The Top 50 Best Books for Teachers

There are a LOT of great books for teachers out there. Picking just fifty is no easy feat but we’ve done our best to cover the best books for teachers from five different angles.

All of these are exceptional reads for teachers. They are in no particular order; number one’s content is just as significant a teacher resource as number fifty. So, take a browse through the list or jump directly to your area of interest as a teacher, whether it’s inspiration, mindfulness, leadership ways, classroom management, improved student outcomes, teaching, learning culture, or educational psychology.

Top Professional Development Books For Teachers Compared

The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, And learn A Culture of Creativity George Couros

One of our favorite professional development books for teachers, The Innovator’s Mindset, contains numerous practical examples of innovative leadership. George Couros encourages any school teacher and administrator to shape students’ natural curiosity by empowering them to question and explore. Innovation starts at the top; this book shows educators how to become innovative thinkers. 

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way To Build Good Habits And Break Bad Ones – James Clear

While not strictly a professional development book, it is one of my favorite books for teachers. In Atomic Habits, world-renowned habits expert James Clear explains how small changes can transform a teacher’s life and impact student learning and student behavior. This practical book reveals simple life hacks and explains why they form good habits and break bad ones.  

So Much Reform, So Little Change: The Persistence Of Failure In Urban SchoolsCharles M Payne 

In this book, Charles M Payne vividly portrays the weakness of the social infrastructure and daily realities in today’s urban schools. However, the last decade brings hope with insights into the causes of school failure and how some schools succeeded in improving.

Vintage Innovation: Leveraging Retro Tools And Classic Ideas To Design Deeper Learning ExperiencesJohn Spencer

John Spencer’s professional development books answer questions real teachers have of being innovative in the classroom without the best technology, spark creativity within constraints, and how to use vintage tools and approaches in new ways. Vintage Innovation shows the relevance for teachers to look back and forward, using timeless skills and strategies in new ways. 

An Educator’s Guide To STEAM: Engaging Students Using Real-World Problems – Cassie F Quigley, Danielle Herro, Deborah Hanuscin

An Educator’s Guide to STEAM is a practical book to help K-8 grade teachers understand STEAM. The conceptual model illustrates key STEAM teaching aspects like integrating STEAM content and the correct teaching environment. One of the best STEAM-related professional development books for teachers, this book also offers strategies and elements of connected learning to help learners connect STEAM in real-world issues. 

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead – Brene Brown

In Daring Greatly, Dr. Brown challenges everything we think we know about vulnerability. Based on twelve years of research, she argues that vulnerability is not weakness but rather our clearest path to courage, engagement, and meaningful connection. Understanding these concepts can help a teacher in teaching learners and with classroom management.

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything – Ken Robinson, Lou Aronica

The Element is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion. When people arrive at the Element, they feel most themselves and most inspired and achieve their highest levels. With a wry sense of humor, Ken Robinson looks at the conditions that enable us to find ourselves in the Element and those that stifle that possibility.

The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change – Adam Braun

The riveting New York Times bestseller is about a young man who built more than 250 schools worldwide—and the steps anyone can take to lead a successful and significant life. The Promise of a Pencil chronicles Braun’s journey to find his calling, as each chapter explains one clear step that every person can take to turn their most significant ambitions into reality. An inspiring book to add to the reading list of professional development books for teachers.

Epiphany: True Stories of Sudden Insight to Inspire, Encourage and Transform, – Elise Ballard

Have you ever experienced an epiphany, a life-changing moment, or a realization? Elise Ballard has, and she was so stunned by its effect on her life that she started asking others if they had ever experienced these kinds of breakthroughs.

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The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life – Chris Guillebeau

A remarkable book, the content, like his other books, will guide and inspire the teacher and students in the classroom. The Happiness of Pursuit reveals how anyone can bring meaning into their life by undertaking a quest. When he set out to visit all of the planet’s countries by age thirty-five, compulsive goal seeker Chris Guillebeau never imagined that his journey’s biggest revelation would be how many people like himself exist – each pursuing a challenging quest.

Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative – Ken Robinson

“It is often said that education and training are the keys to the future. They are, but a key can turn in two directions. Turn it one way, and you lock resources away, even from those they belong to. Turn it the other way, and you release resources and give people back to themselves.” Learning to be Creative is one of the best books for teachers to inspire learners and educators to think and act differently toward each other.

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are – Brene Brown

In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown, a leading expert on shame, authenticity, and belonging, shares ten guideposts on the power of Wholehearted living—a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.

Walking on Water: Reading, Writing and Revolution – Derrick Jensen

Remember the days of longing for the hands-on classroom clock to move faster? Most of us would say we love to learn, but we hated school. Why is that? This book addresses what happens to creativity and individuality as we pass through the educational system. How can we change our lesson planning to help students retain their love for learning?

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us – Daniel H. Pink

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. In this provocative and persuasive new book, he asserts that the secret to high performance and satisfaction at work, at school, and 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.

The Principal: Three Keys to Maximizing Impact – Michael Fullan

One of the best-known leadership authors in education, Fullan, explains why the answer isn’t in micro-managing instruction nor autonomous entrepreneurialism. He shows systematically how the principal’s role should change, demonstrating how it can be done in short order, at scale.

Flipping Leadership Doesn’t Mean Reinventing the Wheel – Peter M DeWitt

Part of The Corwin Connected Educator series, in this volume, you’ll use the principles of connectedness and flipped learning to engage stakeholders—teachers, administrators, and parents—digitally, so they’re ready for productive discussion when you meet in person.

Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator – Dave Burgess

Based on Dave Burgess’s popular “Outrageous Teaching” and “Teach Like a PIRATE” seminars, this development book offers inspiration, practical techniques, and innovative ideas that will help the teacher increase student engagement, boost your creativity and transform your life as an educator.

Also, see Fractus reviews of Play Like a Pirate and Explore Like a Pirate.

Leverage Leadership: A Practical Guide to Building Exceptional Schools – Paul Bambrick-Santoyo

One of the best professional development books for teachers on leadership, Paul Bambrick-Santoyo (Managing Director of Uncommon Schools), shows leaders how to raise their schools to greatness by following a core set of principles. These seven principles, or “levers,” allow for consistent, transformational, and replicable growth. With an intentional focus on these areas, leaders will leverage much more learning from the same amount of time investment.

Shifting the Monkey: The Art of Protecting Good People From Liars, Criers, and Other Slackers – Todd Whitaker

Poor employees get a disproportionate amount of attention. Why? Because they complain the loudest, create the greatest disruptions, and rely on others to assume the responsibilities they shirk. Learn how to focus on your good employees first and help them shift these monkeys back to the under-performers.

The Multiplier Effect: Tapping the Genius Inside Our Schools – Multiple Authors

Why do some leaders double their team’s effectiveness while others seem to drain the energy right out of the room? Using insights from more than 100 interviews with school leaders, this development book pinpoints the five disciplines that define how Multipliers bring out the best across their schools and classroom.

What Great Teachers Do Differently: 17 Things That Matter Most – Todd Whitaker

In the third edition of this renowned book, you will find pearls of wisdom, heartfelt advice, and inspiration from one of the nation’s leading authorities on staff motivation, teacher leadership, and principal effectiveness. With wit and understanding, Todd Whitaker describes the beliefs, behaviors, attitudes, and interactions of great teachers and explains what they do differently.

The Tech-Savvy Administrator: How do I use technology to be a better school leader? – Steven W. Anderson

How can school leaders use technology to be more effective? In this professional development book, award-winning blogger and educational technology expert Steven W. Anderson explain how and why leaders should use technology and outlines what should be in every leader’s digital toolkit.

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character – Paul Tough

How Children Succeed introduces us to a new generation of researchers and educators, who, for the first time, are using the tools of science to peel back the mysteries of character. Through their stories—and the stories of the children they are trying to help—Tough reveals how this new knowledge can transform young people’s lives inside and outside the classroom.

Mindsets in the Classroom: Building a Culture of Success and Student Achievement in Schools – Mary Cay Ricci

When students believe that dedication and hard work can change their performance in school, they grow to become resilient, successful students. Inspired by the popular mindset idea that hard work and effort can lead to student success, Mindsets in the Classroom provides educators with ideas for building a growth mindset school culture. Learners are challenged to change their thinking about their abilities and potential.

The Way of Mindful Education: Cultivating Well-Being in Teachers and Students – Daniel Rechtschaffen

With attention spans waning and stress on the rise, many teachers are looking for new ways to help students concentrate, learn, and thrive. The Way of Mindful Education is a practical guide for cultivating attention, compassion, and well-being in these students and mindfulness in teachers themselves.

The Way They Learn – Cynthia Ulrich Tobias

Draw out the best in your children—by understanding the way they learn. If you’re frustrated that your child isn’t learning the way you did, chances are they are too! In this practical resource, Cynthia Ulrich Tobias explains that understanding how you learn can make all the difference.

Why Don’t Students Like School: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom – Daniel T Willingham

Easy-to-apply, scientifically-based approaches for engaging students in the classroom. Cognitive scientist Dan Willingham focuses his acclaimed research on the biological and cognitive basis of learning. His professional development books will help teachers improve their practice by explaining how they and their students think and learn.

The Motivation Breakthrough: 6 Secrets to Turning On the Tuned-Out Child – Richard Lavoie

The Motivation Breakthrough explores proven techniques and strategies—based on six possible motivational styles—that will revolutionize the way teachers, and parents inspire kids with learning disabilities to succeed and achieve. Backed by decades of experience in the classroom, educator and acclaimed author Rick Lavoie explodes common myths and gives specific advice for motivating children with learning disabilities.

Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning – Peter C Brown

Drawing on cognitive psychology and other fields, Make It Stick offers techniques for becoming more productive learners and cautions against study habits and practice routines that turn out to be counterproductive. It’s one of those professional development books that speak to students, teachers, trainers, athletes, and all those interested in lifelong learning and self-improvement.

How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching – Multiple Authors

Distilling the research literature and translating the scientific approach into language relevant to college or university, this book for teachers introduces seven general principles of how students learn. The authors have drawn on research from a breadth of perspectives to identify a set of fundamental principles underlying learning, from how effective organization enhances retrieval and use of information to what impacts motivation.

Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning – John Hattie

Visible Learning for Teachers brings the results of more than fifteen years of research to an entirely new audience. Written for students, pre-service, and in-service teachers, it explains how to apply the principles of Visible Learning to any classroom anywhere in the world.

Design For How People Learn (Voices That Matter) – Julie Dirksen

Products, technologies, and workplaces change so quickly today that everyone is continually learning. Many of us are also teaching, even when it’s not in our job descriptions. Whether it’s giving a presentation, writing documentation, or creating a website or blog, we need and want to share our knowledge with other people.

Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools – Michael B Horn, Heather Staker

Blended is the practical field guide for implementing blended learning techniques in K-12 classrooms. Readers will find a step-by-step framework to build a more student-centered system, along with essential advice that provides the expertise necessary to make the next generation of K-12 learning environments.

The Relevant Educator: How Connectedness Empowers Learning – Tom D Whitby, Steven W. Anderson

This information-packed resource from digital experts Anderson and Whitby make it easy to build a thriving professional network using social media. Easy-to-implement ideas, essential tools, and real-life vignettes help a teacher learn to: Find and choose the best social media tools, products, and communities. Start and grow a collaborative, high-quality PLN using Twitter, blogging, LinkedIn, and more.

Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success – Carol Dweck

In decades of research on achievement and success, world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck has discovered a truly groundbreaking idea of 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.

School Culture Rewired: How to Define, Assess, and Transform It – Steve Gruenert, Todd Whitaker

Your school is a lot more than a center of student learning–it also represents a self-contained culture with traditions and expectations that reflect its unique mission and demographics. In this groundbreaking book for teachers, education experts Steve Gruenert and Todd Whitaker offer tools, strategies, and advice for defining, assessing, and ultimately transforming your school’s culture into one that is positive, forward-looking, and actively working to enrich students lives.

Shaping School Culture: Pitfalls, Paradoxes, and Promises – Terrence E Deal, Kent D Peterson

In this thoroughly revised and updated edition of their classic book, Shaping School Culture, Terrence Deal and Kent Peterson address the latest thinking on organizational culture and change. They offer new ideas and strategies on how stories, rituals, traditions, and cultural practices create positive, caring, and purposeful schools.

Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School – Andy Hargreaves, Michael Fullan

Winner of the 2015 Grawemeyer Award in Education! In this latest and most important collaboration, renowned educators Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan set out a groundbreaking new agenda to transform the future of teaching and public education.

Cultures Built to Last – DuFour Richard, Fullan Michael

Take your professional learning community to the next level! Discover a systemwide approach for re-envisioning your PLC while sustaining growth and continuing momentum on your journey. You’ll move beyond isolated pockets of excellence while allowing every person in your school system—from teachers and administrators to students—the opportunity to be an instrument of lasting cultural change.

The Six Secrets of Change: What the Best Leaders Do to Help Their Organizations Survive And Thrive – Michael Fullan

Successful organizations adjust quickly and intelligently to shifts in consumer tastes, political climate, and economic opportunity. How do they do it? The Six Secrets of Change explores essential lessons for business and public sector leaders for thriving in today’s complex environment.

Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World – Tony Wagner

In this groundbreaking book, education expert Tony Wagner provides a powerful rationale for developing an innovation-driven economy. He explores what parents, teachers, and employers must do to develop the capacities of young people to become innovators.

Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day – Jonathan Bergmann, Aaron Sams

It started with a simple observation: students need their teachers present to answer questions or provide help if they get stuck on an assignment; they don’t need their teachers to listen to a lecture or review content. From there, authors Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams began the flipped classroom – one of the best professional development books for a modern classroom.

Worlds of Making: Best Practices for Establishing a Makerspace for Your School – Laura Fleming

Get the nuts and bolts on imagining, planning, creating, and managing a cutting-edge Makerspace for your school community. Nationally recognized expert Laura Fleming provides all the answers. From inception through implementation, you’ll find invaluable guidance for creating a vibrant Makerspace on any budget.

Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners – Multiple Authors

Visible Thinking is a research-based approach to teaching thinking, a proven program for enhancing students’ thinking and comprehension abilities. Begun at Harvard’s Project Zero, the teaching way develops students’ thinking dispositions while at the same time deepening their understanding of the topics they study.

Total Participation Techniques: Making Every Student an Active Learner – Persida & William Himmele

Total Participation Techniques presents dozens of ways to engage K 12 students in active learning and allow them to demonstrate the depth of their knowledge and understanding. The book provides easy-to-use alternatives to the stand-and-deliver approach to teaching that causes many students to tune out–or even drop out.

Disrupting Class, Expanded Edition: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns – Multiple Authors

Filled with fascinating case studies, scientific findings, and unprecedented insights on how innovation must be managed, Disrupting Class will open your eyes to new possibilities, unlock hidden potential, and get you to think differently. Professor Christensen and his coauthors provide a bold new lesson in innovation that will help you make the grade for years to come.

Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding – Jay McTighe, Grant Wiggins

What are essential questions, and how do they differ from other kinds of questions? What’s so great about them? Why should a teacher design and use essential questions in your classroom? Essential questions help target standards as you organize curriculum content into coherent units that yield focused and thoughtful learning.

The Understanding by Design Guide Set (2 Books)– Grant Wiggins, Jay McTighe

Unit creation and planning made easy for Understanding by Design novices and veterans alike! Introduction to version 2.0 of the UbD Template is one of the most practical professional development books for teachers. It allows you to download fillable electronic forms to help you more easily incorporate standards, advance your understanding of backward design, and improve student learning.

Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty – Elizabeth F Barkley

Student Engagement Techniques is a comprehensive resource that offers college teachers a dynamic model for engaging students. It includes over one hundred tips, strategies, and techniques proven to help teachers from various disciplines and institutions motivate and connect with their students.

Reinventing Writing: The 9 Tools That Are Changing Writing, Teaching, and Learning Forever – Vicki Davis

In this much-anticipated book from acclaimed blogger Vicki Davis (Cool Cat Teacher), you’ll learn the key shifts in writing instruction necessary to move students forward in today’s world. Vicki’s book describes how the elements of traditional writing are being reinvented with cloud-based tools.

Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom – Sylvia Libow Martinez, Gary S Stager

There’s a technological and creative revolution underway. Excellent new tools, materials, and skills turn us all into makers. Using technology to make, repair or customize the things we need brings engineering, design, and computer science to the masses. Fortunately for educators, this maker movement overlaps with the natural inclinations of children and the power of learning by doing.

More Professional Development Books For Teachers Reading List

What are your best books for teachers? Leave your favorites in the comments below.

10 Comments

  1. This is a great list, and very current. I would add Debbie Silver’s Fall Down 7 Times, Get up 8: Teaching Kids to Succeed. It’s a wonderful blend of theory, practice and narrative.

  2. Another great book that was recently published and is a real self-training manual for language teachers is the book ‘Optimise your Teaching Competences: New Teaching Methodologies and CLIL Applications in Foreign Languages’. It contains innovative teaching methodologies and approaches as well as a wealth of teaching ideas for pair-work and group-work activities.

  3. Great list, but I would have liked to see some more critical works that can incite discussion about the systems and conditions of learning. For example, Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Pedagogy of Freedom, McLaren’s Life in Schools, hooks Teaching to Transgress, Kumashiro’s Bad Teacher and Against Common Sense. As teachers we need to engage in theory and practice to make our reflections more than just a practitioner’s work.

  4. Now many self help books are in the markets. But I couldnot understand why the readers are decrasing . I can’t say why the majority peoples hate books.

  5. I suggest to add “Clean Language in the Classroom” by Julie McCracken. It has been published a few days ago. I do like it very much and I think it has the power to change the methods of teaching in grammar schools. It is a book not only for teachers, but also a great source for inspiration to all kind of educators and to parents. I got a lot of ideas from it as a coach and trainer.

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