Ahhh, summertime and the living is easy . . . right? No, not really. Just because it’s June or July doesn’t mean teachers stop thinking about teaching. Most of the teachers I know spend their summers preparing for the year to come. Sometimes that means taking courses to fulfill requirements for state certifications or advanced degrees, attending week-long workshops in a specific curriculum area, or reorganizing and revamping their classroom or curricula. For me, summer was always the time to catch up on the reading that I didn’t have to do for during the school year. If you’re one of those teachers who loves to have a stack of books ready for a rainy summer morning or for a trip to the pool while your own kids take swimming lessons, I have some summer reading suggestions for you. And if you’re an administrator, any of these titles could easily turn into your team’s professional development opportunity during the upcoming school year.
Probably the biggest change I’ve seen in the field of education since I started teaching in the late ’80s has been the dramatic use of technology for students and teachers. Back then, it was a big deal to get an Apple computer in your classroom or have a small computer lab in your building. Today, it’s likely part of your classroom experience and it is certainly part of your students’ lives. The first two books on my reading list examine the implications of technology from two different angles. I found that reading them in tandem was very enlightening. The first title, Digitized: Spiritual Implications of Technology by Bernard Bull is for you, the adult. Just as the subtitle says, it helps the reader really think about the spiritual implications of our technology use today, something we don’t often consider. Next, Benjamin Boche and Jacob Hollatz’s practical Faithfully Connected: Integrating Biblical Principles in a Digital World provides all kinds of great classroom applications to use throughout the year.
When we’re in the middle of a school year, it can be challenging to ponder the deeper topics of Lutheran education. That’s why The Pedagogy of Faith: Essays on Lutheran Education by Bernard Bull is the right book for reading in the summer. Because it’s a collection of essays, you easily can pick up the book, put your feet up, read an essay in a short amount of time, and get some in-depth insights without feeling like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. Unlike a novel or a book on a particular topic, you don’t have to read this collection of essays in any particular order. Consider getting together with another teacher friend to read and talk about some of your favorite essays.
For summer reading as it relates to teaching the faith, Timeless Truth: An Essential Guide for Teaching the Faith by Pete Jurchen is a great read. What I like best about this book is that it takes big ideas, boils them down to their essential parts, and applies it to how we help students learn and confirm the faith. It asks some big questions and gives some big answers in a very readable, visual way. I love when educational theory meets theology! Whether you have seasoned, Synodically-trained teachers on your staff or teachers new to Lutheran education, or some combination of the two, this is a perfect book for a faculty to read and talk about together for professional development. And best of all, it’s free! After you sign up for your free ebook, you’ll receive a free discussion guide for discussing the books with your colleagues.
Last, but certainly not least, I always need some good fiction on my summer reading list. If you haven’t already read Lisa Clark’s Messengers series, now is the time! All three books in the trilogy (Discovered, Concealed, and Revealed) are available and before you know it, you’ll be binge reading them on the beach, in your backyard, or on that long car ride for family vacation. You’ll quickly discover how you can use them your classroom, too.
This summer, I hope your summer reading list includes some of my favorites listed here and that you find them to be helpful and insightful as you continue to grow in all facets of being a Lutheran educator.