20 Great Books About Education to Get into This Summer

Real-life Advice from Teachers

The (Un)official Teacher’s Manual: What They Don’t Teach You in Training by Omar Akbar

This ‘off the record’ guide to teaching is a compilation of everything you wished you’d been taught before setting foot in the classroom. If you’re new to education, it’s a tremendous no-nonsense run-down of what you’re getting into (and how to own it).

This book is charmingly written and easy to read. Akbar doesn’t focus on all that curriculum-ish stuff you find in other teaching books. As he says, he’s much too busy for that (after all, he is a teacher). So instead, he cuts right to the heart of the matter. Practical, unapologetic, and valuable. A solid way to prepare yourself for heading back to school, either for the first or umpteenth time.

I Wish My Teacher Knew by Kyle Schwartz

Sometimes reading the personal revelations of other teachers is a great way to prepare yourself to return to school.

An activity inspired by this book Kyle Schwarz did with her students. She asked them to finish the sentence “I wish my teacher knew…” during a lesson. The answers she got back shocked her, and she felt compelled to share their wishes with the world. So she did: first through social media and then, eventually, through this book.

Throughout the book, Schwarz shares her thoughts on these emotional experiences she has had with her students. She also looks closely at the issues they helped open her eyes to. In doing so, she gives them a voice worth listening to.

Learner-Centered Innovation: Spark Curiosity, Ignite Passion, and Unleash Genius by Dr. Katie Martin

Has anyone been told as a little kid that caterpillars turn into butterflies? It sounded ridiculous. Lovely try, Mum, you almost got me.

Things are different now. Living in an age where information is right at our fingertips, we don’t always take the time to sit and wonder. Why would we? Let’s Google it.

Martin argues that teaching isn’t about answering students’ questions but fanning their spark of curiosity. Creativity happens when children have the time to ponder, think and explore. The ability to ask questions like ‘what if’ will lead children towards lifelong learning. The problem is creativity isn’t always the priority in schools. Martin calls for a shift from goals like test scores to innovation and problem-solving with this book. It’s an eye-opening read and a real page-turner.

Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me by Kate Clanchy

If you’re a sucker for a good story – Clanchy has loads of them! After all, she is a teacher. Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me is an honest, opinionated, insightful book of essays. It takes no detective to deduce that Clanchy loves the profession and is keen to share her stories with you. Her articles share personal anecdotes and poetry that open a window into the life of a teacher. All you have to do is take a peek!

An engaging read which inspires reflection. This book will have you reflecting on your own meaningful experiences in the classroom and itching to make more of them.

Practical Guides to Teaching and Learning

Being the Change: Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension by Sara K. Ahmed

Has a student ever asked you a question about social issues, but you haven’t known how to respond? Perhaps on politics, gender, race, religion, or sexuality?

These conversations can be uncomfortable – but that doesn’t mean we should avoid them. Being the Change is about giving teachers the skills to handle these situations. Why? Because students need to be familiar with social issues as they prepare to leave school and head into the world. This book will help you empower them through social literacy and candid conversations. According to Ahmed, ‘social comprehension’ is essential for students to become agents of positive change.

Being the Change is full of practical strategies, activities, and lessons easily transferable to the classroom. Cultivate empathy and empower your students by being the change you wish to see in the world.

Structuring Drama Work by Jonothan Neelands and Tony Goode

You may be thinking, “but I don’t teach drama.” Or maybe you do! But either way, this book can help any teacher eager to breathe new life into their lesson plans. It’s full of fresh ideas for adding dramatic twists to everyday lessons.

Studying a character in a novel? Oh, look! A backpack of their belongings just showed up in the classroom. What a fun (and convenient) conversation starter. Or maybe you’re learning about photosynthesis. Wouldn’t it be nice to chat with a plant and ask it how it works? Well, thanks to hot seating – anything’s possible.

Adding a touch of drama to your lessons can also help engage students who learn best through active, hands-on activities. This book is full of innovative suggestions and an easy recommendation for any teacher looking for inspiration.

Love to Teach by Kate Jones

Thoroughly researched, easy to read, and full of great ideas – Love to Teach will leave you itching to get back in the classroom. The tips and tricks in this book will have you approaching your lessons in a whole new way. They’re fun and straightforward and will make you wonder why you have never tried them.

It’s worth noting that Jones doesn’t list many activities for us to use willy-nilly. But first, she helps us understand the science of how we learn and how that knowledge can change the way we teach.

Her passion leaps off the page, and her enthusiasm is highly contagious. Get ready to catch it! Your lessons will never be the same again.

A Novel Approach: Whole-Class Novels, Student-Centered Teaching, and Choice by Kate Roberts

Teaching whole-class novels come with its fair share of controversy. While some teachers love it, others view it as a teacher-directed approach that ignores the wants and needs of students. Roberts believes you can have it both ways: challenge students with a complex text AND nurture passionate readers.

In A Novel Approach, Roberts looks at the pros and cons of teaching whole-class novels. She also offers a practical framework for teaching reading with a student-centered approach. She stresses the importance of teaching ‘skills’ over ‘books’ and creating lessons that benefit every student.

This is one of the best educational books for teachers who want to turn their students into influential independent readers.

180 Days: Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents by Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle

Did you know that teachers make approximately 1,500 decisions a day? More – probably. Cue the question that every teacher has been asked at some point in their careers: How do you fit it all in? When Gallaher and Kittle were asked this question, they decided to find the answer.

Firstly, they worked together to identify ‘what matters most.’ They then mapped out 180 days of teaching, where they made this a priority. As a result, 180 Days is a great educational book for teachers of any subject and year level. Thought-provoking and inspiring, this book will send you on a mission to make every school year better than the last.

Behavior Management

When the Adults Change Everything Changes by Paul Dix

Rules, expectations, strategies Paul Dix has heard it all. But in this book, he implores you to trade your behavior management toolbox for something else: kindness, patience, and connection.

That sounds great. But how do we create these beautiful classrooms filled with respect? Dix believes the answer lies in making the right culture in your classroom. We need a revolution in behavior, and to get there, the adults (that’s us) must be the ones to change. This will mean being consistent in our consistency and finally admitting that students aren’t the only ones who need to work on their behavior.

This gem of a book is written with wry humor to keep a smile on your face and some very worthwhile lessons to keep in mind.

Behavior Management Pocketbook by Peter Hook and Andy Vass

Ever wished you could reach into your pocket and pull out the perfect behavior management strategy? Well, this little book will allow you to do just that.

Fitting nicely in your pocket, this handy book is full of straightforward advice for teachers on the go. With an emphasis on mutual respect, the tips in this book are practical and easy to understand. It’s also organized so you can quickly flick through it in a (non-emergent) behavioral emergency. Perfect for reading as a refresher over the holidays and keeping on hand when you return to school.

Take Control of the Noisy Class by Rob Plevin 

Standing in front of a noisy class, trying (and failing) to get their attention, is a position every teacher can relate to. Plevin was no different. But through trial and error, talking to colleagues and (more importantly) students, he’s pulled together these usable techniques that any teacher can use to take control of a classroom.

This book is a carefully crafted roadmap to classroom management. In it, Plevin talks us through step-by-step routine teachers can use with their noisiest classes. His approach is essential to make students feel valued and empowered, so they don’t need to act out. He also believes in bringing fun to them so they don’t make their own.

This book on behavior management is a great way to make things easier for yourself. Put an end to the daily struggles and confrontations with challenging students. Learn to be responsive, not reactive.

Brush Up Your Communication Skills

Talk to Me: Find the Right Words to Inspire, Encourage and Get Things Done By Kim Bearden

Disgruntled parents. Moody colleagues. Cold bosses. We’ve all had interactions with people that aren’t so pleasant.

However, this beautifully written book on communication offers us a new perspective. Using examples from her experiences in education, Bearden teaches us how to talk our way toward positive outcomes. Her approach is broken down into six learnable steps, which she walks us through with great care. She stresses the importance of listening with empathy and pure intentions throughout Talk to Me. She then illustrates these ideas with touching anecdotes, emphasizing that there’s more to people than meets the eye.

Whether you’re a teacher, headteacher, parent, student, or any other human, this book will make you a better talker and listener.

As well as being a teacher, Bearden is a co-founder and executive director of the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta. This school has a fantastic story. Take a minute to listen to it if you feel like a bit of inspiration.

Fewer Things, Better: The Courage to Focus on What Matters Most by Angela Watson

Teaching is no easy job. If you’re a teacher, know a teacher, or are training to be a teacher – this probably isn’t news to you. Watson gets it. She will not tell you to manage your time better, use productivity hacks or spread yourself thinner. Instead, she’ll help you find clarity, so you can figure out what matters most and do fewer things better.

This book will revolutionize how you think about spending your time and help you find a healthy work/life balance. Stop yourself from wasting time on the things that aren’t important, and learn to invest it in what is. One of the best educational books out there!

You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why it Matters by Kate Murphy

Speaking of listening! This isn’t specifically a book for teachers, but it may as well be. With humor, Murphy draws on her personal experiences as a journalist to teach us how to listen.

In an age of social media, where we often sneak glances at our smartphones during conversations, this book gives us a much-needed wake-up call. It’s time to start paying attention, tucking our phones into our pockets, and rediscovering our ability to connect.

Listening is essential not only in the classroom but in life. Pick up some tips for listening again and hearing stories from some of the world’s best listeners. This book will inspire you to pay closer attention to your colleagues, students, and friends and become happier.

Permission to Feel by Marc Brackett

How are you feeling? It’s a question often batted around by strangers, polite acquaintances, and close friends. But how often is the asker expecting an honest answer? How often are we permitted to feel?

Brackett doesn’t think it’s often enough. Looking closely at how kids feel in schools, he believes patterns need to be broken. This book calls for education to be remade so that emotion skills can become a priority. The bottom line is this: students need to understand better and express themselves. This means focusing on emotional literacy. If we do this right, professional interventions will no longer be necessary!

In Permission to Feel, Brackett has created a plan for educators to use with a handy acronym: RULER. This will help you break old patterns and embrace emotional well-being in the classroom. It’s a prescription you’ll want to pick up.

Cognitive Psychology and What Makes Us Tick

Why Don’t Students Like School? by Daniel T. Willingham

Yes, it’s a question teachers have been wrestling with since the beginning. Why don’t students like school? In this book, Willingham, a cognitive scientist, tackles it head-on. Literally. And by that, I mean he talks about brains.

Think about thinking in a way you’ve never thought of before. Understand your students better and get an insight into how their minds work. This book boils cognitive science down into nine principles you can use in the classroom. Accessible and demystifying. Find out what our brains like and don’t and how to keep them happy. A solid addition to your CPD shelf.

Powerful Teaching: Unleash the Science of Learning by Patrice M. Bain and Pooja K. Agarwal

Leaps and bounds are being made in learning science, so it only makes sense for teachers to know more about it. Imagine having a practical go-to manual on how to apply cognitive science in the classroom. Well, here it is!

Powerful Teaching is the much-needed bridge between cognitive science and classroom practice. A treasure trove of insight – this book gives teachers ‘Power Tools’ for optimizing learning in all subjects and year levels. From day one, you’ll practice these tips and set your students up for success. Teach so it sticks, and add this book to your educational reading list for the summer. You won’t regret it.

Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel

Make it Stick is a popular book in educational reading circles, which lives up to the hype.

Written by two cognitive scientists and one storyteller, this book is an evident and evidence-based teacher guide. They’ve built it from three main ideas: learning requires memory, we must continue to learn throughout our lives, and learning’s an acquired skill.

Delve deep into the science of learning and pick up strategies to tailor the best educational experiences possible. Who doesn’t want that? This book is for anyone who wants to learn HOW to learn.

Understanding How We Learn: A Visual Guide by Yana Weinstein, Megan Sumeracki, and Oliver Caviglioli

Teachers these days rely primarily on their intuition in the classroom. However, science continues to show us that this isn’t always the most effective strategy. Until recent years, the evidence-based strategies discussed in academic circles haven’t made it to the classroom. Instead, teachers have been teaching themselves, learning from anecdotes and personal experiences.

In this guide for teachers, Weinstein and Sumeracki team up to make science accessible for those who need it: teachers and students. They collaborate with Caviglioli, who has created images, charts, and diagrams to illustrate these ideas visually.

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