Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • CommentsComments
EdWeek's Back to School Reading List

EdWeek's Back-to-School Reading List

32 Must Reads to Help You Start the Year Right

Facebook Twitter Addthis

Ready or not, the new school year is here. Education Week has the news and resources to inspire and empower you to start the year strong. Looking for strategies to calm students’ first-day jitters? Want to find tips for spotting and preventing potential cybersecurity threats? Just need some motivation from fellow educators to remind you why you chose this profession in the first place? Our Back-to-School Reading List has that and more. Browse by topic or scroll down to explore some of our most popular and powerful stories, selected by our editors as back-to-school "must reads". (Complete with some EdWeek staff notes about why we picked the stories we did.)




A Sandy Hook Parent's Letter to Teachers

Nelba Marquez-Greene, whose daughter Ana Grace was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School last year, writes about the courage of teachers. Read more >

"What does it take to be a teacher? Courage, faith, and love, says a mother who lost her 6-year-old daughter in the Sandy Hook school shooting. This Commentary by Nelba Marquez-Greene originally appeared in 2013 for back-to-school season, but its message is timeless. Marquez-Greene pays homage to teachers and the wisdom of her daughter—Ana Grace—in this beautifully written story."Michele Molnar, Associate Editor


9 Mistakes New Teachers Make

New teachers face many obstacles during their first year on the job. Middle school teacher Cristie Watson draws attention to some major errors to avoid. Read more >


Video: Second-Year Teachers Share Advice for Rookies

Education Week asked two second-year teachers to share some tweets with advice for new teachers—and to reflect on their own triumphs and struggles their first year in the classroom. Watch >

"For teachers who need a pep-talk as they head into a new school year, this video is for you. The advice is meant for first-year teachers, but it applies to everyone, no matter how many years of experience you have. And I don’t think you can watch this video without smiling!"Madeline Will, Staff Writer


Haunting Words to Inspire Every Teacher

Marilyn Rhames, a former writing teacher, talks about the teacher lounge conversation that changed her life. Read more >

"Published eight years ago, this piece was Marilyn Rhames’ first blog post on our website, and it’s stuck with me ever since. The four words she heard from a generally quiet colleague in the teachers’ lounge—“it happened to them”—truly are both haunting and inspiring, and ones I believe all teachers should keep in mind as they start the new year."Liana Heitin Loewus, Assistant Managing Editor


10 Non-Standard Ideas About Going Back to School

Education Week Teacher blogger Nancy Flanagan encourages teachers to begin the new school year by being mindful of these non-conventional strategies. Read more >


Teaching Secrets: Get to Know Students Through Seating Challenges

By engaging students in seating challenges, teacher Sandy Merz sets a positive collaborative tone from the first day—and gains information that might otherwise take weeks to learn. Read more >


Co-Teaching for Rookies

Special educators wrote to Education Week with their advice on what it takes to make a co-teaching partnership successful. (Part one of a two-part series.) Read more >

"Some teachers this year may be embarking on their first experience co-teaching, or they may be looking for ways to improve the co-teaching relationship they already have. These blog posts include a number of practical suggestions from Education Week readers—further proof that the some of the most useful "professional development" comes from teachers just like you."Christina Samuels, Associate Editor


Six Signs of—and Solutions for—Teacher Burnout

Teacher Wendi Pillars offers suggestions to help teachers emerge stronger from burnout experiences. Read more >


Happy Teachers Practice Self-Care

"I personally cannot deliver a lesson to the best of my ability if I don’t get a full night's rest, if I don't eat on my lunch break." Read more >

"For teachers who are always putting others first and have accepted the exhaustion and stress of teaching as “just part of the job” … this article is for you. My hope is that it reminds you to value your own well-being."Stacey Decker, Deputy Managing Editor for Digital

Teaching Introverted Students: How a 'Quiet Revolution' Is Changing Classroom Practice

Inspired by Susan Cain's 2012 book, Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking, teachers in New York City and elsewhere are developing learning environments that give a voice to silent students. Read more >


Dear White Teachers: You Can't Love Your Black Students If You Don't Know Them (Opinion)

It isn't enough to "love all students," writes the University of Georgia's Bettina L. Love. Read more >

"White teachers especially may be interested to read Professor Love’s call to pay attention to the impact of racism on black children's schooling experiences, resources, and communities."Mary Hendrie, Assistant Commentary Editor


The Difficult (and Satisfying) Run of Teaching Defiant Students

Working with defiant students can be challenging, teacher Allison Riddle writes. She shares some tips for building a trusting relationship with students who struggle behaviorally. Read more >

7 Things Teachers Can Quit Doing This Year

Looking to shake up your pedagogy or teaching mindset this year? Here are seven habits teachers have cast off in the spirit of becoming a better educator. Read more >



The Secret to Student Engagement

How can schools encourage deeper learning? Chip and Dan Heath, bestselling authors and the researchers behind "peak moments," explain. Read more >


Are Classroom Reading Groups the Best Way to Teach Reading? Maybe Not

Recent studies raise some hard questions about the value of ability-based reading groups. Read more >

"Do we stigmatize students when we divide them into groups of “redbirds” and “bluebirds” to teach beginning reading? This article offers thought food for teachers who want to be more reflective and deliberate about organizing their classroom reading groups this year."Debbie Viadero, Assistant Managing Editor


Schools Teach Civics. Do They Model It?

A group of Colorado students who led a peaceful protest at their school learned a hard lesson about civics from school administrators—and it didn’t come from textbooks. Read more >

"As school administrators put together student conduct codes for the coming school year, it’s a good time to think about the invisible messages those rules and regulations and discipline practices send to students. We all could do better when it comes to modeling democratic values for the next generation of citizens."Debbie Viadero, Assistant Managing Editor


Want to Personalize Learning? Computers Aren't the Answer

Keeping five classes of 30 students engaged each day isn’t an easy task. Nina Parrish shares five steps to help. Read more >

"This article offers teachers useful tips on engaging the whole class and personalizing students’ learning without having to rely on technology."Dominique Bander, Commentary Intern


Science Teachers, Be Honest About What Science Still Can't Explain

The universe is full of questions waiting to be solved. So why teach science like all the discoveries have already been made? asks Alexander Bell. Read more >

"This practical appeal to science educators is a good reminder of how teachers can nurture their students’ innate curiosity—and how they can inadvertently snuff it out."Mary Hendrie, Assistant Commentary Editor


Financial Literacy Transforms Students' Lives. Here's Where to Start

Teachers overwhelmingly agree teaching personal finance is important, but many aren't comfortable with the subject in their own lives, write Annamaria Lusardi and Nan Morrison. Read more >



What It Takes to Be a Human First and a Principal Second

Leadership is a test. One very busy principal explains how he learned to pass. Read more >

"The job of the principal is full of challenges and unexpected demands, and there’s rarely time for self-care. Principal Paul Kelly explains how an order from his superintendent helped him avoid burnout."Elizabeth Rich, Commentary Editor

6 Tips for Principals to Survive—and Thrive

We asked principals to tell us their biggest challenges, and six clear, commonly shared issues emerged. Here are strategies for tackling them, from school leaders and experts. Read more >


6 Steps for Preventing and Cleaning Up Cyberattacks

Learn about common-sense measures you can put in place to protect your district against a rising mix of cyber threats facing K-12 schools. Read more >

"For school districts feeling threatened by shadowy actors launching cyberattacks on their networks, all is not lost. Here are some simple steps K-12 leaders can take to create a line of defense, as they head into the new academic year."Sean Cavanagh, Associate Editor


A School-Improvement Guidebook: Empower Teachers

How can a busy principal find time to launch an innovative continuous-improvement model? Ron Myers shares his experience. Read more >

"How does a principal fill in the gap between his administrative responsibilities and providing support for his teachers? In this school-improvement guidebook, Texas high school principal Ron Myers explains how he created a deep bench of school-based instructional coaches, enabling him to be more responsive to the needs of his campus."Elizabeth Rich, Commentary Editor

Video: What a Principal Learned by Shadowing a Student for a Day

Have you thought about shadowing a student? This school leader did, and gained insights on her school’s policies and practices. Watch >

10 Bold Ideas Principals Can Embrace This School Year

Principals, want to change things up this school year? Here are 10 suggestions—big and small—for tackling a perennial issue or rethinking one of your standard practices. Read more >



The #1 Factor That Determines A Toxic or Thriving School Culture

When it comes to the success of an individual classroom, nothing is more important than the relationship between the teacher and the students. When it comes to the success of an entire school, nothing is more important than the relationship of the adults in the building. Read more >


Calming Those Back-to-School Jitters

The first day of school can be scary. Nancy Barile shares five ways teachers can help alleviate their new students’ fears. Read more >


Mispronouncing Students' Names: A Slight That Can Cut Deep

A national campaign aims to raise awareness in schools about the importance of pronouncing students' names correctly. Read more >

"All students deserve to have teachers who get to know them—and getting to know them starts with pronouncing their names correctly. But for students with non-Anglo or non-traditional names, it’s not uncommon to go through years of schooling hearing butchered versions of their names. This must-read story deftly explains why teachers (and principals!) need to take the time and care to learn how to pronounce students’ names correctly and the negative impact it can have when they don’t."Lesli Maxwell, Assistant Managing Editor


I'm a Transgender Teacher. Here’s Why I Came Out at My School

"Thinking of our queer, trans, and questioning students, as well as our students of color and multiracial students, I wanted to pass on a message of affirmation: Believe that people are who they say they are, and celebrate it," writes Sam Long. Read more >

"As administrators think to building school culture at the beginning of the year, Sam Long's reflection on coming out demonstrates the power of an affirming community—and offers a roadmap for leaders who want to make their schools more welcoming for all staff. "Sarah Schwartz, Staff Writer


The Deficit Lens of the 'Achievement Gap' Needs to Be Flipped. Here's How

Does a student have a fixed or a growth mindset? That's the wrong question for us to measure, argues researcher Dave Paunesku. Read more >

"For any teacher interested in integrating social psychological concepts into their classrooms—growth mindset, grit, a sense of belong, etc.—this researcher offers a valuable word of caution to avoid playing into the deficit discourse."Mary Hendrie, Assistant Commentary Editor

Why Lunch, Exercise, Sleep, and Air Quality Matter at School

Lunches wolfed down in 15 minutes. Little or no recess. Sleep-deprived teens. And pollutant-filled indoor air. There’s mounting evidence that addressing these basic quality of life issues can improve students’ achievement and well-being. Read more >


Classrooms May Soon Shed Dated Desk/Chair Combo

The classroom of the future could bear little resemblance to the "old school" look prevalent in schools today. Read more >

"Most of us can remember having to squeeze like circus performers into the oldest of old-school desks in class. Now these ergonomic dinosaurs appear to be on their way out in many schools."Michele Molnar, Associate Editor

Do you have a favorite back-to-school piece? Share it in the comment section below!

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.