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Empowering Teachers: Four Must-Read Books for Social Emotional Learning

Updated: Jun 12

Empowering Teachers

Summer is upon us! While I love the rest, relaxation, and family time that summer brings, I also relish this time to reflect on the year’s ups and downs and think of how I might improve or apply new strategies in years to come! I’ve listed four books below that I believe address some of the biggest struggles I’ve seen in the areas of social emotional learning this year. From student apathy to educator burnout, these are great resources for creating positive change!


UnSelfie book

Developing a healthy sense of empathy is a key predictor of which kids will thrive and succeed in the future. Empathy may also be the antidote to apathy in some cases. Although geared towards parents, this is still a fabulous book for educators to think about how to cultivate empathy in children of all ages. Amazon describes the book as follows:


“In our hyperconnected, social-media-saturated society, many of us (especially young people) are so obsessed with snapping “selfies” and living virtual lives online that we’re forgetting how to care for the people right in front of us IRL (that’s “in real life”). The resulting Selfie Syndrome is leading to an empathy crisis among today’s youth – teens today are 40 percent less empathetic than they were just a generation ago, and narcissism has increased 58 percent during that same period.

But there is a solution: Studies show that the antidote to Selfie Syndrome is empathy. And the good news is that empathy can actually be cultivated in children, starting even before they can talk. In UnSelfie, esteemed educator Dr. Michele Borba presents new and compelling research that explains how to impart this key skill to kids – whether it’s teaching toddlers how to comfort one another or giving teens the tools to stand up to bullying – and why empathy paves the way for future happiness and success.

Caring about others isn’t just about playing nice; it’s a skill that’s vital for children’s mental health, leadership skills, and continued well-being, today and tomorrow. Dr. Borba’s nine-step plan for raising successful, happy kids who also are kind, moral, courageous, and resilient provides a revolutionary new framework for learning empathy. Empathetic kids will thrive in the future, but the seeds of success can be planted today – one habit at a time.”


Intentional Neuroplasticity Book


Educator fatigue and burnout are at an all-time high. Students are carrying their mental and emotional exhaustion into the classroom. This book explores the why AND is packed full of implementation ideas so we know how to address these ever growing challenges. Amazon describes the book as follows:

“With the growing body of research in relational and affective neuroscience, our schools can benefit and serve the whole student as we prioritize the nervous system by addressing the embodied experiences, generational and historical trauma, and the stories they hold.

Lori Desautels is a teacher, not a neuroscientist-she knows that the translations and applications from the affective, developmental, social, and relational neuroscience research are critical to educational practitioners now more than ever. No one could have been prepared for the emotional and social losses, challenging behaviors, and dysregulation that are impacting the well-being of our students during the past few years-our collective nervous systems feel the tension and unrest. Intentional Neuroplasticity: Moving Our Nervous Systems and Educational System Toward Post-Traumatic Growth can provide educators cutting-edge information, practices, tools, and exercises to regulate and empower themselves and their students for resiliency and success!”


Set Boundaries, Find Peace book

A common struggle I see educators face (myself included) is boundary setting. We must begin understanding and enforcing healthy boundaries so that we can truly enjoy life and work as we embrace our true selves! Amazon describes this book as follows:

End the struggle, speak up for what you need, and experience the freedom of being truly yourself.

Healthy boundaries. We all know we should have them – in order to achieve work/life balance, cope with toxic people, and enjoy rewarding relationships with partners, friends, and family. But what do “healthy boundaries” really mean – and how can we successfully express our needs, say “no”, and be assertive without offending others?

Licensed counselor, sought-after relationship expert, and one of the most influential therapists on Instagram Nedra Glover Tawwab demystifies this complex topic for today’s world. In a relatable and inclusive tone, Set Boundaries, Find Peace presents simple-yet-powerful ways to establish healthy boundaries in all aspects of life. Rooted in the latest research and best practices used in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), these techniques help us identify and express our needs clearly and without apology – and unravel a root problem behind codependency, power struggles, anxiety, depression, burnout, and more.”



180 Days of Self-Care for Busy Educators Book

Finally, I was recently introduced to this book as a fantastic resource for supporting the wellness of staff intentionally all year long! The SEL specialist I work with has given a book to each educator in her building. She is sending out brief weekly summaries to keep the momentum going and will be using a simple slide deck to ensure there is dedicated time for reflection and connection among staff each week in accordance with this book’s weekly invitations. What a fantastic and simple way to infuse self-care all year long! Amazon describes this book as follows: 

“Rely on 180 Days of Self-Care for Busy Educators to help you lead a happier, healthier, more fulfilled life inside and outside of the classroom. With author Tina H. Boogren’s guidance, you will work your way through thirty-six weeks of daily self-care strategies and techniques, each corresponding with a week of the school year. Weekly themes range from creativity and inspiration to relationships and time management for teachers and administrators.

Follow this self-care plan designed to support your health and wellness during the school year:

  • Understand how prioritizing your own self-care will better equip you to positively impact student learning and achievement.

  • Discover low- and no-cost self-care ideas for teachers and administrators designed to help make meaningful, positive change.

  • Explore the dangers of stress in the classroom and in an educator’s personal life, and understand how this stress affects students.

  • Learn how to assess what you need, check in with yourself throughout the day, and act on what you learn.

  • Utilize reflection questions to help you think through which strategies worked — and which didn’t.

  • Let go of the expectations of perfection while practicing these self-care techniques and teacher wellness ideas.”


In order to best serve our students, we must prioritize lifelong learning and taking time to care for ourselves. This list of books will help us move forward in both areas! The more we pour into ourselves, the more we have to offer those around us at home and at work. Enjoy the journey!

*This blog contains Amazon affiliate links. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites at no cost to you.



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