What teaching books are you reading?
Throughout the pandemic, here are 9 education books I’ve been dipping in and out of to keep my teacher-mojo alight; in no particular order.
I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading lately, discovering new books and returning to sold old titles I’ve had on my desk for some time. Here’s a blog for those who love to read books about teaching!
1. Stop talking start influencing
Given the recent interest with working memory and cognitive load, author Jared Cooney Horvath provides lots and lots of examples about how we learn what we can do about it. This is hard for teachers to find in and amongst all the research being published.
Inside the book, Horvath writes: “Without a deeper understanding of how people learn and remember, we blindly follow instructions with no clear sense of why they work or fail.”
It is quite an easy and engaging read!
2. The BASIC coaching method
Self published by former head teacher, Andy Buck of Leadership Matters, this small guidebook helps teachers and school leaders work through a method Andy has developed in his years of working within education.
The book takes readers through a coaching background towards developing a strategy, then onto implementation and developing coaching qualities, habits and feedback strategies.
There are lots of questions, templates and spaces for self reflection.
It’s a book which has definitely added to my own coaching experiences and work.
3. The Future of Teaching
Written by cognitive scientist, Prof Guy Claxton, this book holds back no punches at all.
From observations on social media, I can already see how Claxton’s critique of other teachers (who have been on their own (unqualified) cognitive science journey like me) has already divided the profession. It’s one way to guarantee lots of book sales, that’s for sure!
I’ve still to reach the end of this book, but it is becoming clear that the author wishes to offer a little nuance. However, by doing so, he has identified several individuals, critiquing their views and their work which forces the reader to think carefully about why. No bad thing I suppose.
My evaluation so far is that Claxton has an issue with policymaking using cognitive science to diktat a particular style of teaching. On that note, I guess I’m one of many waiting to learn how cognitive load theory manifests itself in an early years setting. I wonder if Claxton knows…
4. How Learning Happens
I have to say, I have found this book fantastic and it has heavily influenced my thinking in my own discovery of research.
The book is cleverly laid out with ‘why people should’ read the selected article, a good exploration of the themes, important takeaways and reference. There are QR codes to further reading, with each chapter easily read in isolation to others. This makes this book very usable for busy classroom teachers.
It gets a thumbs up from me.
5. Classroom Observation 2.0
Written by Prof Matt O’Leary, this book is for anyone serious about the role of lesson observation.
Considering we are only under a decade from the point where teachers were heavily graded and one-off observations, and despite approximately 30% of schools still pushing this poor practice, O’Leary offers a wide range of research and practical techniques for teachers working at any level in any educational organisation.
I’ve been teaching for 25 years, observing other teachers from the third year of qualification. After many many trials and tribulations, I’ve only recently discovered a research informed strategy which does make a difference to the teacher, and draws upon reliable evaluation methods.
If it takes somebody like me this long, someone who is very passionate about teaching and learning, research and reliable observation methods, what hope is there for everyone else who isn’t or is unaware of better observation methods? Learning walks are for Room 101!
This is an important book.
6. Connect the Dots
This has been one of my favourite books since it was published by Tricia Taylor in 2019.
It has rekindled my interest in cognitive science, working memory and graphic organisers. I particularly like how the book is divided into memory, mindsets and relationships and Taylor sets out her story in the introduction, explaining why they all interconnect.
If you ‘put me in a corner’ and asked, ‘Which book in this blog post is your favourite?’ It would be this one!
Why? Because it has influenced my thinking, and has changed my practice…
7. Retrieval Practice
It has been wonderful to see history teacher, Kate Jones, share her research journey and publish a number of books.
This book is without question, her most popular.
Although I would consider myself to be very up-to-date with the research on retrieval practice and what teachers can do in the classroom, I was thankful enough when Kate posted me a copy to me earlier this year.
Reading Kate’s book reminded me of the importance of sharing with one another, no matter how experienced or inexperienced we are, we can all learn from one another. My key takeaway from this book is how hard Kate has worked to bring it all together: a practical guide for teachers.
The most powerful image for me in the entire book is the graphic the Kate shares on page 25. You’ll just need to get a copy of the book to find out what is!
8. Teaching Walkthrus
Published by two very close colleagues, this book has really shaped countless teachers and schools since publication – despite a global pandemic, it has remained ridiculously popular.
What makes it so successful? Well, that’s easy.
Important educational research + graphic representations = bite-size reads.
Of course there is more to it than that! Inside the book, there is great discussion, as well as a fabulous stack of resources that are provided to teachers and schools.
Although I recognise much of the research, it is still a book that I dip in and out of if I need a quick, pragmatic reminder.
9. Powerful Teaching
Another popular book, a hardback copy this time which always feels special!
Published in 2019, I really enjoyed reading this book and it’s one that I keep coming back to time and time again. There are a great range of resources, as well as a large body of evidence and research shared throughout the book.
I was fortunate enough to interview both authors for my podcast. Listen to what Dr Pooja Agarwal and Dr Patrice Bain both have to say about their research. Prior to the pandemic, we had plans to come together for CPD events in the UK, but that as we all know was put on hold!
What teaching books have made a difference to you over the last 18 months?
Reading educational books provide teachers with additional professional learning beyond the classroom. Something every professional should embrace…