Brianne Gidcumb | April 2016

Books for Personal and Professional Development: Volume 3

This year, I introduced you to my effort to hold myself accountable to my 2016 resolution: to increase my reading on topics of personal and professional development. Over the past two months, I’ve shared my reads and recommendations in the hopes that you find something that will be beneficial to your own personal and professional development. Today, I share with you my third installment!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is Marie Kondo’s step-by-step guide for simplifying and organizing your physical space. This book may be particularly useful for educators- even the most organized, Type-A teacher can find their desk buried under a pile of papers, lesson plans, and materials. While this book is intended to declutter your home by determining which items “spark joy,” the same principle can be applied to our professional space: rid ourselves of the things that don’t serve us and make room for those that do!

In light of the changes and stresses I’ve experienced in the past several months, professionally and personally, this book resonated with me particularly as a means of simplifying life just a bit. Those who have followed my posts over the past few years know my fascination with techniques for simplifying (see Maximizing Your Classroom with Minimalism). Any steps we can take to simplify our lives will ease our other burdens along the way and create space for the things that serve us and will, in turn, benefit our students!

The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity

George Couros offers a walk through how we as educators can respond to students’ natural curiosity to foster creativity and develop life-long learning skills in our students. The high-stakes, cookie-cutter model of education that has been in place for too long does not foster the life-long skills that our students will need to become forward-thinking leaders- skills such as creativity, critical thinking, and innovation.

This book features some great opportunities to connect via social media with hashtags and QR codes, quotes related to innovation in education, discussion questions to deepen understanding of content, and extensive resources that will guide the reader towards other great titles related to innovation and creativity in education. In order to provide our students with opportunities to develop these skills, we as educators must also strive for innovation by fostering our own growth mindset, embracing change, and thinking outside the box!

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Confession: I’ve read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love more times than I can count. So when I saw a new Gilbert book on the shelf, of course it was placed on the “to-read” list. In Big Magic, Gilbert shares her perspective on what it is to be creative: the attitudes, habits, and processes of creative living. She urges us to “push deeper into the world, to explore more bravely…take an honest inventory of the education you already have- the years you have lived, the trials you have endured, the skills you have learned along the way.” So many of us already possess the tools to live creatively, but we refrain. A great read for educators, Big Magic may inspire you to live more mindfully and find your passion, opening the door for creativity.

About the Author

Brianne is a former music educator from Chicago and current graduate class instructor with EdCloset’s Learning Studios. She earned her Masters degree in Music Education from VanderCook College of Music and has over a decade of experience in the elementary general music classroom. With her experience in the performing arts, Brianne is dedicated to building connections between the arts and Common Core Standards, 21st century learning skills, inquiry and project-based learning. In addition to her work with EducationCloset, Brianne is a yoga instructor in the Chicagoland area. You can also find Brianne here: