The Best Books About Teaching

When faced with problems my go-to position is to find a book on the issue and read it.  In teaching I have faced a lot of problems and read a lot of books.  Whenever PGCE students come to me in tears there is usually a book waiting.  Here is a list of my favourites:

Teaching Outside the Box – LouAnn Johnson:  I still try to read this at least once a year.  The first half-term as a TeachFirster is an emotional rollercoaster and I spent most of October convinced I would spend the next two years as a mediocre teacher taking abuse from children and ruining their lives.  This book knocked some sense into me through its humour, practical ideas, cleverly crafted inspirational stories and just a down-right telling-to that you will be fine if you just work at becoming a better teacher every single day.  This book is now battered and worn as I have photocopied so many pages for people and read it on so many holidays.  Without LouAnn I sometimes wonder if I’d have survived that first year at all.

Fred Jones Tools for Teaching Fred Jones: Packed resource full of tips on behaviour, learning, classroom management: you name it, it’s here. There are colourful illustrations, there is amusing text, there is even a DVD so you can *see* how to implement ideas. Jones is like a massive brick of help that you can turn to whenever things are going really wrong but no-one in your school seems to be helping, particularly with behaviour.

Teacher’s Toolkit
– Paul Ginnis: It’s practically the law to own this book if you are a teacher. Always have it to hand when planning. There are parts on learning activities, behaviour, classroom organisation. It’s fantastic. Looks expensive compared to other books but like a coat that you wear for a decade you will definitely get your monies worth on this one.

Cracking the Hard Class: Strategies for Managing the Harder Than Average Class – Bill Rogers:  In the first year of teaching NQTs/PGCEs are always most tired out because the burden of managing behaviour is emotionally and physically difficult.  This book helps them remember that being in charge of 30 teenage minds 6 hours a day is challenging and requires skill. Rogers gives needed insight into the students’ minds and gives specific things you can do to harness their energies.  He’s a no-nonsense kind of writer, and he’s funny which is always a bonus.

Updated December 2017

I’ve taken some books off that have dated badly and here’s a newer one that I liked a lot recently….

When The Adults Change, Everything Changes: Seismic Shifts In Behaviour – Paul Dix: This book is subtle and brilliant. It goes over the tiny, strange things that children do and gets you to see them in new light. For example, why is that one teacher can raise an eyebrow and stop a crowd while you can’t? It’s not that your eyebrow isn’t adequately arched, it’s about the certainty of the signal and its consequences. These, and endless other ideas, add up to a brilliant way to take your behaviour skills to the next level.


4 thoughts on “The Best Books About Teaching

    1. I have both Teach Like A Champion (Lemov) and Teaching As Leadership (Farr), though both came out after my teachfirst experience so they weren’t the ones I turned to in desperation. Sometimes I find Lemov’s book too American – some of the things he suggests are just ‘too much’ for British people I think (e.g. some of the call and response stuff), so unless you’re super charismatic it is quite hard to pull off. The TAL framework, however, I *love* because it gives gradients – i.e. moving from novice to expert – so you can see how to *improve*. One of the problems of most teaching books is that they only give you tips and suggest that if you ‘do this’ it will work, where – in fact – you have to build up to do doing things really well. Unfortunately I found the TAL book itself a bit cumbersome – however the framework alone is brilliant.

      Willingham I came to after I’d already studied psychology at university and taught it for a while, so it was interesting but not that ‘new’. I have wrote about it beforee here though and do think it’s an interesting read. In a similar vein, but with some challenges to Willingham’s thinking, I would recommend Ellen Langer’s excellent book The Power of Mindful Learning .

      As you find more and more books keep putting them on your site. There’s some real gems out there and it’s hard to keep track of them all so very happy to have someone else who is sifting through them too.

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