📚 17 Teaching Books for the Year Ahead

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17 Teaching Books for the Summer


Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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What if you wanted to read a book about teaching over the next year, what would it be?

The growth of education books published over the last few years has been astronomical; publishers churning out new titles, with more teachers writing and academics making research more accessible …

Having published books and develop this website for over a decade, part of the micro-celebrity/influencer aspects of being a teacher-blogger, means that publishers and PR companies circulate press stories and publishers automatically post you copies of new books. Some are relevant to teaching, others not so much.

For those interested in what is currently on my desk, here is a stack of some of the latest publications I have on my desk.

I wish I had more time to read them all and write detailed reviews, but it is impossible with my current capacity. Nonetheless, I keep one or two on my table, flick through some others, give one or two away in competitions, or drop them off in schools on my teacher training travels.

About Our Schools

This book would make a fabulous door wedge, it’s a beast of a book, but it’s also a fantastic document written by two education giants.

Professor Mick Waters and Sir Tim Brighouse bring together interviews with 14 secretaries of state.

Read this, and your education knowledge will be at the cutting edge of everything and anything happening across the education UK.

It’s a book worthy of every university library across the country.


Memory in the Classroom

This key book inspired me on my journey with memory, recently published in my new book.

In this title, published in 2014, long before Ofsted, you or I discussed working memory, the authors put together a useful overview of key concepts, with many strategies and an enormous body of research/references.

If only all teachers could be taught ‘how learning happens’ before they entered the classroom, we would all be richer by the experience.

You may be interested in my contribution.


Primary Huh

I have known John Tomsett and Mary Myatt for almost a decade.

They are completing important work on curriculum, and this book is just one in a series of titles unpicking some of the amazing curriculum work taking place in many of our schools.

Recently, I heard them both explain their thoughts and insights at Northern Rocks (2022). My favourite chapter (obviously) in Design and Technology – a conversation with Kate Taylor, assistant head teacher at a primary school in Birmingham.

Typically, DT is quite limited at primary, with non-specialists appointed. In this chapter, Taylor explains how they embed a spiral curriculum plan from early years to year 6, providing six to eight hours of teaching each term.


The Teacher Journal

A new book by Naomi Barker.

The most effective teachers are reflective, so holding a book in your hands with lots of blank spaces to answer questions is perfect.

The book is designed to suit the rhythm of school life, with chapters aligned to the academic terms of the year.

Chapters include ideas from classroom expectations to working patterns, relationships and safeguarding, to appraisal and feedback. There’s no untouched key aspect of school life, and this looks like a great book for all main-scale teachers.


Retrieval Practice: Primary

Another brilliant book by Kate Jones.

Jones has spent the last few years mastering her knowledge of retrieval practice, connecting with 100s of educators worldwide in podcasts, articles and books.

Her books are practical, current and very popular with teachers, and if you’ve not seen this one, you must have been hiding under a rock!

Buy it now!


How Teaching Happens

The first book by Carl Hendrick and Paul Kirchsner, How Learning Happens was a brilliant contribution to the teaching profession. It’s a book that’s been on my teacher desk since publication (2020).

In this new book, Jim Neal, an educator working in the US, joins Hendrick and Kirschner to examine what effective teaching looks like.

I believe – even before reading the book – this will be another seminal text that influences many teacher hungry for research to inform their teaching practice.

This is my number one choice if you’re looking for something robust.



The Lean Education Manifesto

A new book by John Hattie and Aaran Hamilton

This is another accessible book for teachers hungry to learn more about academic research in various topics. The globalisation of education, ‘what works best’ and Hattie’s meta-x website – which I don’t think many people are aware of – is a new updated table of visible learning effect sizes.

School structure and school systems are also discussed, including accountability and teacher training. This is a great book for people conducting any academic research as part of their development as a teacher for NPQs, masters and doctoral degrees.

It’s another book for your desk, and I’m surprised it’s not yet had any Amazon reviews! I may have to be the first …



The Joy of Not Knowing

I was delighted when Marcelo offered to send me a copy of his book, The Joy of Not Knowing.

Published in December 2020, this is a beautifully presented book, in colour no less, with lovely drawings from pupils, interesting graphics and charts, and practical case studies and theories laid out in practical steps.

The author sets out how we can ensure our curriculum and all aspects of school life remain personal, meaningful and enjoyable, etched against an ever-increasing accountability system.

For teachers who want to understand how to develop teaching and learning culture, particularly in primary schools, the author’s research and experiences will provide you with a wide range of existing philosophies to help motivate you.



The Next Big Thing in School Improvement

I love anything written by Prof Becky Allen; The Teacher Gap and Becky’s blog are incredibly insightful and pithy.

Becky kindly posted a copy of this to me a few months ago, and I’ve been slowly working my way through various pages.

Published with headteacher, Matthew Evans and teacher, Ben White, they provide a huge range of sources and references, all very impressive considering the book is (relatively) short and easy to access.

Covering some huge education topics, ‘what works’ it’s probably my favourite chapter, tackling the recent explosion of education research. Other parts of the book discuss working memory, knowledge-rich curriculums, personalised learning, data collection, and great teaching hallmarks.

I just wish there was an index page to make it easier to thumb through. Besides this small detail, this is an important book for school and system leaders across England.


Diverse Educators

This could be one of the most important books recently published. Diversity, equality and inclusion should be a conversation on the lips of every educator across the country.

Editors Hannah Wilson and Bennie Kara Bring together over 500 pages of essential topics that will support people working in education across the United Kingdom. Topics range from disability, gender reassignment, marriage, pregnancy and maternity to race, religion and beliefs, sex, sexual orientation and Intersectionality.

It’s an incredible piece of work. It’s a huge piece of text and would make a brilliant door-stop, but what makes it so useful for your desk rather than as a door-wedge, is that each chapter is ‘easy to dip in and out of’, with bite-sized reads that are 5 (ish) pages each.

The accessibility of the book allows all educators to dip into such a wide range of important topics. There are a wide range of references, key questions and takeaways that will leave even the most experienced educator with something to learn! Get your copy now.


Representation Matters

Another important book for teachers.

Becoming an anti-racist educator helps teachers begin a journey with self-reflection, reviewing current practices, and helping everyone start conversations about race and racism.

Published by Aisha Thomas, the book is neatly laid out, tackling issues about language, diversity, microaggressions, equality, lived experiences, white privilege and role models.

There’s so much more in this book, and if you’re a white male man like me, then this is a book that you need to read.


I Can’t Do Maths

I have to be honest here, this is a book where I fell into the trap and the stereotype of lacking confidence in mathematics.  Even the book title scared me!

However, published in May 2022, authors Prof Alf Coles and Prof Nathalie Sinclair do an excellent job for experience teachers like me, exploring five common myths and why these inhibit learners.

We all know that every teacher is a teacher of literacy, regardless of which subjects we teach; this is precisely the same for numeracy.

We should all be doing our bit to improve on maths knowledge, preconceptions and misconceptions about how we can be better at promoting numeracy in all aspects of our work and our personal lives.



An Ethic of Excellence

A new book written by headteacher Sonia Thompson, part of a series of books unpicking education research into practical tips for teachers.

All teachers can find original pieces of research, but very few do, or go out of their way to translate the theory into a meaningful document for busy classroom teachers.

Thompson has achieved this.

Ron Berger’s ethic of excellence – best summed up in Auston’s Butterfly – is explored further and highlights why culture is a powerful ethic for whole-school ethos. Thompson explores evidence-informed practice in this bitesize guide from governors to curriculum to teaching and learning habits.

This book is a perfect example of how research informs teacher decisions, how they translate around you, with recommendations regarding how to apply them into your own school context.



Future Proof

Another book I have on my desk is a book about digital citizenship, an essential topic for all teachers, exploring online safety, security, cyberbullying and digital threats to well-being.

Education technology rapidly changes, and schools are often left behind with outdated hardware and/or endless software promising transformational outcomes.

I wouldn’t say this is a practical book. Still, it is a book grounded in experience, summarising the important topics in education, including today’s digital space. The book does offer many questions and references.

With technology evolving rapidly, schools will always have to battle managing and protecting our young people who are new to digital technology, in and out of school. This book will change your thinking and offer you much for consideration.




I have rarely visited a school and then seen it recorded in a book. It is beautifully presented and written by a teacher full of passion and energy!

If you don’t know much about Parklands, it is a primary school in Leeds, in the North of England. It’s a large primary school, supporting pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, more than twice the national average.

I’ve had the privilege of working alongside the teachers in some of their INSET days, and I have slowly learned more about the work – and endless ideas – from headteacher, Chris Dyson.

You only need to tune into his Twitter account and see all the incredible celebrations shared in his Friday assemblies to see what a wonderful place it truly is.



Fast Feedback

Published in April 2022, this is another important contribution by a school explaining how they have abandoned written marking.

This book should be music to all teachers of ears!

If you are a school leader reading this, I suspect this book needs to be on your reading list immediately, one of our key roles is to reduce teacher workload, and on my travels, I have discovered that all teachers suffer from the marking burden.

It is in our interest that we do our best to reduce this, and using school case studies such as this, will help signpost ways to implement some of the ideas into your own setting.



Tools for Teachers

A book published in April 2022 starts with some fundamentals for all teachers, particularly new to the profession, unpicking how to provide explicit instruction, manage behaviour and motivate our young people in classrooms.

The rest of the book covers relationships, curriculum and leadership. There is a good range of graphics, tables and narratives, for example, teacher and student discussions outlined to help understand how ideas can be translated into the classroom.

The author provides a comprehensive overview of his work in education, including his popular podcast, ERRR, Education, Research, Reading, Room.


I’ve got two or three more books on my desk, but I think that’s enough for starters.

Having published 10 books, they don’t make £ millions. Still, they are a great opportunity to put all your ideas in one place and help others access teaching ideas – understand them in greater substance – and apply the ideas to enrich practice.

There is an enormous collection of education books being published right now, and that can only be a good thing for the profession.

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