Professional Development Book Discussion Group

Do you have a favorite professional development book? The Connecticut Association of School Librarians (CASL) wants to hear about it! Click here to share a title and learn about other professional development books.   

All Learning Is Social and Emotional grabbed my attention last summer. The book offers great ideas on how to teach and practice social-emotional skills. The invitation from CASL inspired me to start an online discussion about the book. School librarians from around the country joined me in weekly meetings for a month.  

The book inspired great conversations about SEL. The essential questions at the end of each chapter compelled us to share our experiences. We talked about the examples in the book and considered how to integrate SEL in our school libraries. Picture book recommendations at the end of the book motivated us to curate our own SEL book list. Click here to see the curated list of SEL resources. To get a closer look at some of the titles, watch the video below.

What Book Is Next?

I appreciated the opportunity to meet with such dedicated and inspiring educators. Our time together makes me want to keep going! I’d love to start another professional book discussion group. If you have a title that would love to discuss, please share! You can post it on the CASL PD Flipgrid or in the comment box below. I’ll send out an invitation to join the next book club on the AASL Member Forum. Let’s discuss a book from the ALA Store. Click here to view new and noteworthy titles. 

Reflections on the Professional Book Discussion 

Take a look at what we learned while discussing All Learning Is Social and Emotional. You may find some tips to try in your library program! 

Tiffany Clark
Teacher Librarian
Waldron Mercy Academy, Merion Station, PA

One of the silver linings to emerge from the pandemic was increased awareness of the need to focus on social emotional learning as our students struggle with schooling in an uncertain and sometimes chaotic, changing environment. In the book All Learning Is Social and Emotional, I was most moved by the last chapter focusing on public spirit. As a librarian teaching a class called “Citizens” that incorporates media literacy, digital citizenship, and civic engagement, this chapter was so helpful. It tied these concepts together with the reminder that public spirit starts with school and community and extends outward to embrace all of society. The authors say that public spirit manifests the “outward-facing aspects of social-emotional learning” (p. 118).  

The last chapter noted that the Aspen Institute stated that a primary goal for students is to accept “their responsibility to take an active role in their communities and contribute to civic life” (p. 118). This inspired me to believe that the work we’re doing in class by incorporating Common Sense Media, Checkology, and Civic Online Reasoning in lessons empowers our students with the skills they need to become informed, engaged citizens. We are also incorporating these SEL ideals by volunteering at community events, living our values, and learning from the community outside the school grounds. 

Reading the book with Maureen, Laura, Anne, and other librarians from around the country was an amazing opportunity to share ideas and experiences; many of which I will use in the library classroom!

Laura Laures
Library Media Specialist
Twin City Elementary, Stanwood, WA

I would like to encourage other teacher librarians to study books about our practice with people in similar roles. It was invaluable to me to have discussions about materials and practices that can be used each day in my library. Being the sole librarian in a school can sometimes feel lonely because no other person in your building really has a sense of what you do. Both times I’ve participated in AASL events (one course, one book study), I’ve been inspired by and connected to others in my field. In this book study, we created a great list of picture books to teach about the different aspects of SEL: identity and agency, emotional regulation, cognitive regulation, social skills and public spirit. I’ve already been able to support colleagues in my building by suggesting some of these for their classroom use. These collaborative experiences have helped me be a better librarian for my school community.

Anne Porier
School Librarian
Moses Y. Beach Elementary School, Wallingford, CT 

This professional book club was a highlight of the fall for me. All Learning Is Social and Emotional by Frey, Fisher, and Smith was a powerful professional read full of excellent insights into the importance of being aware of the educator’s impact on social and emotional development of children. Discussing the book with librarians from around the country deepened and extended my learning from this book.

Chapter 3, titled “Emotional Regulation,” reinforced and expanded on my personal philosophies of best teaching practices. As a longtime adopter of the Responsive Classroom approach, I was already in complete agreement with the thinking that in classroom spaces where peers are encouraged to police each other, there is little support for growth of SEL skills (p. 47).

The text went further to make the point that whether consciously or not, all teachers are reinforcing social and emotional learning, either in a positive or negative manner. The words we speak and the actions we take as teachers truly matter. With each interaction we are presented with an opportunity to help students name, understand, and respond to a range of emotions. Learning new content and interacting positively with others will only happen when children have the capacity to regulate their emotions. 

As a librarian, I love the idea of studying characters in picture books to help children practice accurately labeling and identifying emotions, along with instructing students directly regarding strategies that can be used to cope with strong emotions. One such strategy discussed on page 57, giving students an “escape” option, a non-punitive, safe retreat within the teaching space, can even be carried out in the school library. A cozy reading corner with child-sized, comfortable furniture and some calming books or breathing tools can provide such a space. Students would be able to regain control of their emotions in this space in order to rejoin the rest of the class. 

Lori Donovan
Library Services Specialist

This was a great book study from my perspective at the district level. Our district is looking at ways to better align SEL into our curriculum, and with our literacy focus, this is a natural and direct way to intentionally use SEL components in library and literacy instruction. It was wonderful to hear the ideas shared by those who are in buildings and get more titles to share. The openness everyone had to learn and share was empowering. I cannot wait to share this with our SEL coordinator. 

Maureen Schlosser
Author/Educator/Book Promoter

The chapter on cognitive regulation covered the topic of attention. Paying attention is something I’ve always struggled with. There are strategies I practice as an adult that I wish I learned as a young learner. The chapter explains how we can help learners notice when they lose focus and show them how to get back on track. 

Laura Laures and Anne Porier participated in the discussion about attention. They shared how they teach strategies to focus on lessons. 

  • When Laura notices that learners are fidgety, she practices a timing strategy. She challenges learners to maintain focus for ten minutes. Then, they can fidget for “ten to thirty seconds of pen clicking, pencil tapping, chair hopping and the like.” Laura notices that this keeps learners engaged in the lesson.
  • Anne incorporates mindful breathing techniques with learners. She tells learners to place their hands together. She invites them to pretend their closed hands are a book. Then, Anne walks them through a breathing exercise. As learners take a deep breath in, they open their hands, pretending to open a book. Then, learners close their imaginary books as they exhale. This activity settles learners as they transition to begin their library lesson.

I love these ideas. The authors would describe Laura and Anne as “expert teachers” because they teach learners how to focus (p. 73). It’s important to explain the benefits of practicing social-emotional strategies. That way, learners will understand why they are taking brain breaks. For example, you could say, “I’m noticing learners are losing focus on this lesson. That happens to me sometimes. When I get distracted, I practice mindful breathing. Let me show you what that looks like, and then you can give it a try.”

More about the Book

For an in-depth look at chapter two of All Learning is Social and Emotional, read my Knowledge Quest post about SEL and picture books.

Work Cited:

Frey, Nancy, Douglas Fisher, and Dominique Smith. 2019. All Learning Is Social and Emotional: Helping Learners Develop Essential Skills for the Classroom and Beyond. ASCD.


Author: Maureen Schlosser

Author: Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades and Social and Emotional Learning for Picture Book Readers published by ALA Editions
Skillshare Teacher:

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