Teaching & Learning

Independent Book Study

There is no better time to enjoy a book than during the dog days of summer. Be sure to reserve time to enjoy many good works of fiction, because nothing beats a good story! But there are several works of professionally relevant nonfiction that will keep your head in the game and can earn up to two hours of CPE credit (https://bit.ly/TSTAbookCPE). At a time when our legislators are trying hard to remove books from the classroom, take heart that they cannot remove them from your own summer reading list!

The list below comes from titles TSTA’s Teaching and Learning Specialist has enjoyed and/or recommendations from Teaching and Learning departments from other NEA state affiliates.

The Politics of Education

The Privatization of Everything: How the Plunder of Public Goods Transformed America and How We Can Fight Back, by Donald Cohen and Allen Mikaelian.

A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door: The Dismantling of Public Education and the Future of School, by Jack Schneider and Jennifer Berkshire.

A Search for Common Ground: Conversations about the Toughest Questions in K-12 Education, by Frederick Hess and Pedro Noguera.

The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession, by Dana Goldstein


Unmasking AI: My Mission to Protect What is Human in a World of Machines, by Joy Buolamwini.

Disruptive Fixation: School Reform and the Pitfalls of Techno-Idealism, by Christo Sims.


Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, by Cathy O’Neil.

Street Data: A Next-Generation Model for Equity, Pedagogy, and School Transformation, by Shane Safir and Jamila Dugan.

Testing Education: A Teacher’s Memoir, by Kathy Greeley.

Grading for Equity: What It is, Why it Matters, and How it Can Transform Schools and Classrooms, by Joe Feldman.

Understanding Instructionally Useful Assessment, by Carla Evans and Scott Marion.

Social Emotional Learning

The Geranium on the Windowsill Just Died But Teacher You Went Right On, by Albert Cullum

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

The Care Crisis: What Caused It and How Can We End It? by Emma Dowling.

Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators, by Elena Aguilar

Designing a Prosocial Classroom: Fostering Collaboration in Students from PreK-12 with the Curriculum You Already Use, by Christi Bergin.

The School Wellness Wheel: A Framework Addressing Trauma, Culture, and Mastery to Raise Student Achievement, by Mike Ruyle.

The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness, by Jonathan Haidt.

Culturally Responsive Teaching

Unearthing Joy: A Guide to Culturally and Historically Responsive Curriculum and Instruction, by Gholdy Muhammad.

Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, by Zaretta Hammond.

We Got This: Equity, Access, and the Quest to Be Who Our Students Need Us to Be, by Cornelius Minor.

I Read It, But I Don’t Get It, by Cris Tovani.

Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy, by Gholdy Muhammad.

Organizing for Justice

Teacher Unions and Social Justice: Organizing for the Schools and Communities our Students Deserve, edited by Michael Charney, Jesse Hagopian, Bob Peterson.

Imagination: A Manifesto, by Ruha Benjamin.

Agency testimony

TSTA boasts a team of dedicated educational policy experts to represent the interests of TSTA members and students at the State Board of Education, State Board for Educator Certification and the Texas Education Agency. Here we’ll post recent testimony that we’ve presented to these agencies, and to interim House and Senate committees.

Rule comments on School Safety Allotment

American Indian/Native Studies innovative course SBOE testimony

No contact rule SBOE testimony

TEA: Concerning school safety requirements

SBEC: Concerning counseling public school students

House Public Education committee: Educator compensation

House Public Education committee: Educator certification

House Ways & Means Committee: Chapter 313

House Committee on Business and Industry: Addressing the Texas teacher shortage

SBOE: Social Studies TEKS

House Public Education committee: Student Assessment

House Select Committee on Youth Health and Safety

SBOE: Social Studies TEKS testimony

Senate Special Committee to Protect All Texans

SBOE: Generation 27 Charter School Proposals

House Public Education committee: Implementing legislation from 87th session

House Public Education committee: School Mental Health Resources

TEA: Requirements for Mandatory School Drills

TEA: Requirement for Accelerated Instruction

SBOE: Contract Abandonment

TEA: Teacher Incentive Allotment

SBEC: Certification Exams for Educator Licensure

SBEC: Virtual Observation

SBEC: Continuing Professional Education Requirements

 Fact sheets

TEA Library Guidance

Contract Abandonment rule changes

The Dyslexia Handbook updates

The facts about charter schools in Texas

HB 785 FAQ—HB 785 relates to behavior improvement plans and behavioral intervention plans for certain public school students and notification and documentation requirements regarding certain behavior management techniques.

Pre-kindergarten learning materials from SBOE

The State Board of Education (SBOE) has adopted new English and Spanish instructional materials for prekindergarten, which is the result of a rigorous review and adoption process. Local districts set their own policies for selecting instructional materials for their students, but these must include the requirement that materials are selected in an open meeting. Districts are limited to materials that have been approved and adopted through the SBOE process.

The newly adopted prekindergarten instructional materials.

The result of the quality review for each of the adopted products.

Check out TSTA’s micro-credential portal

Lifelong professional learning is essential in education, and in an effort to make it easier for all educators to access these opportunities the National Education Association has developed NEA Micro-credentials, and TSTA has launched its own Texas-branded portal.

A micro-credential is a short, competency-based digital recognition that allows an educator to demonstrate mastery in a particular area, such as classroom management or trauma-informed pedagogy. NEA micro-credentials are grounded in research and best practice and are designed to be personalized and flexible. At 150 and growing, NEA has the largest library of micro-credentials designed by and for educators.

Micro-credentials through the TSTA portal are available to all educators, members and non-members alike. However, TSTA members will have access to NEA’s full catalogue at no cost and will be able to earn continuing professional education (CPE) credits.

NEA recognizes that meeting many of the face-to-face requirements of micro-credentials during the COVID-19 crisis is difficult and so has created several stacks that are relevant to and support distance learning.

The average micro-credential process is self-paced but will take about 10 hours over the course of 2-3 weeks to complete. NEA recommends that members complete them alongside others in a professional learning community (PLC) or study group. Each course will include several components and will require teacher submissions such as written, video or audio response.

Upon completion, members will be asked to email their Micro-credential badge to Carrie Griffith at carrieg@tsta.org in order to be issued a TSTA CPE certificate.

Link to TSTA portal

NEA micro-credential explanation video

The demerits of merit pay

It’s worth taking a moment to step back and remember why teacher merit pay and bonus systems are just a bad idea. (Hint: classrooms aren’t corporations.)

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Building a world-class CTE program

We find ourselves at a moment in which learners must develop knowledge, skills, and competencies to succeed in an uncertain future and adapt to a dynamically changing world. While the pace of change is accelerating at an exponential rate, the needs of learners are also becoming more complex, and their interests increasingly more diverse.

That’s why it’s important to completely rethink what career and technical education looks like in our country. To many people, CTE, once called vocational education, conjures up memories of making muffins in a home economics class, or shop and auto-body-repair classes. In the worst ways it was instruction for kids perceived not to be “college material.”

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Student turnover slows academic growth

Meticulous reports flow in on enrollment, attendance, test scores, dropout rates and college-entrance exam results. You can track students by race and income at every school and pull up each teacher’s salary and experience. But no one is widely tracking a key group of students whose actions, experts say, may be thwarting efforts to improve education: Kids who move around a lot.

Texas is alone in its definition of mobility: Students in a school for less than 83 percent of the school year. That’s closer to the definition of chronic absenteeism, a related but different issue. Texas officials say that’s purposeful: They want to capture students who are moving as well as those who are chronically missing.

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How dress codes criminalize males and sexualize females of color

When students are disciplined because of how they are dressed, they lose class time — for a five-minute hallway lecture, 20 minutes to search through a bin of “appropriate” clothes to wear, an hour-long trip home, or even a full-day suspension. Perhaps even worse than losing out on instructional time, they also receive the message — whether explicit or implicit — that there is something wrong with their clothing choices or their bodies.

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Teaching civility and public discourse in the classroom

There’s been a lot of talk lately about what constitutes civility. Much of this debate illustrates why it’s so important to discuss this concept in the classroom—and why it’s critical we frame the conversation about civility with historical context. When we build these connections for students, it’s easier for them to understand current political discourse and to decide how to engage each other.

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NEPC offers monthly education podcast

The National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, is a resource for peer-reviewed education policy information. Each month from September through May the organization releases an NEPC Education Interview of the Month.

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More K-12 schools are providing additional services for homeless students

In the 2019-20 school year, the number of homeless students in Texas was estimated to be 111,411 and there were more than 1.2 million homeless students enrolled in public schools across the nation, according to the National Center for Homeless Education, and that is just the number of students who were identified as homeless. Homeless students are notoriously hard to identify because families or unaccompanied teens are often fearful or ashamed to make their status known. Teachers may be the first to notice signs of homelessness: fatigue, wearing the same clothes, carrying their belongings with them, or hoarding food.

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The National Center for Homeless Education

Trauma and learning in America’s classrooms

Whether working in a rural, urban or suburban district, all teachers should expect to confront issues with children who have experienced trauma — more than half of the students enrolled in public schools have faced traumatic or adverse experiences and one in six struggles with complex trauma (Felitti & Anda, 2009) — and all teachers should understand how trauma affects students’ social, emotional, and academic growth.

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Research-tested benefits of brain breaks

Regular breaks throughout the school day — from short brain breaks in the classroom to the longer break of recess — are not simply downtime for students. Such breaks increase their productivity and provide them with opportunities to develop creativity and social skills.

Read more about brain breaks.

When students assault teachers

It’s no secret that violence seems to be on the rise in schools, especially at the elementary level. Teachers report more aggressive behavior than ever before, aimed at both other students and teachers themselves. This uptick in student violence has teachers on edge, worried for their own safety as well as their students’. Many feel helpless in the face of it and question their choice of career.

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Parents stressed by rigor of Kindergarten

Kindergarten, where children were once encouraged to play and adjust to the rhythms of the school day, has long been evolving. But many parents new to modern-day elementary schooling say they have been shocked to find their children in a pressure cooker of rigorous academics, standardized tests, homework and what seem like outrageous expectations.

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Recruiting and retaining diverse educators

American public schools reflect diversity only in their student populations, but not necessarily in their teaching force. Additionally, there are more than 460 languages are represented in U.S. classrooms. At present, students of color out-number non-Hispanic white students in K-12 classrooms, and it is estimated that one in four students is an immigrant or an English language learner.

Despite efforts to recruit and retain teachers of color, the teaching workforce remains predominantly white.

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Resources on the Holocaust and Genocide

The Holocaust has challenged the cognitive and communicative faculties of even those who were firsthand witnesses to its atrocities. Survivors refer to an inability to believe their own eyes in the moment, which affects their ability to record their experiences.

As educators who live in a time and place far removed from those events, we, too, are confronted with the difficulty of finding appropriate words, images, and mental models to make comprehensible the unimaginable. Yet it is our responsibility to do so. With regard to historical accuracy, sensitivity to student needs and to the subject matter, and appropriate levels of engagement, how may we most effectively reach students? What are the best practices in the classroom?

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) offers the following helpful guidelines on teaching about the Holocaust.

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Bully Free: It Starts with Me

There is no place for bullying in our schools. Educators know that this isn’t about politics, but simply that every student deserves a safe, welcoming, affirming learning environment. In fact, research shows that learning is stunted when the most basic need to feel safe and respected is not met.

So, what can you do to protect your students from bullies?  One of the most important things you can do as an educator is to educate yourself about bullying in our schools.

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