Best Reads for Teachers

In order for teachers to teach well, they too have to be great students. They must be students of the world, their subjects, and even of the students they are teaching. They should be continually learning—striving to improve their teaching practices, endeavoring to better communicate concepts to their students, and aiming to help their students grasp and retain information. Teachers can learn a great deal from their students and from their colleagues, but they can also take time for personal development reading throughout the school year and during breaks. When you were in school getting your teaching degree, you likely had to read a number of textbooks and other non-fiction books about teaching. Whether that was just a few years ago or several decades ago, there are always new books about teaching and education, and we want to recommend a few for you. So during your next break from school or on your next free weekend, pick up a few of these great reads so you can continue to improve yourself as an individual and as a teacher.

Urban Myths About Learning and Education, by Pedro de Bruyckere, Paul A. Kirschner, & Casper D. Hulshof

From common myths to some more obscure ideas, this book scientifically breaks down some learning and education-related myths so you can teach more effectively and comprehensively in your classroom. Read about why it’s not true that boys are better at math than girls, why babies don’t actually become smarter from listening to classical music, why we don’t actually use only 10% of our brain, and much more.

Why Don’t Students Like School? by Daniel Willingham

This book is written by a cognitive scientist. He explores the biological and cognitive basis for learning, based on his own research, and explains nine simple principles for how students think and learn. Each principle includes applications within the classroom to engage students more successfully and to improve their knowledge retention and application. The book explains eye-opening concepts, such as the malleability of the brain, the importance of facts in critical thinking skills, and some key factors in building knowledge.

Teaching with the Brain in Mind by Eric Jensen

Research-based neuroscience principles meet practical classroom applications in this book about student learning. It focuses on the main idea that we can affect students’ learning capabilities much more significantly than we realize, both at home and in the classroom. Eric Jensen provides real tips for how to prepare young students to begin school, how to keep students motivated to participate in class discussions and learning activities, how to influence emotional states and use emotions for the benefit of learning, and how to encourage and enhance critical thinking skills and memory preservation.

The Hidden Lives of Learners by Graham Nuthall

Well-known professor and researcher Graham Nuthall wrote this book as a basic overview of his life’s work of learning and education research. The book explores three worlds that exist within the classroom: the public world that includes the teacher’s impact on the students, the semi-private world of peers and their relationships with each other, and the private world that exists only in the minds of students. This book defines and explains what it takes for students to truly learn and retain a concept, and it has created a foundation of high quality, evidence-based education.

Teaching with Your Mouth Shut by Donald Finkel

This book doesn’t claim to be a manual for teachers, but rather it is meant to inspire educators and provoke reflection and conversation about education and its practices. It aims to transform the readers’ ideas of what good teaching is and to give teachers the courage and confidence to hand the responsibility of learning off to their students. This book should motivate educators to give students the opportunity to facilitate their own educational practices and achieve learning success in their own way.

Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess

Based on his well-known seminars, Dave Burgess’s book is a must-read for anyone in education. Not only will it inspire you to be the best teacher you can be, but it also provides practical tips and applications for keeping your students engaged during class. Additionally, Dave Burgess offers innovative ideas for how to boost your own creativity and encourages you to transform your entire life—both as an educator and as a person. This book helps you reignite your passion for teaching and revolutionize your classroom by creating an engaging environment, comradery within the classroom, and significant life-changing experiences for yourself and your students.

Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools by Ron Ritchhart

This book presents unique and innovative ideas about the force behind true education: thinking. Ron Ritchhart argues that curriculum is significantly less important than creating a culture of thinking, both within the classroom walls and beyond the schooling years. He provides practical applications for how teachers can leverage eight cultural forces to foster a culture of thinking, and he discusses how this culture will produce what is necessary to propel students towards learning and growth, even when it is challenging.  

Smart but Scattered by Peg Dawson & Richard Guare

This revolutionary book takes a unique approach to managing students’ behaviors and academic performance at school. It aims to teach students “executive skills” that are necessary for academic and personal success, such as organization, impulse control, time management, focus, planning, follow-through, emotional control, problem-solving, resourcefulness, and more. The book provides steps to discover strengths and weaknesses in children, as well as useable techniques and easy-to-do activities to help students boost needed skills.