Reading in My Car - Using Travel Time to Your Advantage

I used to live only 5 minutes away from where I taught.  It was great - easy commute, run home if I forgot something, let the puppy out that year we decided that was a good idea.

Now I drive 20-25 minutes each way to my new school.  It was an hard at first, then it became ok, and now I wouldn't trade it for anything.  The key to loving my commute:  books!  My school and local library both have large collections of  audiobooks.  I plug my iPad into the audio outlet, and I'm ready.  I've also learned not just any book will do.

The first book I listened to was Goldfinch by Donna Tart.  I listened in the car and also read the print book at home, a method that works well for me for fiction.  I did the same with Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken.  I love listening to the books being read, but also need to see the print - words and names on the page.  That first year was filled with rich literature and autobiographies that transported me to other worlds and lives.  I loved it.

During my second year I began to notice that what I read directly impacted my day and my classroom.  As I listened to Jillian Michael's Unlimited, I found myself infusing tips for better living into my classes.  I had a spring in my step.  I got things done and made fewer excuses.  This was very different from how I felt when I listened to literature.  Then, I arrived at school and had to pull myself away from the lives in the story, almost shake my head to get back to real life and my day ahead.  With this nonfiction book, I was ready to take on the world.  Was it just Jillian's book, or was it the type of book?

I decided to experiment.

I tried all different kinds of motivational books for a while - from inspirational to educational to self-help to business, and for me, they all work.  When I listen to books that share tips on being more productive, living your best life, or even how to avoid procrastination, my day improves dramatically.  Most recently, I listened to Ron Clark's Move Your Bus, which challenged me to think about my role in my school.  Am I doing my part to improve the lives of my students and to make my school the best it can be?  Then I listened to Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy and was infused with tips on how to focus, prioritize and be more efficient.

This all weaves into my lessons.  We know high school students' frontal lobes are under construction, and it benefits all of them when we directly teach methods of organization, prioritizing, and time management.  My students especially, who are already struggling, definitely benefit.  Now it's not just what we're doing that matters; it's also how we're going to do it.

The best benefit?  JOY!  Not only has my commute become more enjoyable and useful, but my day is.  I feel driven with purpose and energy.  I feel in control of my day and my attitude, and let me tell you, that makes a huge difference.

I'd love to hear more titles that others have found inspire them to live and teach with purpose.  Leave me a comment and share your ideas!

Happy Sunday!


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