29 Must-Have Professional Development Books for Teachers


29 Must-Have Professional Development Books for Teachers

Summer is a time for recharging, but it can also be a time for professional development. The following is a list of books with the lifelong learner in mind. There’s a little something for everyone – books on classroom management, talking about race, improving literacy, teaching during the digital age, and more. Most professional development books are written with all grade levels and subject areas in mind, but the more targeted books have been noted in the descriptions. 

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1. The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity

by George Couros

The Innovator's Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity

Get it HERE.

Couros posits that students first enter schools curious and full of wonder. He suggests that traditional models of education, with scripted and scheduled curriculum, kill this natural innovative mindset students bring to school. Instead of valuing compliance, Couros writes, students should be taught to cultivate an innovative mind. In order to do this, educators must also become innovative thinkers – and this book shows you how. 

2. Teaching with Intention: Defining Beliefs, Aligning Practice, Taking Action, K-5 

by Debbie Miller

Professional development books for teachers: Teaching with Intention: Defining Beliefs, Aligning Practice, Taking Action, K-5

Get it HERE.

Author and teacher Debbie Miller believes that intentional, effective teaching can only occur when an educator has a strong set of intentional beliefs that outlines their education philosophy. In Teaching with Intention, the author shows readers how to deliberately define these beliefs and then how to align those beliefs with classroom instruction. 

3. Blending Genre, Altering Style: Writing Multigenre Papers

by Tom Romano

Professional development books for teachers: Blending Genre, Altering Style: Writing Multigenre Papers

Get it HERE.

Tom Romano is passionate about using multigenre papers, in which students demonstrate their knowledge of a subject by writing in multiple genres. He breaks down the process of writing such a paper with concrete instructions and examples that span from upper elementary to high school. The multigenre format is ideal for any teacher who assigns essays or research papers. 

4. Teaching When the World is on Fire

by Lisa Delpit

Teaching When the World Is on Fire

Get it HERE.

Delpit knows that tackling difficult topics in the classroom is, well, difficult. But, an effective educator can’t shy away from politics, current events such as Black Lives Matter, issues of sexual assault in the media, and more. These are part of the world we live in, and Delpit believes that an effective educator knows how to address these delicate topics in the classroom in a constructive way. She brings together the voices of experts and writes a book that can be used K-12.

5. An Urgency of Teachers: The Work of Critical Digital Pedagogy

by Jesse Stommel and Sean Michael Morris

An Urgency of Teachers: The Work of Critical Digital Pedagogy

Get it HERE.

This is a collection of essays in which the authors explore the world of online learning. Sometimes, it’s a critique of a system that turns a teacher into nothing more than a proctor. Sometimes, it’s an exploration into ways in which digital technologies can enhance our practices. 

6. Why They Can’t Write: Killing the Five-Paragraph Essay and Other Necessities

by John Warner

Why They Can't Write: Killing the Five-Paragraph Essay and Other Necessities

Get it HERE.

College writing teacher John Warner notes that, bluntly, today’s college kids cannot write. They can apply a formula like the five-paragraph essay but gone from their writing is the vigor and creativity and verve that should indicate a student grappling to communicate new knowledge. He includes a blueprint for fixing what he believes ails the system. 

7. Digital Citizenship in Action: Empowering Students to Engage in Online Communities

by Kristen Mattson

Digital Citizenship in Action: Empowering Students to Engage in Online Communities

Get it HERE.

In Digital Citizenship, Mattson writes that the most powerful aspect of digital learning of often overlooked – that of the community it can help build. She encourages educators to leverage today’s modern technology to teach social justice and work toward equity.

8. unSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation

by Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson

unSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation

Get it HERE.

While this is not strictly a professional development book for teachers, unSpun is nevertheless essential reading. In it, the creators of FactCheck.org teach readers how to separate out fact from fiction, how to identify misinformation on the internet. In an era when we will be returning to school amidst a presidential election and a pandemic, unSpun is a helpful classroom tool.

9. Teach Like a PIRATE: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator

by Dave Burgess

Professional development books for teachesr: Teach Like a PIRATE: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator

Get it HERE.

While there isn’t the swashbuckling that could be expected from the title (PIRATE is an acronym), Burgess walks readers through his teaching methods. Burgess, who was a high school social studies teacher before becoming a full-time education speaker, writes his book like a motivational speech. There are lots to “pump you up,” along with some ideas for teaching hooks, and brainstorming ideas to help boost your creativity. Secondary ELA, social studies, and foreign language teachers will get the most out of this book. 

10. For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood … and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education

by Christopher Emdin

For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood ... and the Rest of Y'all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education

Get it HERE.

Christopher Emdin writes first about his experience growing up as a young person of color. He writes about how he felt invisible in his schools. Then, he applies this perspective plus decades of award-winning teaching and gives readers practical advice about how to teach in urban schools. 

11. Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students

by Zaretta Hammond

Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students

Get it HERE.

In Culturally Responsive Teaching & The Brain, author Zaretta Hammond applies neuroscientific research to the concept of culturally responsive teaching. She includes ten “key moves” for teachers to make to help students in today’s culturally diverse classrooms. 

12. Vintage Innovation: Leveraging Retro Tools and Classic Ideas to Design Deeper Learning Experiences

by John Spencer

Vintage Innovation: Leveraging Retro Tools and Classic Ideas to Design Deeper Learning Experiences

Get it HERE.

This book defines innovation as “better as different” as opposed to “new and flashy.” The author makes a clear case that teachers should compose their toolkits from teaching strategies that work, whether those strategies are vintage or cutting-edge. He shows teachers how to field test new strategies, too. 

13. An Educators Guide to STEAM

by Cassie Quigley and Danielle Herro

An Educator's Guide to STEAM

Get it HERE.

This book is geared toward K-8 classrooms and examines the world of STEAM (as opposed to STEM). The authors include ample examples of STEAM at work in the classroom and include the perspective of many experts in the field. 

14. 180 Days: Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents

by Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher

180 Days: Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents

Get it HERE.

Gallagher and Kittle are both award-winning, veteran language arts teachers, but they teach in dramatically different schools. Gallagher teaches in California; Kittle in New Hampshire. They collaborate for a year to find the best literacy practices that work for all students. This book is the result of the year of collaboration. 

15. Cultivating Genius

by Gholdy Muhammad

Professional development books for teachers: Cultivating Genius

Get it HERE.

Muhammad approaches literacy from an equity lens, applying a framework she calls Historically Responsive Literacy. She writes about the ways in which an equitable education benefits all students, not just those who are marginalized. It spans grade levels and is ideal for any teacher interested in equity. 

16. Fostering Resilient Learners: A Trauma-Sensitive Classroom

by Kristin Souers and Pete Hall

Fostering Resilient Learners: A Trauma-Sensitive Classroom

Get it HERE.

New research has emerged this decade showing the profound impact trauma has on both social-emotional well-being and learning. The authors of this book show teachers – across grade levels and content areas – how to foster a trauma-sensitive learning environment. 

17. If You Don’t Feed the Teachers They Eat the Students

by Neila A. Connors

If You Don’t Feed the Teachers They Eat the Students

Get it HERE.

If you’re an administrator or school leader, this is the book for you. It’s certainly on the lighter side of professional development, but it offers school principals suggestions for making sure their teachers feel appreciated.

18. Not Light But Fire: How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations in the Classroom

by Mathew R. Kay

Not Light But Fire: How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations in the Classroom

Get it HERE.

After this summer’s sweeping cultural change brought about by Black Lives Matter activists, conversations about race will (and should) come up in classrooms of all levels. Mathew R. Kay guides educators through these sometimes-tough conversations.

19. Make or Break Year: Solving the Dropout Crisis One Ninth Grader at a Time

by Emily Krone Phillips

Make or Break Year: Solving the Dropout Crisis One Ninth Grader at a Time

Get it HERE.

Phillips writes that more than one F during freshmen year dramatically increases a student’s chances of dropping out. In this book, the author looks at how one school in Chicago – Hancock High School – restructured itself to help freshmen navigate the oft-tumultuous first year of high school. The school saw major decreases in dropouts and influenced school structure around the country. 

20. Better Than Carrots or Sticks: Restorative Practices for Positive Classroom Management

by Dominique Smith, Douglas Fisher, and Nancy Frey

Better Than Carrots or Sticks: Restorative Practices for Positive Classroom Management

Get it HERE.

Research supports the effectiveness of classroom management that teaches students to recognize and correct their behavior, a practice known as restorative classroom management. In this book, the authors examine the research and demonstrate how it is more effective over time than the usual positive/negative reinforcement model most teachers learned to employ. 

21. The First Days of School

by Harry Wong and Rosemary T. Wong

Teacher professional development books: The First Days of School

Get it HERE

The First Days of School is a classic that could be worth revisiting this summer in preparation for the fall. In this book, the authors make an argument that good classroom management depends not on discipline but on teaching structure and routine at the beginning of the year. Due to COVID-19, many of our routines will change and students will need to be taught new expectations. The First Days of School can help. 

22. I Wish My Teacher Knew: How One Question Can Change Everything for Our Kids

by Kyle Schwartz

I Wish My Teacher Knew: How One Question Can Change Everything for Our Kids

Get it HERE.

Third-grade teacher Kyle Schwartz stumbled across one question that changed the way she teaches – she asked her students to fill in the blank: “I wish my teacher knew __________.” She was shocked at the insight she gained, and immediately the hashtag #IWishMyTeacherKnew was born. 

23. Happy Teachers Change the World: A Guide for Cultivating Mindfulness in Education

by Thich Nhat Hanh and Katherine Weare

Happy Teachers Change the World: A Guide for Cultivating Mindfulness in Education

Get it HERE.

Basic practices taught by Thich Nhat Hanh are enumerated here and applied to classrooms. This book spans the gamut from preschool to higher education. It starts with the idea that teachers must first establish their own mindfulness practice to then cultivate mindfulness in their students. 

24. The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child

by Donalyn Miller

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child

Get it HERE.

Donalyn Miller writes a handbook to help middle school teachers turn their students into voracious readers. She offers practical tips and many examples from her own experience. Her follow-up book Reading in the Wild is equally worth picking up.

25. Write Beside Them: Risk, Voice, and Clarity in High School Writing

by Penny Kittle 

Write Beside Them: Risk, Voice, and Clarity in High School Writing

Get it HERE.

Penny Kittle breaks down how she teaches, assigns, and grades writing using a portfolio model. The backbone of her teaching practice is the fact that she writes with her students, using her own writing to model the revision process. 

26. Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters

by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst

Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters

Get it HERE.

In Disrupting Thinking, the authors examine why students often check out of reading assignments. They suggest this has to do with the fact that educators have misrepresented the way we use reading in our own lives. They present hands-on ideas that can be used to increase student engagement in literacy across grade levels and subject areas. 

27. The New Art and Science of Teaching

by Robert Marzano

The New Art and Science of Teaching

Get it HERE.

Teachers may be familiar with Marzano’s The Art and Science of Teaching, which focuses on teacher outcomes. This new version contains 50 “new strategies for instructional success” designed to improve student outcomes in the classroom. He defines three instructional principles to optimize student learning: first, students must have their basic needs met. Then, students must receive meaningful feedback that follows masterful content instruction. 

28. Raising the Rigor

by Eileen Depka

Professional development books for teahers: Raising the Rigor

Get it HERE.

This is a book about questioning techniques. The author shows teachers how to use questioning to differentiate instruction in order to respond to the diverse needs of our students. She uses many examples to illustrate her main ideas and includes checklists, surveys, and templates for immediate classroom use. 

29. How to Differentiate Instruction in Academically Diverse Classrooms

by Carol Ann Tomlinson

How to Differentiate Instruction in Academically Diverse Classrooms

Get it HERE.

Differentiated instruction recognizes that students learn in different ways at different rates. As today’s classrooms become more diverse, differentiated instruction is more important than ever. This book is a practical guide to how to implement this philosophy in the classroom. 

Other Books From Amy’s Bookshelf You’ll Love:

29 Must-Have Professional Development Books for Teachers

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AuthorAmy

Legend

I am an unrepentant lover of words - and lucky me, I spend all day, every day immersed in them. When I'm not teaching, I'm reading. Or writing. Or teaching eager (and sometimes not-so-eager) adolescents about the power of the written word. I live on the scenic Oregon Coast with my dog, two cats, and five-year-old son.

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