The Top 15 Books for Teachers

Summer is fast approaching and it is time to think about the slow life  — backyard bbqs, cold glasses of lemonade on the porch, and books by the pool.

I went through all of the episodes of the podcast and reached out to teachers on Twitter to share the best professional book they have read recently.

Are you looking for the most impactful, the most inspiring, the most beneficial books that will help you succeed in the classroom? Perhaps you need ways to improve the way in which you motivate students. Perhaps you want to build a better classroom culture. Need new ways to teach reading and writing across the curriculum? Or, you might be curious about trends like Genius Hour and project-based learning.

Boy, do I have a list for you.

THE LIST — The Top 15 Educational Books Recommended by Master Teachers

 1. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success — World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, in decades of research on achievement and success, has discovered a truly groundbreaking idea–the power of our mindset.
Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success–but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset. She makes clear why praising intelligence and ability doesn’t foster self-esteem and lead to accomplishment, but may actually jeopardize success. With the right mindset, we can motivate our kids and help them to raise their grades, as well as reach our own goals–personal and professional. Dweck reveals what all great parents, teachers, CEOs, and athletes already know: how a simple idea about the brain can create a love of learning and a resilience that is the basis of great accomplishment in every area.

 2.  Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator — Based on Dave Burgess’s popular “Outrageous Teaching” and “Teach Like a PIRATE” seminars, this book offers inspiration, practical techniques, and innovative ideas that will help you to increase student engagement, boost your creativity, and transform your life as an educator. You’ll learn how to: • Tap into and dramatically increase your passion as a teacher • Develop outrageously engaging lessons that draw students in like a magnet • Establish rapport and a sense of camaraderie in your classroom • Transform your class into a life-changing experience for your students This groundbreaking inspirational manifesto contains over 30 hooks specially designed to captivate your class and 170 brainstorming questions that will skyrocket your creativity. Once you learn the Teach Like a PIRATE system, you’ll never look at your role as an educator the same again.

 3. Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading — Kylene Beers and Bob Probst introduce 6 “signposts” that alert readers to significant moments in a work of literature and encourage students to read closely. Learning first to spot these signposts and then to question them, enables readers to explore the text, any text, finding evidence to support their interpretations. In short, these close reading strategies will help your students to notice and note.
Notice and Note will help create attentive readers who look closely at a text, interpret it responsibly, and reflect on what it means in their lives. It should help them become the responsive, rigorous, independent readers we not only want students to be but know our democracy demands.

 4. The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life — This book builds on a simple premise: good teaching cannot be reduced to technique but is rooted in the identity and integrity of the teacher. Good teaching takes myriad forms but good teachers share one trait: they are authentically present in the classroom, in community with their students and their subject. They possess “a capacity for connectedness” and are able to weave a complex web of connections between themselves, their subjects, and their students, helping their students weave a world for themselves. The connections made by good teachers are held not in their methods but in their hearts — the place where intellect, emotion, spirit, and will converge in the human self — supported by the community that emerges among us when we choose to live authentic lives.

 5. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us — Most people believe that the best way to motivate is with rewards like money—the carrot-and-stick approach. That’s a mistake, says Daniel H. Pink (author of To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Motivating Others). In this provocative and persuasive new book, he asserts that the secret to high performance and satisfaction-at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.
Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Pink exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does—and how that affects every aspect of life. He examines the three elements of true motivation—autonomy, mastery, and purpose-and offers smart and surprising techniques for putting these into action in a unique book that will change how we think and transform how we live.

 6. The End of Molasses Classes: Getting Our Kids Unstuck–101 Extraordinary Solutions for Parents and Teachers  — Ron Clark is widely known as “America’s Educator” and was Oprah Winfrey’s first pick as her “Phenomenal Man.” He is a New York Times bestselling author and has been featured on the Today show, CNN, and The Oprah Winfrey Show. He challenges parents, teachers, and communities everywhere embrace a difference in the classroom and uplift, educate, and empower our children. Read this book to find out why so many across the country have embraced these powerful rules.

 

7. The Best Lesson Series: Literature: 15 Master Teachers Share What Works  — This book is different from the rest. It is the most practical on the list because it is not pedagogy or theory, The Best Lesson Series: Literature contains the best work done by the best teachers, straight from their classroom to yours. Each lesson will increase student engagement, boost their appreciation of literature, and transform your classroom into a place of discovery and deep critical thinking. Each teacher guides you through their plan with clarity while offering options for differentiation. Each lesson is easy to understand and easy to implement.

 

8. Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World — Harvard education expert Tony Wagner explores what parents, teachers, and employers must do to develop the capacities of young people to become innovators. In profiling compelling young American innovators such as Kirk Phelps, product manager for Apple’s first iPhone, and Jodie Wu, who founded a company that builds bicycle-powered maize shellers in Tanzania, Wagner reveals how the adults in their lives nurtured their creativity and sparked their imaginations, while teaching them to learn from failures and persevere. Play, passion, and purpose: These are the forces that drive young innovators.
Wagner takes readers into the most forward-thinking schools, colleges, and workplaces in the country, where teachers and employers are developing cultures of innovation based on collaboration, interdisciplinary problem-solving, and intrinsic motivation. The result is a timely, provocative, and inspiring manifesto that offers crucial insight into creating the change makers of tomorrow.

9. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking — In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.

 10. The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child — Donalyn Miller says she has yet to meet a child she couldn’t turn into a reader. No matter how far behind Miller’s students might be when they reach her 6th grade classroom, they end up reading an average of 40 to 50 books a year. Miller’s unconventional approach dispenses with drills and worksheets that make reading a chore. Instead, she helps students navigate the world of literature and gives them time to read books they pick out themselves. Her love of books and teaching is both infectious and inspiring. The book includes a dynamite list of recommended “kid lit” that helps parents and teachers find the books that students really like to read.

 11. Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level — You’ve heard the complaints too many times: When am I ever going to use this in the real world? Why are we learning this? When are we going to learn about something interesting? But what if your students came to class excited? What if they were passionate about their projects? What if they grasped the connection between today’s work and tomorrow’s careers? In classrooms across the nation, innovative teachers are employing passion-based, open-source learning to improve their student’s education. In Pure Genius, Don Wettrick encourages teachers and administrators to collaborate–with experts, students, and one another–to create interesting, and even life-changing opportunities for learning.

 12. Teach Like a Champion 2.0: 62 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College — Teach Like a Champion offers effective teaching techniques to help teachers, especially those in their first few years, become champions in the classroom. These powerful techniques are concrete, specific, and are easy to put into action the very next day. Training activities at the end of each chapter help the reader further their understanding through reflection and application of the ideas to their own practice. The book includes a DVD of 25 video clips of teachers demonstrating the techniques in the classroom.

 

 13. With Rigor for All, Second Edition: Meeting Common Core Standards for Reading Literature— Again and again the Common Core Standards state that students must read “proficiently and independently” but how do we achieve this when students are groaning about having to read demanding literature and looking for ways to pass the class without turning pages?  Carol Jago shows middle and high school teachers how to create English classrooms where students care about living literate lives and develop into proficient independent readers. Students need books that mirror their own experiences and if you teach literature that you love, your students will be more likely to love it too.

14.  The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher, 4th Edition — The best-selling book ever on classroom management and teaching for student achievement with over 3.7 million copies sold. The book walks a teacher, either novice or veteran, through structuring and organizing a classroom for success that can be applied at any time of the year at any grade level, pre-K through college.
The book is used in thousands of school districts, in over 120 countries, and in over 2,114 college classrooms, and has been translated into 5 languages. It’s practical, yet inspiring. But most important, it works!

 15. Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition — This book poses the core, essential questions of understanding and design, and provides readers with practical solutions for the teacher-designer.  The book opens by analyzing the logic of backward design as an alternative to coverage and activity-oriented plans.  Though backward from habit, this approach brings more focus and coherence to instruction.  The book proposes a multifaceted approach, with the six “facets” of understanding.  The facets combine with backward design to provide a powerful, expanded array of practical tools and strategies for designing curriculum, instruction, and assessments that lead students at all grade levels to genuine understanding.

 

If you enjoyed this list, check out  5 Transformative Books for Teachers.