I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.”
~John Steinbeck

Summer is here! Enter self-care, family time, and relaxation. After you emerge from your two-week binge of sleeping, Netflix marathoning, and perhaps even hitting the gym, you’ll be ready to read a few books to make next school year even better. I’ll keep the list short, so you can actually find time to rest this summer.

Teaching and Learning

Teaching Naked

Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning

by Jose Antonio Bowen

No, this is not a book about what teaching nightmares are made of, and yes, I’ve had that nightmare. At first glance, you might think this book is anti-technology, but that’s not the case at all. It’s a big picture approach that recognizes there are better uses for classroom time than showing videos just for the sake of showing videos. It actually has a lot of ideas for incorporating technology into your course, but most of it students do at home. This subject changes so quick, so there are a few moments that might seem outdated, but most of his argument and ideas are pretty timeless. Not only that, many of his recommendations are even easier because technology has improved since its 2012 publication.

Why Teach: In Defense of a Real EducationWhy Teach?

by Mark Edmundson

I actually assign a chapter from this book in my Freshmen Composition course. When I teach this course face to face, students read four different educators and debate the best approach to teaching. Mark Edmundson’s approach is a celebration of the kind of genius and passion students of the past were made of. He contends with the consumer driven model of education that aims to entertain. I imagine his approach is the sage on the stage model that is criticized in discussions on flipping the classroom; nonetheless, he aims to advance real education and deep change in his students. As an educator, it makes my heart happy, and I do my best to create an environment where students can wrestle with ideas and pursue ideas they are passionate about.


Engaging IdeasEngaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom

by John C. Bean

No matter what subject you teach, this book will give you practical ideas to start incorporating critical thinking and writing into your course. The author recognizes more writing assignments means more grading, but he has solutions for this problem. There is a really helpful section on writing rubrics and how incorporating them into your writing assignments will add clarity to your expectations and improve student writing. If you’ve never used a rubric in your course, there are some samples you can use as a guide to structure your assignment. Rubrics also speed up grading and allows the instructor to provide more qualitative feedback. Additionally, he has quite a few ideas for low stakes writing assignments that require less intensive grading sessions from the instructor. Group work is addressed as well with tips on how to incorporate it effectively. I really appreciate how the author writes with the naysayers in mind throughout the whole text and provides some ways for instructors to design more effective courses and writing assignments.


Make it Stick: The Science of Successful LearningThe Science of Successful Learning

by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel

The beauty of this book is its focus on memory. It’s not enough to learn if the moment the test is over all that new knowledge is forgotten. What does it take to make a memory last? It’s entirely depended on encoding, consolidating, and retrieval. Sounds technical, right? Well understanding this process as an educator will help you think differently about how to relate your knowledge to your students. More importantly, this book breaks it down in a comprehensive way with tons of illustrations. You might already be familiar with the idea that the stronger the emotional experience is for a person, the deeper it embeds in the long-term memory. How does that relate to teaching? This book explores how to make the classroom experience stick. If life-long learning is the real goal, then you definitely want to figure out what makes learning, and ultimately teaching, successful.

Read Along With Me

The following books are on my summer reading list, so feel free to read or listen along while you lay out by the pool or take that road trip!

What the Best College Teachers DoWhat the Best College Teachers Do

by Ken Bain



How Learning Works: 7 Research Based Principles for Smart TeachingHow Learning Works

by Susan A. Ambrose, Michael W. Bridges, Michele D. Pietro, and Marie K. Norman



Self and SoulSelf and Soul: A Defense of Ideals

by Mark Edmundson