Well Teacher Reading List

What does it mean to be a ‘well teacher?’ It may seem like a simple question – but I would argue it is absolutely essential to what happens in our schools. The worrying statistics about retention and the negativity that often surrounds our profession, hints that for many teachers this state of wellness has not been achieved. I have set up ‘The Well Teacher podcast’ to explore this question in much more detail.

This reading list aims to provide some further suggestions about all the areas that I will be interviewing people on in the show. To be well, happy, calm and thriving is hugely complex and dependent on so many factors. I hope that teachers might find some interesting reading and listening in this list to support them. Please get in touch with any suggestions you have and I will add them – I will be constantly updating this list.

‘The Well Teacher’ is available to listen on Apple iTunes here: 

Self-Control

Walter Mischel: ‘The Marshmallow Test.’ : This is really interesting on self-control, and how we can improve our own and others. The Marshmallow Test is now an iconic test that showed that relying gratification is critical in leading a fulfilling life. What the book demonstrates, however, is that self-control is something that we can teach, both in ourselves and others. “Self-control is crucial for the successful pursuit of long-term goals. It is equally essential for developing the self-restraint and empathy needed to build caring and mutually supportive relationships.”

‘Flow: The psychology of happiness’  by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. This is a really interesting read on how we can lose ourselves in areas of passion. Really helpful for considering how to help students concentrate and focus also: ““Contrary to what we usually believe, moments like these, the best moments in our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times—although such experiences can also be enjoyable, if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile”

Focus by Daniel Goleman. Have a slight obsession with Daniel Goleman, and this book is one of his best. How can we improve our ability to focus is a hugely valuable focus in our distraction centred society.

Deep Work by Cal Newport. Reading this book has had a massive impact on how I work, with so many practical strategies to help you maintain a better work life balance and be more productive.

Slowing Down

My first book ‘Slow Teaching: Finding calm, clarity and impact in the classroom’ looks at how we could all benefit from slowing down in our schools, and how we should really be spending our time in the classroom.

‘In Praise of Slow’ by Carl Honore. An indispensable introduction to the slow movement. His TED talk is nineteen minutes that will make you reflect on your relationship with time. Watching this initially made me reflect on the value of decelerating in the classroom and inspired this post on slowing pace in the classroom and marking slowly for impact.

‘The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down’ by Haemin Sunim. A beautiful book from a Buddhist monk which offers powerful reminders about the value of slowing down.

‘Busy’ by Tony Crabbe. Learning how to streamline, prioritise and slow down in a professional world that is all encompassing.

How We Think

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Fascinating read on why we behave in the way we do, what makes our minds race or procrastinate?

‘The Organised Mind’ by Daniel Levitin. How to organise in a world that cries out for immediacy. Essential reading for teachers who want to streamline their thinking.

Mind wise by Nicholas Epley. Interesting read on slowing down to reflect on how to understand our own and other individuals’ minds.

Happiness

Happiness: A guide to developing life’s most important skill by Matthieu Ricard This is a wonderful book that shows how we can develop happiness by focussing on the things that really matter. Matthieu Ricard was a French scientist who became a Buddhist monk. Love this book!

Daring Greatly by Brene BrownA really interesting and inspiring read, all about how being more vulnerable can transform your life.

‘Altruism: The Science and Psychology of Kindness’ by Matthieu Ricard This is a long but fascinating read, about how we can generate a more compassionate and giving society. It looks at how we can do this individually, and how we can make wider changes as a society.

The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt. This is a fascinating book, exploring wisdom passed down through the ages about what it really means to live a happy life.

Introversion

My second book ‘A Quiet Education’ explores how more introverted students and teachers can thrive. It also examines the importance of developing quieter skills in education.

‘Quiet’ by Susan Cain. In a world in which serenity, reflection and quiet qualities are often overlooked this is essential reading to cultivate the power of introversion.

Philosophy

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. The classic text in advocating increased self-awareness, reflection and living a considered life.

‘The Consolations of Philosophy’ by Alain De Bottom. This is a lovely book on what we can learn from ancient philosophers about life. The chapter on anxiety is particularly excellent!

Anxiety and Stress

Declutter your mind by Barrie Davenport. A range of approaches on how to overcome feelings of anxiety and stress, a very useful read.

The Upside of Stress: Why stress is good for you and how to get good at it’ by Kelly McGonical. A book on how to re-evaluate our relationship with stress. Her excellent TED talk is here

The Chimp Paradox: Really useful in helping to understand how anxiety can impact the brain, and what we can do to prevent it controlling our behaviours.

Lost Connections by Johann Hari. Why are so many people depressed and anxious? This excellent book explores these questions, and explores how people can recover.

Leadership

Seven Habits of Highly Effective people by Steven R Covey:  Brilliant book on leadership that is all about the qualities that make people effective. A refreshing focus on empathy and interpersonal skills.

‘Leadership Matters’ by Andy Buck. Superb book on all the aspects of leadership: interpersonal skills, principles, and how to thrive when things become difficult.

‘Wholesome Leadership’ by Tom Rees. This is a brilliant read on the three aspects of leadership: self, school and systems. So many experienced voices also contribute with case studies.

Radical Candourby Kim Scott. A great read on how to build teams, communicate effective and assertive leadership.

‘Emotional Intelligence’ by Daniel Goleman. Emotional intelligence is impossible if you are flying around on auto pilot. Vital reading for  cultivating self-awareness and social deftness.

The New Leaders by Daniel Goleman. One of the best books about leadership I have read: one that advocates relationships, emotional intelligence and listening as imperative leadership qualities.

Productive Working

Do Less, Get More by Shaa Wasmund. Guidance on how to say no and to develop organisational habits – an engaging and thought provoking book.

‘Essential’ by Joshua Fields Millburn. A book of essays that provides an introduction to the minimalist movement: a less is more philosophy that filters through life and into the classroom.

‘This is Essentialism’ by Greg McKeown. Fascinating read that explores how to make more effective and impactful decisions both at work and at home.

The Ten Minute Declutter by Barrie Davenport. A stress busting solution: ten minutes of sorting a day to lead to a simplified life.

Simplicity by Edward De Bono. Very interesting read on how to make the complicated as simple as we possibly can.

Ticked off: checklists for teachers, students, school leaders’ by Harry-Fletcher Wood. Everything you read about managing stress highlights the value of lists to seek to organise our thinking. This book is an excellent guide in how to do this for all aspects of education.

Making Changes

‘Switch’: How to Change thing when change is hard’ by Chip and Dan Heath. One of the most thought provoking reads I have read in this project: an overview of how to implement change in any organisation. Lots of very useful ideas for creating change in education.

Nudge by Richard Thaler. The fundamental basis for much of the modern thinking about behavioural economics, it has a range of interesting ideas related to education.

‘Peak.‘ by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool. How can we become expert teachers, and our students become expert learners? This is an inspiring read about how we can train ourselves through deliberate practice. It has such significant implications about what we ask students to repeat in our classrooms, and how they complete their individual practise: “This is a fundamental truth about any sort of practice: If you never push yourself beyond your comfort zone, you will never improve.”

Sleep

‘Sleep Faring: A journey through the science of sleep’ by Jim Horne. The best book I read on sleep, full of science and practical wisdom.

‘Why We Sleep’ by Matthew Walker. This delves into the science behind sleep, and is utterly fascinating. Disturbing reading for those of us who are sleep challenged, but will change how you look at sleep forever!

Coaching

The Coaching Manual by Julie Starr. This is an essential read if you want to understand better how to approach coaching conversations.  

Teacher Improvement

 ‘An ethic of Excellence’ by Ron Berger. Time to slow down and make sure that students understand what excellence is, and that we become an “archiver of excellence”, an inspiring read.

 ‘Constructive Talk’ by Valerie Coultas: A useful deconstruction of how to ensure quality classroom talk and on how to use talk to manage behaviour.

‘Make it Stick’ by Peter C. Brown, Henry L Roediger and Mark A McDaniel. Teaching for memory and retention is slow, deliberate and hugely nuanced and skilled. This book is the essential starting point in doing this well.

‘The Confident Teacher’ by Alex Quigley. Essential reading in the process of growing as a confident practitioner, a process that Quigley reiterates is slow and procedural.

‘High Challenge, Low Threat’ and ‘Hopeful Schools’ by Mary Myatt. What strikes me about both of Myatt’s books is a humanity that is considered, reflective but never naively optimistic. Myatt’s essays slowly deconstruct essential elements in successful schools: including relationships and harnessing attention to detail. Essential reading.

‘Teach like a Champion’ and ‘Reading Reconsidered’ by Doug Lemov. Lemov for me encapsulates the notion that growing as a practitioner is a slow, gradual and reflective process. The techniques in here are a call to striving to hone and develop the teaching craft, in a measured and deliberate fashion.

‘Talking Walkthrus’ by Tom Sherrington. Tom now has an excellent range of books to read about teaching and learning. This is out at the end of March, and I have been lucky enough to have a sneaky preview for his podcast interview. It is brilliant, and will make such an impact in improving teaching.

Memorable Teaching by Pepps Mccrea: An excellent and informative read on teaching to ensure memory retention and concentration.

‘Making Every Lesson Count’ by Shaun Allison and Andy Tharby: This is absolute gold dust, deconstructing six areas of education (challenge, explanation, modelling, practice, feedback and questioning) with clear and practical examples.

‘The hidden lives of learners.’ by Graham Nuthall. Full of valuable and thought provoking insights into a long career in education.

Visible Learning for Teachers, Maximising Impact on Learning‘ by John Hattie. Evidence based research with lots of excellent strategies for the classroom.

Teacher books on Well-being

‘The Elephant in the Staffroom: How do reduce stress and improve teacher wellbeing.’ by Chris Sivers. Very good on stress in the workplace, full of advice and ideas.

The Compassionate Teacher’ by Andy Sammons. I was fortunate enough to contribute a foreword for this wonderful book, and I think it is such an important book for anyone involved in education. Andy uses his own experience to explore why compassion should be central to our work in education.

‘Wellbeing in the Primary classroom’ by Adrian Bethune. Adrian Bethune is an inspiring chap, and this book should be essential reading for all primary teachers. Lots of brilliant strategies for keeping children calm, well and happy.

‘How to Survive in Teaching’ by Dr Emma Kell. Based on huge amounts of research and experience, this has lots of really helpful and practical suggestions about how to stay positive and succeed in teaching.

Behaviour Management

‘When adults change, everything changes’ by Paul Dix. The best book I have read on behaviour for this book, it will make you re-evaluate how you address behaviour in the classroom.

Mindfulness and Meditation 

The Power of Now by Ekhart Tolle’s. A thought provoking read that encourages mindful engagement with the present moment.

Mindfullness: a practical guide by Mark Williams. Essential reading for developing an understanding of how to live more mindfully.

The Science of Meditation by Daniel Goleman. A deconstruction of the research into meditation and mindfulness, further evidence in how meditation can help us to alleviate feelings of stress.

Motivation

Drive: The surprising truth of what motivates us’: by Daniel Pink. This book is brilliant in exposing what really motivates us: our need for autonomy, to sustain learning and to have an impact on the world. It is also powerful in looking at how we use language and reward to motivate others. So much is vital and relevant for how we function in our schools and classrooms, an area I hope to delve into in much more detail: ““Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.”

Public Speaking

Ted Talks by Chris Anderson. An amazing book that breaks down how to improve your public speaking, and how to use the power of stories to convey a message.

Podcasts

10 percent happier Dan Harris had a panic attack live on ABC America and decided his life needed changed. He discovered meditation, and this podcast is really interesting in managing lots of aspects of wellbeing. It features interviews with experts in various fields of meditation and wellbeing.

Dr Rangan Chatterjee ‘Feel Better, Live More’ A cracking podcast on wellbeing, covering a huge range of topics.

How to own the room: My wife swears by this podcast! It is about being confident, how to be assertive and public speaking.

How to fail: Really interesting podcast, with guests exploring their three biggest failures in life and what they have learned form it.