, Olivia Amador, and Joseph Assof 


Book reviewed by: Liesl Blackwell

Book Synopsis:

The February book of the month is The Teacher Clarity Playbook: A Hands-On Guide to Creating Learning Intentions & Success Criteria for Organized, Effective Instruction.

This Playbook is designed to walk educators through the process of establishing clarity for themselves as well as for their students. The central questions driving the work are:

What is it that we expect our students to learn? How will we know if they have learned it? How will we respond when some students do not learn? How will we respond when some students already know it?


The playbook is broken into nine modules: 

  1. Identifying concepts and skills
  2. Sequencing learning progressions
  3. Elaborating learning intentions
  4. Crafting success criteria 
  5. Modifying learning intentions to include language expectations
  6. Determining the relevance of the learning
  7. Designing assessment opportunities 
  8. Creating meaningful learning experiences 
  9. Establishing mastery of standards

The modules are designed to move educators through a process that begins and ends with the standards, from analysis through assessment. The ultimate goal is to aid teachers in building a habit of mind for how it is that we systematically and efficiently analyze standards, build curriculum, teach, and assess, and to do it regularly in our instruction. 

Why I Recommend This Book: 

This playbook is a wonderful resource for Teacher Based Teams! The structure and guided practice that it provides to collaborative teams will work to improve the ways in which TBTs think about and plan for their work. Each module gives an explanation of the concept of the module to establish purpose for learning and provide direct explanation. The module then models how the process is applied through examples from both elementary and secondary as well as Math and English Language Arts. Next, there is a guided practice for individuals/teams to deepen their understanding by doing. Write directly in the playbook! Finally, the module ends with independent practice where the learning can be applied to your specific grade level and content area.

There are additional video clips available to support each module that can be accessed through the Corwin website. The opportunity to view the module content in action is valuable for teams looking to engage in this process. This work is not easy! It is difficult, challenging and takes time. However, this work has the potential to unlock wonderful learning outcomes for students.


January Recommended Read

Practicing Presence: Simple Self-Care Strategies for Teachers
By: Lisa J. Lucas 
Book reviewed by: Krista Dickens

Book Synopsis:

Educators~ are you feeling tired, wired and running in circles? You’re not alone. According to the Mindfulness in Schools Project (2014), teaching was ranked as the second most stressful profession, right behind ambulance driving. The epidemic of overworked, overextended and exhausted educators appears to be growing. The reality is that programs and curriculum don’t teach; educators teach. SST4 staff book of the month, Practicing Presence: Simple Self-Care Strategies for Teachers by Lisa K. Lucas focuses on supporting the variable that matters the most: the educator.
Educators spend more waking time with a child than most parents do. We need healthy, happy, well-rested educators to be positive role models of self-care for our students. We also need socially and emotionally competent educators to be present to support students to create a classroom climate that is conducive to learning. Practicing Presence can help educators address stress and focus on personal practices to support mindful teaching. This book is an easy and engaging read. Each chapter is organized by information regarding a specific topic (including but not limited to: practicing presence, responding rather than reacting, simple self-care, eliminating distractions, noticing negativity, collaboration verse conflict). It also includes very simple, yet specific strategies and resources for educators to use immediately. Each chapter wraps up with classroom connections which includes ideas, activities and resources to connect the content of the chapter to practices with your PreK- 12 grade students. This book will empower you by fueling you with information. However, it will be up to you to use it to live a more fully present, joyful life and reconnect with the reason you chose teaching. 

Why I Recommend This Book:

Why this book? Conversations I have with educators about student behavior often begin with the educator…are they in a good place? Are they practicing self- care? If not, we know their classroom management can be compromised, the climate of the classroom can become less than optimal, they can demonstrate less empathy towards their students, have less tolerance for disruptive behavior and they themselves become emotionally exhausted and suffer burn-out. While in Chicago this Fall for the National PBIS Conference, I attended a session regarding resiliency of the caregiver. Practicing Presence was referenced throughout the session. I ordered it before the session was even over. I wanted it (even felt like I needed it) to support the work I do with educators. Surprisingly, I found myself absorbing the content personally and applying it immediately to my life. I have purchased the book as a gift for teachers in my life and want to encourage you to do the same…a gift to yourself or an educator in your life.  

Throughout the month of January, we will tweet simple self- care strategies identified in this book @SSTRegion4 on Twitter. Kick off 2020 in a healthy and happy way: give the strategies a try, share them with others, retweet them or comment to let us know what you think. Happy New Year, from our SST4 family to yours! 

December Recommended Podcast

Dark Horse

By: Todd Rose 


(Click image to go to Podcast) 

Podcast reviewed by:  Steve Ramos

Podcast Synopsis:

Todd Rose, educator and author, discusses his latest co-authored book, Dark Horse, in this Harper Academic podcast.  Todd explores “dark horses,” or people in our society who achieved beyond expectations when their peers did not see it coming.  Rose analyzes the mindset of these individuals to determine what and how they became successful.  In a nutshell, dark horses are those people who pursue fulfillment and find success (as opposed to those who pursue success and hope for fulfillment).

Why I Recommend This Podcast: 

The idea of Todd Rose’s “dark horse” intrigued me as a reader, parent, and educator.  Having two children who are bright, learn very differently, and have their own ideas of fulfillment and success made this podcast ring true!

November Recommended Podcast

Mind Shift



(Click image to go to Podcast) 

Podcast reviewed by:  Lori Pinchot

Podcast Synopsis:

This series of podcasts goes beyond the grades, test scores and extra-curriculars to explore other points of learning.

Why I Recommend This Podcast: 

I particularly like season four which delves into topics such as: anxiety, the importance of play, school lunch and teaching about privilege and power. The perspectives from the students are so interesting. Each podcast is approximately 20 minutes in length, which is perfect for the workday commute. There are also supplemental blog posts at and you can tweet @MindShiftKQED.

October Recommended Podcast

Educate Podcast
By: APMreports
 (Click image to go to Podcast)

Podcast reviewed by:  Teresa Brown

Podcast Synopsis:

Stories about education, opportunity, and how people learn. Digs deep into education research and how research translates into policy. Some of the podcast feeds are dedicated solely to documentaries.


Why I Recommend This Podcast: 

This podcast is relevant to every educator and presents discussions on a variety of topics from student engagement to higher education.  I was particularly interested in the episodes “At a loss for Words: What’s wrong with how schools teach reading” and “Hard Words: why aren’t kids being taught to read?”  The stories and research presented challenged my thinking of how children learn to read. 

September Recommended Podcast

Class Act: Updates in Education Law
by: Walter Haverfield, Attorneys At Law
(Click image to go to Podcast) 

Book reviewed by:  Sonia Stevenson

Book Synopsis:

The challenges schools are facing today are increasing in scope and complexity. Why not spend your commute staying on top of the latest court decisions, best practices and emerging issues for school administrators?

Join Walter Haverfield education law attorneys Miriam Pearlmutter and Lisa Wolosynek, on their podcast, "Class Act: Updates in Education Law," for a discussion on timely topics. Learn about pitfalls for 504 plans, how to handle situations involving social media, including students with disabilities, and many more topics.

Why I Recommend This Book:

This podcast is relevant, engaging, and targets topics that many school administrators are facing every day. During your drive, get up to speed on the latest court cases, legal updates and best practices for educators in this conversational podcast! 

August Recommended Podcast

Coaching for Leaders
by: Dave Stachowiak 
(Click image to go to Podcast) 

Podcast Reviewed By: Pam Kennedy

Podcast Synopsis:

Looking for a way to incorporate some powerful professional development into your day? Use your daily commute and download Coaching for Leaders with Dave Stachowiak. As Stachowiak, with years of leadership at Dale Carnegie and his own global leadership academy states, "Leaders aren't born, they're made." These podcasts are a great start. 

Valued by many, this 5-star podcast is downloaded 150,000 times monthly by leaders in all fields interested in conversations with best-selling authors and in learning the latest research. Dave's interviews and guests consistently introduce new tools you can depend on daily as either a systems or instructional coach. After each podcast, your professional tool box will burst with intriguing ideas and imaginative resources. That's right on target with Dave's goal to "help leaders discover practical wisdom, build meaningful relationships and create movement for genuine results." 

Additional materials can be found at the Coaching for Leaders website. The Dashboard provides access to archived podcasts like those with Patrick Lencioni and Michael Bungay Stanier. The Resources tab links you to on-line courses, additional materials and affiliated podcasts. Don't skip the Book Notes tab where Dave shares personal highlights and notes from current best sellers in the field often before the author's interview is even podcast.

Why I Recommend This Podcast: 

Make that time spent commuting work for you. Share it with Dave Stachowiak as he provides the latest on professional development for coaches in all fields.