SPED Handbook

Reading Matters   

 The Massachusetts Child

Works 4 Me

Recommended Reading: MTA members' favorite titles for new teachers

Quirky Kids by Boston pediatricians Perri Klass and Eileen Costello

We all know kids like those described in this book, but it helped me to better understand their disabilities from a medical perspective and how that translates into the social realm of school.  It is an easy, fast, interesting read. 

Liz Elder, third grade, Amherst

The Courage to Teach by Parker J. Palmer

This is a book that encourages teachers to become reflective practitioners. The author states in the Introduction that this book is "for teachers who have good days and bad, and whose bad days bring the suffering that comes only from something one loves." This line alone was enough to draw me in, because it is clear that the author understands teaching. I read this book originally for a graduate school class, but have revisited it often, especially after one of the "bad days."

Tiffany Back, fifth grade, Shrewsbury

How to Talk so Kids Can Learn by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

This is one of my favorites, which I've deemed a "reference" book. It was assigned during graduate school and since then I refer back to this user friendly "bible" when my usual classroom or one-to-one communication techniques are not working for me or my students. Topics include dealing with feelings, praise, solving problems and inviting cooperation. Even the best teachers (and parents too!) will find this a helpful reference.

Liz Elder, third grade, Amherst


A New Teacher’s Survival Guide: Everything They Forgot To Tell You During Credentialing, by Mark Nicholas Remy

In this book Mr. Remy communicates clearly, with the insight of a veteran teacher, practical knowledge of classroom teaching and classroom management. This book is a great guide to new teachers looking to develop a classroom strategy, as well as a guide to seasoned teachers looking to improve upon their teaching skills. This book is filled with practical ideas that will help create a classroom where the focus can be the curriculum and not the classroom behavior. I recommend this book to any new teachers or to veteran teachers looking for some refreshing ideas.

Jerusha Bjork, first and second grade special ed, Norton

Among Schoolchildren by Tracy Kidder

I highly recommend this book to any classroom teacher! This book spends a school year in the life of a 5th grade class in Holyoke, Massachusetts. As a 5th grade teacher, I have reread this book many times not only because I enjoy an opportunity to "observe" another’s teaching style, but also because I always find similarities and connections to what is going on in the life of my own classroom. This book is hard to put down once you get started.

Tiffany Back, fifth grade, Shrewsbury

Savage Inequalities, Death at an Early Age, The Night is Dark and I am Far from Home, Ordinary Resurrections by Jonathan Kozol

If you have not read any books by Jonathan Kozol, you should! In his books, Kozol delves into the social issues surrounding education, particularly when it comes to education funding. I will say up front that these are not easy books to read on an emotional level, and I often finish them feeling a bit drained. However, I keep coming back because of the importance of his message. He speaks for many children who do not have a voice in our society, and I believe, as teachers, we all need to be aware of these voices.

Tiffany Back, fifth grade, Shrewsbury

Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension to Enhance Understanding by Stephanie Harvey & Anne Goudvis

This book is easy to read and full of useful lessons and activities for teaching elementary students how to think about what they are reading," said Tim. "The authors offer practical suggestions that can be used in real classrooms.  Some of the topics include how to ask questions that will help students stretch their understanding, teaching students how to visualize and make connections to a text, and how to assess comprehension.  In addition, there are useful appendices that offer children's books to use with the suggested activities.

Timothy Sheehan, Amherst-Pelham

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Reading well-written literature is a kind of professional development.  The more you read, the better reader and writer/teacher you become!  I highly recommend The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.  This is a beautifully written and engaging story about a young run away girl trying to make sense of her life in connecting with women whom her deceased mother once knew.

Liz Elder, third grade, Amherst.