Outside the Classroom

April’s Top New Books for Educators

The arrival of April means educators and students have been dealing with pandemic-related (and exacerbated) difficulties for over a year. Twelve months of a mix of distance, online, remote, hybrid, and in-person learning has certainly challenged everyone, and has also led to a lot of innovation and creativity on the part of educators. For April’s top new books for educators, we’ve chosen a mix of books that can help educators get through these challenges and continue guiding their students to be the best versions of themselves. Check out our picks below to learn more about uncovering student thinking, incorporating social and emotional learning everywhere, and more.

Leading Schools in Disruptive Times: How to Survive Hyper-Change, Second Edition
Mark White and Dwight L. Carter

From surviving to thriving during constant disruption

The updated edition of this handbook couldn’t have come at a better time. Focusing on lessons learned from the disruptions of 2020, including the COVID school closures and the renewed pursuit of social justice, the authors show school leaders how to prepare for and respond to disruptions that are leading to a “new normal.”

Educators are racing to stay ahead of pandemic-scale disruptions and need a blueprint for transformation. This book will walk you through the decision-making process so you’ll be able to transform as a leader to confront the issues you’ll face in the 2020s. Features include:

  • Practical strategies for identifying and responding to disruptions
  • An overview of the CAT framework: coping, adjusting, transforming
  • Real-life stories from exceptional educational leaders
  • Tips on guiding teachers, staff, and students through the many lessons learned during the pandemic
  • Activities, scenarios, and practical actions to lead through complex topics that include remote learning, social justice issues, education reforms, generational differences, and social media issues

The pandemic has been the biggest disruption in school history, and this will be a decade of monumental change for schools. Your stakeholders will look to you to guide them—and this book gives you the tools you need to have the mindset and practical steps to be successful in an ever-changing world.

Improve Every Lesson Plan with SEL
Jeffrey Benson

Jeffrey Benson draws from his 40-plus years of experience as a teacher and an administrator to provide explicit, step-by-step guidance on how to incorporate social and emotional learning (SEL) into K–12 lesson planning—without imposing a separate SEL curriculum.

The book identifies SEL skills in three broad categories: skills for self, interpersonal skills, and skills as a community member. It offers research-based strategies for seamlessly integrating these skills into every section of lesson plans, from introducing a topic in a way that sparks students’ interest, to accessing prior knowledge, providing direct instruction, allowing time for experimentation and discovery, using formative assessment, and closing a lesson in a purposeful rather than haphazard manner.

Rural America’s Pathways to College and Career: Steps for Student Success and School Improvement
Rick Dalton

This book provides solutions to the vexing educational challenges that rural communities face and serves as a how-to guide for building college and career readiness within rural schools.

Rural America’s Pathways to College and Career shares practical tips that can be used by educators and community members to transform rural schools, help students develop essential skills, locate and train college- and career-ready advisors, establish business partnerships, build college readiness, leverage technology, build interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers, and understand how to pay for college.

Based on research and drawing on best practice and poignant stories, Dalton shares examples of success and challenges from interviews conducted with over 200 individuals who have participated in programs across the country. By helping rural youth learn about the opportunities available and by providing them with the support they need to succeed, this book serves as an actionable guide to helping students in rural schools attain postsecondary school success.

How to Look at Student Work to Uncover Student Thinking
Susan M. Brookhart and Alice Oakley

Student work is the primary means of learning in most if not all classroom lessons and the primary source of evidence about that learning. Yet research shows that many educators look at student work more to ascertain its correctness rather than to delve into what it reveals about students’ thought processes and understanding.

Are you picking up all your students’ work is trying to tell you?

In How to Look at Student Work to Uncover Student Thinking, assessment expert Susan M. Brookhart and instructional coach Alice Oakley walk teachers through a better and more illuminating way to approach student work across grade levels and content areas. You’ll learn to view students’ assignments not as a verdict on right or wrong but as a window into what students “got” and how they are thinking about it. The insight you’ll gain will help you

  • Infer what students are thinking,
  • Provide effective feedback,
  • Decide on next instructional moves, and
  • Grow as a professional.

Brookhart and Oakley then guide teachers through the next steps: clarify learning goals, increase the quality of classroom assessments, deepen your content and pedagogical knowledge, study student work with colleagues, and involve students in the formative learning cycle. The book’s many authentic examples of student work and teacher insights, coaching tips, and reflection questions will help readers move from looking at student work for correctness to looking at student work as evidence of student thinking.

Motivating Students Who Don’t Care: Proven Strategies to Engage All Learners
Allen N. Mendler

In the second edition of this valuable resource, Allen Mendler offers both time-tested and newly developed strategies for how to reignite enthusiasm in even the most unmotivated students. Educators gain fresh ideas on how to integrate social-emotional development into daily classroom instruction, use technology and digital tools to enhance learning, and reduce the anxiety students feel in our ever-changing education environment.

  • Understand why students might be unmotivated in class and learn how to boost student engagement.
  • Examine the beliefs and five key processes for guiding and inspiring unmotivated students.
  • Learn about the importance of emphasizing effort in the classroom.
  • Learn how to build strong, trusting teacher-student relationships.

Did you miss last month’s recommendations? It’s not too late to see March’s top new books for educators.

About the Author


Where Learning Clicks

Since 1998, Edgenuity has been creating products and services that help all students achieve their full potential. As an extension of our efforts, we also produce Where Learning Clicks to share meaningful and timely ideas about trends, developments, and changes in education, as well as how to further incorporate technology into today’s classrooms.