There are over half a million books out there claiming to tell how to teach more effectively and improve student results. However, many of them aren’t worth reading at all and those that are, often rehash well-known ideas.
Yet, amidst this sea of misinformation and mediocrity, these three gems stand out.
- They are based on research rather than on someone’s ‘theory’ of what works.
- They challenge you to think beyond deeply entrenched views of teaching.
They may not all be the easiest reads, but they are well worth the effort. You may have read one or two already, but it’s worth reading all three.
Must-Read 1: Mindset by Carol Dweck
Some people attribute success and failure to effort or lack thereof. They hold what Dweck calls a growth mindset. Other people attribute success and failure to innate abilities (or lack thereof). They hold what Dweck calls a fixed mindset.
While in reality, success is normally a combination of effort + ability, research shows that:
- Students with a growth mindset outperform students (of similar ability) with a fixed mindset
- Teachers with a growth mindset help students get better results than teachers with a fixed mindset
Furthermore, the seemingly innocent comments you make as a teacher (or parent, or principal, etc.) can either reinforce a fixed mindset or nurture a growth mindset.
This book is an essential read for parents, teachers, coaches, and others who are instrumental in determining a child’s mind-set, and in turn, his or her future success.
If you haven’t read it yet, get your copy of Mindset today. If you have read it, buy a copy for your boss, for a friend or even for your prac student.
Must-Read 2: Visible Learning by John Hattie
Visible Learning is perhaps of the single most significant book ever published on education. If you haven’t read this book, you are doing your students a great disservice.
There are actually several books in the series, but the must read is Visible Learning: A Synthesis Over 800 Meta-Analyses On Student Achievement.
The book is a review of research, so it is not a light read – but it isn’t hard to understand. It compares the relative effect of 138 different factors have on students’ achievement. These factors include everything from various teaching strategies (e.g. inquiry learning, reciprocal teaching, phonics) to things such as class size, socio-economic status and moving from school-to-school.
Some of the findings will confirm what you already believe, while others will shock you.
There is a reason that many educators refer to Hattie’s book as their Bible.
The book shows you whatthings have the largest impact on student achievement. It doesn’t always give details on howto do those things – which is one reason I started this site.
I strongly recommend that you read Visible Learning: A Synthesis Over 800 Meta-Analyses On Student Achievement before anything else. Yet, if you have already read it – other related books include:
- Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximising Impact On Learning
- International Guide To Student Achievement
- Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn
Must Read 3: Constructivist Instruction: Success Or Failure
by Sigmund Tobias & Thomas Duffy (Eds.)
If you have already read John Hattie’s work, you would know that neither camp has a monopoly on wisdom about good teaching. Rather, there are faults and nuggets of insight on both sides.
This book takes a balanced and evidence-based look at constructivism, a philosophy that has been blindly accepted by the majority of educators.
Given the degree to which constructivism underpins so much of what goes on in modern classrooms, it would be remiss of any experienced educator not to know the facts.
That’s why I’ve listed Constructivist Instruction: Success Or Failure as my final must read.