Staff Recommended Read/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!

May Recommended Read

Atomic Habits

By: James Clear

Book Reviewed By: Liesl Blackwell

Book Synopsis:

Book author, James Clear, defines an atomic habit as a regular practice or routine that is small and easy but also contains great impact. It is also identified that habits are established as solutions to problems that we face. These habits are not necessarily the BEST solutions to our problems but are simply the methods that we learned to use to meet our needs. When we establish bad habits, we will repeat these habits over and over again, not because we don't desire to change, but rather because we have the wrong system in place to bring about the change that we desire. Build your system, implement small, atomic habits, and stick to them over time. These small changes, over time, can result in great impact.

Why I Recommend This Book: 

This book spoke to me both personally and professionally. Do you have personal changes that you would like to make but you just can't seem to make those changes stick? Does your organization seem to be stuck in a cycle of working hard but you aren't seeing the outcomes desired? Sometimes change seems very overwhelming as there may be MANY things that need to be addressed. The author helps to synthesize this into one simple statement, focus not on what you want to achieve but on who you wish to become. Who do you want to BE? What systems for change can you create? How do you replace bad habits with atomic habits? This is great food for thought for anyone looking to make improvements at home or at work.

April Recommended Podcast

Science of Reading: The Podcast

By: Amplify Education 

(Click image to go to podcast)

Podcast Reviewed By: Jennifer Kuhn

Podcast Synopsis:

Science of Reading: The Podcast delivers the latest insights from researchers and practitioners in early reading. Each episode takes a conversational approach and explores a timely topic related to the science of reading.

Why I Recommend This Podcast: 

For those looking to learn about the Science of Reading and all it encompasses, hearing it first hand from the experts in the field, is the way to go! Each episode focuses on a different topic, which creates a layer of understanding and interwoven connections that make  the Science of Reading engaging and understandable. The podcast offers show notes with key quotes and resources for the reader to explore further on their own, while allowing you to initially listen while on the go or while multitasking.  The podcast offers complex topics in manageable bite-sized pieces and allows the listener to dig deeper into the areas that fit their interests and needs. 

March Recommended Podcast

Teach by Design 

By:  (Click the image to go to Podcast)

Podcast reviewed by: Carrie McClure

Podcast Synopsis:

Teach by Design transforms complex research into straight-forward solutions. They give K-12 leaders and educators tools and strategies that are needed to make their classrooms more effective and equitable places where more time is spent on teaching and less time is spent negotiating student behavior.

Why I Recommend This Podcast:

Teach by Design and Expert Instruction podcasts help support educators to improve classroom and school climate. Episodes and podcasts address current issues with experts and provides short doable steps to grow us professionally and support equitable practices. Recent episodes focus on utilizing student voice and intervening for microaggressions. I subscribe to the monthly Teach by Design to add tools to support building leaders and PBIS coaches. 

February Recommended Read

Your Students, My Students, Our Students: Rethinking Equitable and Inclusive Classrooms

By: Lee Ann Jung, Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher, and Julie Kroener


Book Reviewed By: Lori Pinchot 

Book Synopsis:

Your Students, My Students, Our Students explores our current special education practice and outlines five essential disruptions to achieve authentic and equitable inclusion rather than the status quo.

- Establish a school culture that champions equity and inclusion.

- Rethink the long-standing structure of least restrictive environment and the resulting service delivery.

- Leverage the strengths of all educators to provide appropriate support and challenge.

- Collaborate on the delivery of instruction and intervention.

- Honor the aspirations of each student and plan accordingly.


Just as this book emphasizes all students, this book is for all educators

Why I Recommend This Book: 

I liked that this book gave real-life examples of challenges and solutions.  It also  focuses on the foundational belief that every student belongs to every staff member. Districts need to change their culture to support expansion of every student’s access to both general education and intervention supports and services.  

January Recommended Read

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace
By: Gary Chapman & Paul White

Book reviewed by: Krista Dickens

Book Synopsis:

All educational staff... from the bus garage all the way to central office are sharing with us that this is one of the hardest school years yet, especially with the shortage of subs/ being short staffed. This made me think long and hard about my recommendation for this month's book, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Gary Chapman & Paul White.

This book is a short, easy and engaging read. It can help all of us understand, express and address appreciation in the workplace regardless of the position we hold. Expressing appreciation for those who are continuing to show up each day for students is a small but powerful thing that can make a significant and positive impact on those we work with as well as our own happiness

Authors, Chapman and White discuss the importance of appreciation in the workplace, what it is, the 5 different types and how it works in different settings. Additionally, the MBA Inventory helps identify your primary & secondary languages of appreciation as well as the language that's least meaningful to you. 

Why I Recommend This Book:

I know this book would be valuable and interesting to everyone in a school setting especially now, but I believe it can be especially impactful to those who hold leadership positions- of any type. If you do, in fact, read this book, I invite you to share your workplace appreciation language with me (via email: [email protected] or Twitter: @kdickens001).  I would love to hear what yours is and how you’re using this new information. PS- mine is...words of affirmation. Happy reading! 

December Recommended Read

RTI for Reading at the Secondary Level

By: Deborah K. Reed, Jade Wexler, and Sharon Vaughn 

Book reviewed by: Crystal Bryski

Book Synopsis:

Grounded in the best current knowledge, this book shows how to implement response to intervention (RTI) in middle and high school contexts. Detailed guidelines are presented for teaching reading comprehension, vocabulary, and other aspects of literacy across the content areas, and for providing effective interventions for students who require additional support. The authors describe RTI procedures that are specifically tailored to the needs of struggling adolescent learners and that take into account the challenges and logistics of secondary-level implementation. The volume features 26 reproducible tools for planning, assessment, progress monitoring, and multi-tiered instruction; the large-size format facilitates photocopying.

Why I Recommend This Book: 

This book guides building and district leadership to reevaluate their RTI framework and reflect on what intentional, purposeful, and meaningful teaching, learning, and intervention at the secondary level looks and sounds like. This book also provides practical resources that can be used immediately to help strengthen building and district instructional practices.  

November Recommended Read

Reimagining Special Education: Using Inclusion as a Framework to Build Equity and Support All Students

By: Jenna Mancini Rufo and Julie Causton

Book Reviewed By: Tricia McCollum

Book Synopsis:

As schools reopen their doors and students return to the classroom, what will the new normal of special education look like? The pandemic exposed educational inequities and areas of urgent need - and now schools have a unique opportunity to press pause and reimagine their practices. This book helps K-12 school leaders and educators closely examine what worked during distance learning, let go of practices that keep some students struggling, and plan new routines and environments that meet the needs of every learner.

Why I Recommend This Book:

Reimagining Special Education challenges us to take a closer look at how we are providing meaningful inclusion to our students with special needs. Chapters 5 and 6 focus on revitalizing co-teaching and realigning service delivery methods. I enjoyed reading about the roles of an inclusion facilitator and envisioning how a consultative model of special education can shift the focus from changing the child to changing the environment. This is a great book for building teams to help build excitement around meaningful inclusive practices!

October Recommended Read

Innovate Inside the Box: Empowering Learners 
Through UDL and the Innovator's Mindset
By: George Couros with Katie Novak


Book Reviewed By: Steve Ramos

Book Synopsis:

Innovate Inside the Box: Empowering Learners Through UDL and the Innovator’s Mindset, is a collaborative effort by educational gurus George Couros and Katie Novak.  The end result is that it applies the Principles of Universal Design for Learning (Engagement, Representation, and Action & Expression) to the eight characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset: Empathy, Problem Finders-Solvers, Risk-Takers, Networked, Observant, Creators, Resilient, & Reflective.  The end result is a formula for teaching students (and self) skills to create an innovative mindset, environment, and framework to best utilize resources to overcome barriers and constraints to be successful learners (and teachers)!


Why I Recommend This Book: 

What an engaging and amazing book by two incredible educators!  This book was perfect for me, in that it not only aligned with my ideas of educating students (focus on deep learning and not on the test scores) but also provided a framework with concrete examples on how to: develop a growth mindset; the importance of not just solving problems, but finding problems that are personal and acting on them; how to exhibit and teach resilience; and the importance of reflection (reflection connects performance to potential).  If you are an educator who wants (or already has) moved beyond the traditional 4 walls and 30 desks in a classroom, this book is for you!

September Recommended Read

Districts That Succeed: Breaking the Correlation Between 
Race, Poverty, and Achievement
by: Karin Chenoweth

Book reviewed by: Teresa Brown

Book Synopsis:

What do successful districts look like? How do the leaders in them think about improvement and school leadership? What do they do differently? Districts that succeed, profiles five districts that have successfully broken the correlation between race, poverty, and achievement. The author explores the common elements that have led to success, including leadership, processes, and systems in districts that serve children of color and children from low-income backgrounds. 

Why I Recommend This Book:

Districts that succeed is a very timely and important book. Many districts are examining data that reveal disproportionality for children of color and children from low-income backgrounds. A student’s background cannot be an excuse for low achievement.  The book does an excellent job of identifying a diverse set of districts who are all approaching their work through different frames but who are all also executing key practices that allow them to make progress over time.