Outside the Classroom

February’s Top New Books for Educators

How does it feel to be back in the swing of things with 2020 behind us? (We’re pretty sure we feel the same!) With the holidays and semester start behind us, now is the perfect time to develop yourself and reflect. We have selected books covering a variety of topics to help you meet your personal goals as an educator, from creating an inclusive classroom to developing SEL content to preparing for challenges you can’t predict. Take a peek at our list of February’s top new books for educators. Whether you’re looking to settle down and read solo or share with a fellow colleague, there’s a book for every type of educator.

Removing Labels, Grades K-12: 40 Techniques to Disrupt Negative Expectations About Students and Schools
Dominique B. Smith, Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey

Disrupting the cycle starts with you.

No matter how conscientious we are, we carry implicit bias… which quickly turns into assumptions and then labels. Labels define our interactions with and expectations of students. Labels contribute to student identity and agency. And labels can have a negative effect beyond the classroom.

It’s crucial, then, that teachers remove labels and focus on students’ strengths—but this takes real work at an individual, classroom, and schoolwide scale.

Removing Labels urges you to take an active approach toward disrupting the negative effects of labels and assumptions that interfere with student learning. This book offers:

  • 40 practical, replicable teaching techniques—all based in research and best practice—that focus on building relationships, restructuring classroom engagement and management, and understanding the power of social and emotional learning.
  • Suggestions for actions on an individual, classroom, and schoolwide level.
  • Ready-to-go tools and student-facing printables to use in planning and instruction.

Removing Labels is more than a collection of teaching strategies—it’s a commitment to providing truly responsive education that serves all children. When you and your colleagues take action to prevent negative labels from taking hold, the whole community benefits.

Teaching with the HEART in Mind: A Complete Educator’s Guide to Social Emotional Learning
Lorea Martínez Pérez

Creating better outcomes for your students sometimes means you have to challenge the odds. Academics and standardized assessments aren’t enough. You need to educate both their hearts and minds.

Strengthen your students’ resilience, spark their curiosity for learning, and encourage future success in college, career, and beyond. Be the best teacher you can be and infuse social-emotional skills into your teaching of any subject.

In Teaching with the HEART in Mind, Dr. Lorea Martínez Pérez provides a comprehensive roadmap to understanding the psychology of emotions, relationships, and adversity in learning, while equipping you to teach SEL skills and develop your own social and emotional intelligence. Full of practical techniques for educators of all subjects, this is your guide for transforming your classroom through essential SEL principles. You’ll learn:

  • How to create a safe, supportive school environment that encourages a positive educational mindset and better goal setting.
  • A three-step process to infuse HEART skills into lesson planning for every subject and grade level.
  • A full scope and sequence by grade, along with indicators of mastery for each skill in the HEART in Mind program.
  • Tools for teachers to develop their own social and emotional capacity for a more effective and resilient teaching focus.
  • Over 90 activities to implement SEL into your classroom—even virtually!

Empower your students to be their best selves. Get Teaching with the HEART in Mind today and plant the seeds for a more caring, equitable future through education infused with social-emotional learning!

The Success Criteria Playbook: A Hands-On Guide to Making Learning Visible and Measurable
John T. Almarode, Douglas Fisher, Kateri Thunder, Nancy Frey

Provide students a clear view of what success looks like for any process, task, or product.

What does success look like for your students? How will they know if they have learned? This essential component of teaching and learning can be difficult to articulate but is vital to achievement for both teachers and students.

The Success Criteria Playbook catapults teachers beyond learning intentions to define clearly what success looks like for every student—whether face-to-face or in a remote learning environment. Designed to be used collaboratively in grade-level, subject area teams—or even on your own—the step-by-step playbook expands teacher understanding of how success criteria can be utilized to maximize student learning and better engage learners in monitoring and evaluating their own progress. Each module is designed to support the creation and immediate implementation of high-quality, high impact success criteria and includes:

  • Templates that allow for guided and independent study for teachers.
  • Extensive STEM-focused examples from across the K-12 STEM curriculum to guide teacher learning and practice.
  • Examples of success criteria applied across learning domains and grades, including high school content, skills, practices, dispositions, and understandings.

Ensure equity of access to learning and opportunity for all students by designing and employing high-quality, high-impact success criteria that connect learners to a shared understanding of what success looks like for any given learning intention.

Culturally Responsive Teaching for Multilingual Learners: Tools for Equity
Sydney Cail Snyder, Diane Staehr Fenner

What will you do to promote multilingual learners’ equity?

Our nation’s moment of reckoning with the deficit view of multilingual learners has arrived. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed and exacerbated long-standing inequities that stand in the way of MLs’ access to effective instruction. Recent events have also caused us to reflect on our place as educators within the intersection of race and language. In this innovative book, Sydney Snyder and Diane Staehr Fenner share practical, replicable ways you can draw from students’ strengths and promote multilingual learners’ success within and beyond your own classroom walls. In this book, you’ll find:

  • Practical and printable, research-based tools that guide you on how to implement culturally responsive teaching in your context.
  • Case studies and reflection exercises to help identify implicit bias in your work and mitigate deficit-based thinking.
  • Authentic classroom video clips in each chapter to show you what culturally responsive teaching actually looks like in practice.
  • Hand-drawn sketch note graphics that spotlight key concepts, reinforce central themes, and engage you with eye-catching and memorable illustrations.

There is no time like the present for you to reflect on your role in culturally responsive teaching and use new tools to build an even stronger school community that is inclusive of MLs. No matter your role or where you are in your journey, you can confront injustice by taking action steps to develop a climate in which all students’ backgrounds, experiences, and cultures are honored and educators, families, and communities work collaboratively to help MLs thrive. We owe it to our students.

The Spread the Happiness Approach: Happy Teachers, Happy Classrooms, Better Education
Shonette Bason-Wood

Both practical and inspiring, this book is designed to empower educators and school leaders to make clear and simple adjustments to their practice for a lasting impact on the happiness and well-being of staff and children and ultimately on academic standards. It includes practical tips and activities to help teachers generate a lasting atmosphere of positivity and happiness in the classroom plus clear strategies to help leaders to embed the Spread the Happiness approach throughout their school and across the curriculum.

This book includes detailed case studies, a five-week program of taster challenges, and a section on measuring outcomes and sharing success. The Spread the Happiness approach invites teachers to undertake a 27-day challenge, which encourages problem-solving and challenges them to make their immediate workplace happier. It identifies the strengths of adults and children and sets realistic goals to achieve as an individual, as a team, and even as a community.

This powerful resource will be of great interest to all teachers and school leaders, as well as trainee teachers and students on leadership or early educational courses.

Establishing Pathways to Inclusion: Investigating the Experiences and Outcomes for Students with Special Educational Needs
Richard Rose, Michael Shevlin

Providing a robust understanding of what really works for educators and pupils alike, this book shows how inclusive practices function effectively in schools. Rose and Shevlin identify key factors that can influence successful inclusive practice and examine how schools can establish and implement an agenda for change.

Using a framework for analyzing and understanding how students become effective social learners, this book guides readers through sections on context, observed experiences, and the factors for success they highlight, covering topics such as:

  • The respective attitudes of students, caregivers, and teachers.
  • Insights from support staff and school leaders.
  • The social and academic outcomes for pupils with special educational needs.
  • Lessons learned from inclusive practices.

Ideal for researchers, lecturers, and advanced students in the field of inclusive education, Establishing Pathways to Inclusion is an important contribution from leading researchers in this vital field of study.

Teaching from the Emerging Now
Linnette Werner, David Hellstrom

Microaggressions, complex identities, polarized belief systems, pandemic interruptions—these are just a few of the things the modern classroom holds. What if we could work with what emerges at the moment instead of seeing it as an unplanned disruption? Teaching from the Emerging Now explores how we combine our intention with what naturally emerges to create inclusive, dynamic classrooms amid constant change.

The Intentional Emergence model combines Case-in-Point and Adaptive Leadership with compassion and culturally responsive pedagogy to develop a new teaching and learning style. This approach takes the fear out of being surprised, provides concrete ways to both support and challenge students, and reimagines the classroom as a living leadership laboratory. Beyond bridging theory to practice, by rethinking the classroom from a place to impart knowledge to a shared space of co-creation, faculty, teachers, and trainers are better able to meet the increasingly diverse needs of learner.

The Education We Need for a Future We Can′t Predict
Thomas Hatch, Jordan Corson, Sarah Gerth van den Berg

Improve Schools and Transform Education

In order for educational systems to change, we must reevaluate deep-seated beliefs about learning, teaching, schooling, and race that perpetuate inequitable opportunities and outcomes. Hatch, Corson, and Gerth van den Berg challenge the narrative when it comes to the “grammar of schooling” —or the conventional structures, practices, and beliefs that define educational experiences for so many children—to cast a new vision of what school could be. The book addresses current systemic problems and solutions as it:

  • Highlights global examples of successful school change.
  • Describes strategies that improve educational opportunities and performance.
  • Explores promising approaches in developing new learning opportunities.
  • Outlines conditions for supporting wide-scale educational improvement.

This provocative book approaches education reform by highlighting what works, while also demonstrating what can be accomplished if we redefine conventional schools. We can make the schools we have more efficient, more effective, and more equitable, all while creating powerful opportunities to support all aspects of students’ development.

Did you miss last month’s recommendations? It’s not too late to see January’s top 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.