Outside the Classroom

August’s Top Books on Education: Your Back-to-School Reading List

The 2018–2019 school year is fast approaching (for some of you, it’s already here)! To help get you ready to be back in the classroom and say goodbye to summer, we’ve put together five top books on education to give you guidance and inspiration, and to set goals and help you achieve a more stress-free beginning of the school year. Check out these books for principals and teachers to help put yourself in the back-to-school spirit.

Student-Driven Differentiation: 8 Steps to Harmonize Learning in the Classroom
Lisa Westman 

Conduct Orchestras, Not Trains

“What if we understood that we can teach the important ideas and skills of the disciplines in a hundred different ways? And that students can learn them in a hundred different ways?” — Carol Ann Tomlinson

How can teachers create harmony in the classroom when the educational field is lacking tangible action plans for how to differentiate learning for every student? Full of just-in-time, step-by-step guidance, Student-Driven Differentiation: 8 Steps to Harmonize Learning in the Classroom will show you how to incorporate student voice and choice in the process of planning for differentiation. This unique approach is based on building collaborative student-teacher relationships as a precursor to student growth. The result? Every student learns according to their own needs.

Organized into three parts for quick reference, this book will lay the foundation for student-driven differentiation and:

  • Identify the criteria for positive teacher-student relationships
  • Examine four areas for differentiated learning—content, process, product, environment
  • Describe the process of planning and implementing student-driven differentiation
  • Motivate and support you in your student-driven differentiation journey
  • Provide unique examples and engaging vignettes throughout, including a fun project inspired by Shark Tank!

Student-Driven Differentiation illustrates relevant, real-life examples of authentic learning, using student-driven differentiation as the foundation for these experiences. You’ll also receive an 8-step roadmap outlining actionable strategies that will help you foster a culture of student-driven differentiation and student-driven leadership.

Teaching with Compassion: An Educator’s Oath to Teach from the Heart
Peter Kaufman and Janine Schipper

In a world where students are often seen as test scores and not as human beings; where their well-being is challenged by poverty, intolerance, and bullying; and where technological innovations frequently erode genuine personal contact, compassionate teachers are needed more than ever.

Teaching with Compassion offers practical tools and strategies designed to help educators foster a culture of care and compassion. Organized around an eight-point “Teaching with Compassion Oath,” this book draws on real-life examples and exercises to demonstrate the power and potential of teaching from the heart. Written for both experienced and novice educators alike, Teaching with Compassion is sure to stimulate inquiry and provide ongoing inspiration.

Aware: The Science and Practice of Presence—The Groundbreaking Meditation Practice
Daniel Siegel, MD

This groundbreaking new book from New York Times bestselling author Daniel J. Siegel, MD, introduces readers to his pioneering, science-based meditation practice.

Aware provides practical instruction for mastering the Wheel of Awareness, a life-changing tool for cultivating more focus, presence, and peace in one’s day-to-day life.

An in-depth look at the science that underlies meditation’s effectiveness, this book teaches readers how to harness the power of the principle “Where attention goes, neural firing flows, and neural connection grows.” Siegel reveals how developing a Wheel of Awareness practice to focus attention, open awareness, and cultivate kind intention can literally help you grow a healthier brain and reduce fear, anxiety, and stress in your life.

Whether you have no experience with a reflective practice or are an experienced practitioner, Aware is a hands-on guide that will enable you to become more focused and present, as well as more energized and emotionally resilient in the face of stress and the everyday challenges life throws your way.

Unleashing Great Teaching: The Secrets to the Most Effective Teacher Development
David Weston, Bridget Clay

It’s within the power of each and every school to unleash the best in teachers, day by day, month by month, year by year.

This practical handbook takes the guesswork out of professional learning, showing school leaders how they can build a self-improving culture and remove barriers to learning. David Weston and Bridget Clay set out their advice for how every school can bring in the best ideas from the whole system, and make sure that these have a lasting effect in the classroom. Packed full of examples, easy-to-use ideas, and checklists, Unleashing Great Teaching brings together a vast body of experience gained by the Teacher Development Trust (UK), and shows how other schools can learn from these insights. From fostering a culture of evaluating impact to establishing good relationships, communication, and a developmental culture, this book takes each and every aspect of the school system and reassesses its role as a driver of teacher and student success.

An invaluable resource for leaders at any level within the schooling system, Unleashing Great Teaching will open doors and inspire leaders, teachers, students, and communities to learn about learning.


Experience Inquiry: 5 Powerful Strategies, 50 Practical Experiences
Kimberly L. Mitchell

Discover inquiry for yourself with this interactive guide

Plenty of resources speak to the benefits of inquiry, the research behind it, and even subject-specific processes to follow. But that’s not enough. Implementing inquiry is the tricky part, and involves changing beliefs about the teacher and student roles in the classroom. Most critically, we as teachers must engage in inquiry ourselves to successfully implement it in the classroom.

One part practical guide, one part interactive journal, this book provides the opportunity to do inquiry as you read about it. You’ll learn what inquiry-based instruction looks like in practice through five key strategies, all of which can be immediately implemented in any learning environment. This resource offers:

  • Practical examples of what inquiry looks like in the classroom, and how to do it
  • Opportunities for reflection throughout the book, including self-surveys, templates, and tools
  • A user-friendly handbook format for quick reference and logical progression through your inquiry journey
  • Fifty practical inquiry experiences that can be used individually, with students, or in small groups of teachers

These strategies and experiences will improve your relationships with students and colleagues, reduce your workload by asking more of students, and breathe joyful curiosity back into your classroom. Let’s get out of our comfort zones and do inquiry-based teaching in a more practical and powerful way! Are you ready?

Can’t get enough? Check out our back-to-school reading suggestions from last year!

About the Author


Sasha Wordlaw

Sasha joined Edgenuity in 2015 as a Success Coach where she helped teachers and students achieve success through mentorship and assistance with their education platforms. During her tenure, Sasha was thrilled to further expand her experience with the marketing team, helping to inform people about the latest in edtech and education. As the oldest child in her family and a mother to one, Sasha has been dedicated to enriching the minds of children for most of her life. Her love for education combined with studies in theatre and film led her to teach children’s theatre for 3 years before working in special education with Scottsdale Unified School District in Arizona. Sasha continues her devotion to the arts within the Phoenix theatre community, working on stage and behind-the-scenes. A proud Nashville, TN native, Sasha and her son now call Arizona home.