Review by Expert Contributor

16 Dec 2018, 5:00


Books to buy teachers for Christmas

For policy nerds

Natural born learners
By Alex Beard
Publisher: Orion

Natural Born Learners is not dissimilar, in scope or ambition, to Lucy Crehan’s Cleverlands. But while Crehan’s focus is school system design, Beard travels the globe visiting cognitive scientists, tech companies and schools to investigate the science of learning.

The tone is of unbridled optimism – mostly about the potential of science to revolutionise education – with plenty of real-world examples to mull over.

For classroom teachers

Understanding how we learn: A visual guide
By Yana Weinstein and Megan Sumeracki, with Oliver Caviglioli
Publisher: Routledge

This beautifully illustrated book is an accessible, fascinating journey through research methods, findings and application, designed to facilitate communication between researchers, teachers and students.

One gets the sense that if every teacher in the country could apply these findings (and there’s nothing so complicated that this couldn’t be done), the benefits to student learning could be enormous.

For anyone nurturing teachers

Unleashing great teaching: The secrets to the most effective teacher development
By David Weston and Bridget Clay
Publisher: Routledge

An optimistic book on professional development that suggests that with access to the right resources, expertise and school leadership, the profession has bags of potential to move itself forward.

It’s full of “do and don’t” checklists for all levels, and helpful case studies of what excellent professional development looks like (and doesn’t look like!).

 For social justice warriors

The working class: Poverty, education and alternative voices
By Ian Gilbert
Publisher: Crown House

A collection of essays from different authors, The Working Class offers a new way of thinking, challenging educational stereotypes linked to “disadvantage” – such as the idea that being from a deprived background automatically labels you as a drain on society.

They form a powerful moral argument for why teachers should go above and beyond for children from challenging backgrounds.

For school leaders

How to transform your school into an LGBT+ friendly place
By Dr Elly Barnes and Dr Anna Carlile
Publisher: Jessica Kingsley

Elly Barnes, a former teacher and now chief executive of Educate & Celebrate – an LGBT+ education charity praised by the Department for Education and Ofsted – has collaborated with Anna Carlile, a university lecturer, to write a practical toolkit for schools. It’s an accessible read that explores and explains the relevant policies, curriculum content and LGBT+ networks that are available.

For maths teachers

How I Wish I’d Taught Maths
By Craig Barton
Publisher: John Catt

A thorough guide to maths teaching that one would expect from the creator of the hugely popular Mr Barton’s Maths podcasts. And in true Mr Barton style, if you only take away three things:

1. This book is essential reading for maths teachers at any career stage.
2. This book is broken down into very practical and useable sections.
3. This book is so readable that it continues to answer your own questions as they inevitably arise.

For the rebels (and rebel leaders!)

Flip the System UK: A Teacher’s Manifesto
Edited by Jean-Louis Dutaut and Lucy Rycroft-Smith
Publisher: Routledge

An exciting book that brings together a wide range of people all calling for teachers to take control of education.

While this book will inform and empower classroom teachers, it might be school leaders and policymakers who most need to read it – as they are probably best placed to do what it calls for!

For teachers thinking of giving up

How to Survive in Teaching: Without imploding, exploding or walking away
By Dr Emma Kell
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Written by a long-time teacher and current middle leader, How to Survive in Teaching describes itself as “a celebration and a call to action”.

Its premise is that while the profession may be in crisis, there are some practical steps teachers, leaders and policymakers can take to stem the tide of staff imploding, exploding and leaving the profession in their droves.



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