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Specialist books aimed at teachers and other professionals in education.
Making the education system work for you and your pupils | The success of this book lies in the title. It is both readable and relatable. It is a book suitable for all teachers in all sectors and in all stages of their career. For the NQT it offers advice and guidance in a very practical approach and for the more experienced teacher, who may well have had similar thoughts or used some of Akbars suggestions and ideas in their own approach, it offers recognition and is an assuring affirmation. It is really refreshing to be offered realistic solutions. So many teachers’ manuals are packed with idealistic ideas, that sadly do not work in the real world. Some of his ideas are simple and might seem obvious, but as with most things, one often misses the obvious. For example… • ’don’t assume, teach from scratch’. • Remember the importance of ‘grit’ for a child. Give them the chance to achieve independently, before wading in. • There are certain rules not to break, such as the school’s rules on planning, grading and recording. • In a time of inspection… ‘get your shit ready. It is only two days; they’ll be gone soon!’ It was lovely too that the author, being a teacher himself, demonstrated a real understanding and acknowledgement of worth. I liked his reference to ‘teachers and civilians’. He also talked about how teachers are ’remembered’ many years later by their pupils and it is the teachers own inspiration and passion that are the cause of this. This book is like a paperback comfort blanket, offering advice, reaffirming belief and understanding, in what is both a rewarding but often stressful profession.
The behaviour management survival guide for new teachers | I love the title, it really sets the scene, as so many of us were given the advice, that as new teachers, we should not smile till Christmas to show a tough and professional approach and a complete lack of familiarity with our pupils. As the author points out in the closing chapter, we should smile, as we have chosen the profession and we are working with rewarding, uplifting, humorous children, and young adults. This book is written with great honesty and understanding, and without patronising, it manages to read in a supportive and helpful way. The writer demonstrates a great empathy with new teachers and understands the difficulties faced in those first few years when you don’t have experiences to fall back on. I like the way she stresses that if a teacher does give up it is not a whim, but a ‘soul searching decision’ to quit. It is also interesting that she talks about the importance of finding the right school for the teacher. A lot is written about the right school for a pupil, but she also speaks of teachers leaving the profession, not because they cannot do their job, but because the school, its principles and ethos are not right for them. It is packed with lots of amusing and relatable anecdotes from an array of NQTs including some from the author. The book is divided into chapters dealing with the various elements of behavioural management, including relevant examples, tips on how to manage such problems as embarrassment or losing control of a lesson, and a section called ‘reflective space’ with room to record your own scenarios and experiences. All this information is so helpful to any teacher, not just new ones; teaching us the importance of being able to laugh at yourself and just as the children do, to learn from our mistakes. A refreshing and helpful guide book for all teachers.
An easy-to-follow guide that breaks down the requirements of the National Curriculum and provides a planning overview for teaching, combining grammar, spelling, punctuation and writing into one book. It includes annotated high-quality model texts, to show teachers the benchmark for expectations in each year group and presents up-to-date content that reflects the new framework for writing. A companion book for Key Stage 2 is also available.
An easy-to-follow guide that breaks down the requirements of the National Curriculum and provides a planning overview for teaching, combining grammar, spelling, punctuation and writing into one book. Including annotated high-quality model texts, to show teachers the benchmark for expectations in each year group and presents up-to-date content that reflects the new framework for writing. A companion book for Key Stage 1 is also available.
What It Takes To Make the Next Generation | I was not too sure what to expect when picking up this book but having read the introduction and hearing the author speak on Woman’s Hour Radio 4, I was keen to start. It is an incredibly readable book. Not what I was expecting, a book to inspire teachers, but a book packed with the most fascinating, and often quite harrowing stories of her pupils at Alperton Community School. She talks about the children in such an insightful way, telling the reader not just about their time in the classroom, but about their background and their families and the huge impact this has on their abilities and successes in school. The difficulties and challenges some of her pupils’ face are both memorable and moving. She conveys to the reader so clearly the effect that lack of language, cultural differences, cramped conditions and poverty can have on a child’s ability to learn. She looks at the whole person, beyond the bluff and bravado to the real child beneath. Her empathy with her pupils and the obvious passion for her subject really do shine through. I liked her honesty. She believes that she is ‘almost an imposter’ and there are far more worthy winners of the Global Teachers Prize, but reading the many examples she writes about, I feel she is underselling herself. She intersperses her account with insights into her own life, her upbringing and her adult life with her family. The book teaches us all valuable life lessons: Never judging a child on first impression and the importance of mutual respect are two themes that run throughout the book. I thought initially, it was a book for teachers, but this is a book for anyone. I think on reading it, we will all wish that we had had a teacher such as her when we were at school.
April 2021 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | Designed to support the KS2 National Curriculum, this rich resource will help young writers get to grips with grammar in clear and meaningful ways that will enhance their writing. It’s also a handy time-saver for teachers, providing as it does excellent examples that demonstrate grammar in action. The book really stands out for the author’s ability to explain tricky-to-grasp points of grammar through the lens of their purpose. Let’s take fronted adverbials as an example. After explaining what they are (words “used for beginning sentences by focussing on location, time, frequency, manner or the degree in which something is happening”), he provides a handy list of examples (nearby, here, in the woods, later, eventually, sadly, full of joy, close to tears) in the context of why they’re used: “for helping the reader visualise or sequence what is occurring.” Alongside lucid explanations of key terms, this golden grammar nugget also gleams with great tips on how to make sentences more exciting, with the “Awesome alternatives” chapter serving as a succinct thesaurus. The sections covering themes in more detail are sure to enhance students’ vocabulary on specific topics, from the seasons and school, to space and suspense, while the character chapter will be especially helpful for creative writing, with vocabulary lists for the likes of hair, skin, eyes and personal quirks. The layout is top-notch too, with key information clearly boxed, and lively illustrations peppered throughout - full marks for a concise toolkit that will boost writing skills. Kids interested in exploring their creativity through writing will find inspiration in Joanne Owen's new series, Get Creative.
Having really appreciated Tait’s book Teaching Rebooted which was an inspiring and well-resourced book, I was looking forward to another of his guides and I was not disappointed. The book is clearly written with short, punchy paragraphs, clear overviews, well paragraphed text, and a clever section at the end of each chapter for notes, reflections and further reading. (For just in case you do not get your first leadership role and need to remember a few key points for the next interview!) I love the practicality of this book. It is not all about theories and why you might be an inspiring leader, but how you might actually achieve it; The initial basics of getting the job, what to wear, how to plan your route and the first impressions you are likely to make. Each element of the process is clearly approached, from the hints to tackling the ‘in-tray task, to the likely people, both child and adult that you are likely to be questioned by on the day and, to acknowledge at interview, that the children’s comments and feedback will be a key factor in your success and to not underplay or patronise this important market. Once you have achieved your goal of achieving leadership, the book is equally well- sourced, with essential information, such as taking staff meetings, CPDs and the approach to duties and teaching. It also covers the less obvious elements of the job such as dealing with the wider community and the well- being and happiness of staff. There are clever little tips such as how to make quick wins that can increase confidence and respect from the staff, as he says, ‘it is important to get the staff on the bus.’ What I liked most was that it was a really good read, and even if you are not an aspiring leader, there are plenty of useful tips to take from his writing as to how to communicate, understand and empathise with people we work with. The only area I found not covered sufficiently, was how to step into leadership in an existing school, which is another minefield altogether and has its own different, and often difficult, challenges. Perhaps a little appendix on the next publication?
A new edition of the bestseller by Teacher Toolkit | This really is what it says on the cover, a teacher’s tool kit. A very professionally researched and well delivered handbook. It reads a little like a good INSET lecture, focusing on various aspects of a teacher’s job and the importance of getting all elements right. It is written in a supportive and informative way and at no point is it patronising (unlike many inset lectures!) The various points are informatively written in concise chapters, with an ‘ideas snapshot’ at the start of each topic and useful references to further reading. The book included many memorable and helpful quotes, such as ‘marking should enhance the performance of the teacher as well as the student’ and to apply the Goldilocks principle, when marking, ‘not too much, not too little’ Remember that feedback should be ‘meaningful, manageable and motivating’ The introduction does suggest that this is a book one can dip in and out of. Personally, I think it is deserving of a complete read. I think once read, you could use various elements to refer to, but I think you would get a lot more from it, to initially read it from cover to cover. The accompanying Visual Guide is packed with great comments, but I found the actual visuals a little overwhelming and stark. Maybe it was the overuse of the colour red, which for me was a little too much in your face. Sadly, whilst we are all working and marking from home, much of the advice in not currently applicable. However, I shall be attempting to remember the great advice and creative ideas to use when we are back in the classroom.
This is the sort of book that should be included as compulsory reading for all trainee teachers, but it is also a great read for all those teachers who just need a gentle reminder or a tweak to well-worn practices. It is packed with helpful suggestions to improve both lesson structure but also the enjoyment of lessons, for adult and child, whether it be by outcome or the ability to access what is being delivered. All too often we think we are delivering our best, when, with a few adjustments, our lessons could become more inclusive and more accessible. The case studies running through the book are varied and frank,and in some cases, are quite heart rending. The individual cases are insightful and meaningful. The example given by the author of his aeroplane making in CDT is particularly memorable and poignant. Despite the many pointers and ideas, the book is written in such a way that it does not feel as if you are being preached at or criticised but merely…..‘Instead of this, try this’. Sometimes the tiniest tweaks could make a difference to a child. As teachers we often focus on the teaching and the learning outcome, forgetting in our enthusiasm or habit, that for a child sitting at the wrong sized desk, or with a fear of editing, or worrying about the upcoming PE lesson,or a misunderstanding of some basic instruction, this is not going to happen. The book is packed with practical and often simple suggestions that would make all the difference. The authors are obviously speaking with bags of experience, demonstrating great understanding and a huge amount of perception. I think the tips and ideas suggested in this book would benefit all our teaching practices wherever we are in our careers.
This was an excellent read with some interesting and reflective questions. It was clearly well researched, with many personal anecdotes and some perceptive poems. It was not a book that you could dip in and out of, but one that needed reading cover to cover, to take in the clear message the author was giving us. I think it would also be a good book for parents to read as the importance of home is stressed throughout. I am sure we have all heard much of the information before, that boys do not perform as well as girls and that their concentration times were different: that they matured at a different rate to girls and how adults’ expectations of boys are so different from birth. However, to have it all set out chapter by chapter, brought the points home! The chapters were set out clearly, with an overview, things to think about and how to act. However, I do feel that many of the issues of boys not responding and achieving, are issues equally applicable to girls. Many of the examples given, such as boys saying if they had a good teacher, who was fair, listened and was firm when required, inspired them to work. Both sexes are equally affected by the quality of the teacher. Quotes saying, ‘those who mess about get rewards for being good once, whereas consistent good behaviour is not rewarded’ Again, this applies just as much to girls as boys. I think as teachers, we need to be aware of the issues raised. As Gary Wilson noted, “it is interesting how anything specific and helpful to boys, would have a positive knock-on effect on girls."
A new approach to behaviour management | A book packed with sound advice and made more relevant because the writers are teachers and have put their advice into action. Evidence based practice is always the best. There are so many useful phrases and practical tips and quotes. Phrases like ‘never leave a child with no where to go, behaviourally or educationally’, or ‘a burnt-out teacher cannot foster positive relationships’ and the ‘importance of personal space’ are particularly memorable examples. The style is informal and chatty and clearly laid out. I like the key ‘learning point’ boxes at the end of each chapter and the interesting examples of successes had with previous pupils. On occasions however, the examples are a little too lengthy and a little too personal. Whilst not prudish in any way, I did not think the swear words added much to the narrative or the over personalisation of ‘Steve’ or ‘Mick’ in the chapter overviews. Whilst I respected the scientific research that had gone into the reasons behind why children behave as they do, I think it would be fair to say that most educators want solutions and answers. Not because they do not care or are not interested in the science, but because they just do not have the time. For me, the interesting chapters were those that provided solutions to situations and offered practical help to real life scenarios. There were certainly many useful, thought provoking messages and theories throughout the book that we can all learn from.
Action Jackson's guide to motivating learners | This book has a really, important basic message that happy children will learn and be successful. It is packed with useful tips, interesting, stories and anecdotes. However, I feel what lets it down from the start is the cover which to me, paints the wrong picture and conjures up a cartoon style of children’s book. I am sure the colour and font are designed to complement the word ‘happy’, but does this work? On a positive note, it is a very readable book, clearly laid out with some very helpful classroom tips. I particularly like the use of the acrostic technique of delivering messages, BIDMAS and READY on pages 113 and 117,being two great examples that would work as display material in the classroom. The messages he delivers is so important, ‘make education relevant’, ‘embrace negativity’ and ‘don’t limit your challenges’ being particularly good examples. It is important to inspire and encourage. However, the British as a nation can be quite reticent and conservative, and to an extent negative about themselves. I think chapters headed ‘you are amazing’ and ‘be in your zone of impact’ might be a little bit much for many staffrooms and deemed a little too ‘American’. I would say most of us would agree the sentiments and vision behind the book, we just need it delivered in a slightly less cliched and less patronising fashion.