Patricia here from the EB Academics team, and as a member of the team, I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy of Caitlin and Jessica’s book, The Empowered ELA Teacher. I’m currently a curriculum writer, and I found it to be inspiring, as it pushed me to raise my expectations and expand my boundaries. But I have to say, it also made me want to hop into a time machine and lend it to my past self, during the years when I was treading water as a teacher.
I taught language arts for more than a decade, and I loved it. I was good at it. But I was also exhausted by it. Lesson planning and grading took up my nights, my weekends, and my breaks. When I started my family, something had to give, and school is what gave. In my last few years I recycled more lessons than I would have liked, and I spent way too many days teaching something I had just planned the day before. The students were patient with me, but I know they could sense that I wasn’t prioritizing their needs or my own. This book would have changed that for me, and if you’re in a similar position now, I hope it empowers you to make the changes that will give you the teaching life and personal life that you really want.
So how can this book do that? Let’s take a look at the core concepts!
What to Expect From Our New Book
1. Shift Your Mindset
Of course, the mindset that is keeping you where you are isn’t going to get you to where you want to be. And if you are like most of us as teachers, there are some aspects of your teacher life that you would like to change. The book begins by inspiring readers to make a commitment to stop thinking about making significant changes and start making them. I wish I had read this chapter before my last few years in the classroom, when I was burning the candle at both ends. I was treading water but not willing to leave my comfort zone, as this book would have helped me do. It all starts with the right mindset.
2. Empowering Yourself
Of course, the book doesn’t leave you there. Even a mindset committed to change won’t help much if you don’t know what kinds of changes to make! This next part of the book will inspire you to expect more of yourself and your students, as you learn to include three components in your lesson planning and teaching: engagement, rigor, and a lesson planning framework. That last part is especially important because it is what will free up your personal time, helping you achieve a balance between teaching and life outside of school. (And yes, you can have a life outside of school!)
3. Increasing Engagement
Okay. You’re committed to changing your mindset. You’re inspired to add rigor and engagement to your lessons. Now what? The Empowered ELA Teacher will give you tips on increasing student buy-in, motivation, and participation, as well as help you generate engaging lessons. The book even provides prompts to help you brainstorm ideas, using your own memories and experiences. I came up with one of my favorite lessons, an Allusions Egg Hunt, right after reading this section and going through the prompts myself! I took Jessica’s advice and used my own experience (a recent library egg hunt with my son, which we both loved) to create a similar, but more grade-level and content-appropriate experience for students.
Of course, you don’t have to create everything yourself! The book offers ready-made, engaging activities that you can use right away! More on that later.
4. Increasing Rigor
Who has ever found themselves thinking, “I’d love to do this lesson, but I don’t think my students can handle it”? (You can’t see me, but I’m raising my hand right now.) Caitlin and Jessica will challenge you to raise your expectations, which will not only increase student learning, but make you one proud teacher! The book asks, “What if instead of assuming a piece of literature or a writing assignment is just too hard for our students, we created lessons stemming from the mindset that our students’ success is inevitable?” This powerful shift in thinking is the basis for the great lesson planning advice that this section offers. Additionally, it gives helpful tips on differentiation, so you can reach every level of reader during your lessons.
5. Lesson Planning Effectively
All of this information probably sounds wonderful and a little overwhelming at the same time. Don’t worry – with all these inspiring ideas comes practical advice on making rigor and engagement happen, and it doesn’t mean endless late nights at work.
The EB Lesson Planning Approach will help you learn how to batch plan, which is one of the keys to feeling confident and, well, empowered in your teaching. Learn how to do your planning up front, so you can avoid the rush and stress of day-by-day planning. The book will show you how to use a scope and sequence, use your ELA standards as your guide in planning, and incorporate our “Into, Through, and Beyond” approach to make lesson planning quicker and more logical. Caitlin and Jessica also share their invaluable “rinse and repeat” advice, which I promise you will use and love!
6. Keeping Your Resolution
Most of us have had the experience of making a resolution in our lives (eating better, exercising more, reducing our screen time, etc.), finding temporary success, and then backsliding. This does not have to be the case here! The Empowered ELA Teacher will show you how to stay empowered with great tips for keeping your success going. You can do this!
7. The Icing On the Cake
It’s pretty much a given that while you’re reading this book, you are going to get pumped up to try some engaging, rigorous lessons right away. Thankfully, the appendix is full of ready-to-use resources – head to your copy room and start using them right away! So many resources are included: a Grammar State Fair, Escape Room, Mock Trial, and more!
If you’re looking to improve your teaching game and take back your personal life, I really hope you grab yourself a copy of The Empowered ELA Teacher. It’s available starting today! Bonus: you can also snatch up a copy of our free Book Club Kit by clicking here!