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5 Books Every Teacher Should Read

Updated: May 19, 2019

Over the last few years, a range of books have been released espousing ideas to support teachers in being more effective in the classroom. Here are 5 that we think will help to make the biggest impact.

1. How To Teach English Literature: Overcoming Cultural Poverty' by Jennifer Webb

Although this may appear to be solely aimed at English Literature teachers, there are a plethora of ideas and teaching strategies in Jennifer Webb's debut book which can be adapted to suit teachers of English Language, Functional Skills or any subject for that matter.

Released in March of this year, Jenny draws on her extensive experience of teaching students of all age and ability ranges (from fee-paying schools to a 75%+ EAL cohorts) and crafts a thought-provoking page turner.

Having recently seen Jenny give a workshop at a regional conference, I can attest first hand that she is an expert in her field and has a range of ideas that will not only add engagement to any classroom, but will also cut workload and develop students knowledge and understanding and help them to produce work they can be proud of.

With discussion of cognitive load strategies, as well as highly engaging activities, differentiation methods and innovation galore, this book is a must.

2. Slow Teaching: On Finding Calm, Clarity and Impact in the Classroom' by Jamie Thom

A great book for the novice and the expert teacher alike, Jamie intertwines practical advice and tips with sound historical and innovative research to create a modern guide to finding peace in the classroom.

A 'must read' for all teachers who want to start winning the great 'work/ life balance' war and find greater job satisfaction whilst also working smarter, the book covers everything from creating a peaceful environment in the classroom, to behaviour management techniques which are simply applied and provide a calmer classroom.

Exhaustively researched, with every approach thoroughly evidenced, Jamie must surely have completed the reading for a PhD in the writing of this book, as well as juggling a TES podcast and regular ResearchEd workshops. He is currently working on a new book due out in late 2019.

You can catch Jamie's blog at and

3. 'Black Box Thinking: Marginal Gains and the Secrets of High Performance' by Matthew Syed

What links the Mercedes Formula One team with Google? What links Team Sky and the aviation industry? What connects James Dyson and David Beckham?They are all Black Box Thinkers

From best selling author Matthew Syed, this book is a fascinating study into what drives high performing individuals, and how these habits can be integrated into any area of performance (from teaching to neuroscience).

Told with a nuanced and personal tone, this book details how the brightest minds solved seemingly impossible problems which may well lead to your very own eureka moment through inspiring ideas which are very much outside of the (black) box.

It is also an appropriate book for teachers in that it celebrates the approach of 'failing' many times before enjoying success - a concept many students and teachers have shied away from in an age of data driven accountability.

4. Motivating Unwilling Learners in Further Education: The Key To Improving Behaviour' by Susan Wallace

In her role as Emeritus Professor of Education at Nottingham Trent University, Professor Susan Wallace gives practical ideas and solutions to some of the most pressing behavioural challenges in Post-16 education.

Drawing on a range of research, much of it her own, she is able to identify key themes in the behaviour of students in Post-16 Further Education. With this, she can then identify effective potential strategies for all practitioners to combat disengagement and negative behaviours.

Although primarily aimed at Post-16 practitioners, the strategies detailed within this book are so effective as to be used in any educational setting. Highly effective, yet simply enacted, these strategies will help in building better relationships with students and helping them to reach their potential.

As with the other books on this list, a 'must have' for the beginner and the expert alike.

5. 'Boys Don't Try? Rethinking Masculinity in Schools' by Matt Pinkett and Mark Roberts

Don't be thrown by the title - this book (and the strategies within it) will help to support and develop all pupils in all classrooms. Drawing on their own evidence as teachers and leaders, Matt Pinkett and Mark Roberts combine a wealth of experience to tackle one of the biggest issues in teaching.

Another book underpinned by evidenced based research, Pinkett and Roberts' book offers insight and an exploration into why boys do what they do as well what approaches are best to tackle everything from setting to closing the gap for disadvantaged learners to differentiation and beyond.

A fascinating book which will help teachers adapt their approach to ensure that all students, not just boys, fully engage in lessons and their own education. Additionally, with totally honesty from both writers, we are given great examples of what proper teacher reflection looks like.

Any books missed? Comment with your own suggestions!


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