10 Books to Help You Combat Burnout and Remember Why You Love Teaching in the First Place

Time to fill your bucket!

books to survive teacher burnout

Teacher burnout is real. According to Psychology Today, it’s an actual epidemic. In a job that is incredibly demanding of your time and both physical and emotional energy, it’s easy to get discouraged and overwhelmed. That’s why it’s so important to take the time to refill your bucket with some reminders of why you got into this whole education business in the first place. Try one of these teacher-recommended books to survive teacher burnout … or maybe avoid it altogether.

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1. Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess

Books to survive teacher burnout.

Based on Dave Burgess’s series of seminars by the same name, this book will help to inspire your creativity. With innovative ideas and practical techniques, Burgess will get you to tap back into that passion you once had for teaching. We especially love his 170 brainstorming questions. 

2. What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World by Taylor Mali

Books to survive teacher burnout.

What Teachers Make is slam poet and former teacher Taylor Mali’s brilliant response to a dinner party guest’s snarky question, “What do you make?” He was, of course, referring to teacher salary, but let Mali remind you of what you really make—a difference.

3. Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56 by Rafe Esquith

Books to survive teacher burnout.

Do you want to revolutionize your teaching? Fifth-grade teacher Rafe Esquith takes “teach with a sense of urgency” to a new level. His New York Times bestseller tells the story of how he taught impoverished immigrant children in Los Angeles to understand Shakespeare, tackle algebra, and become happy students. 

4. The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life by Parker Palmer

Books to survive teacher burnout.

An oldie but goodie, Palmer’s The Courage to Teach has been helping teachers reignite their passion for over 20 years. If you’re losing heart, Palmer will help you reconnect with yourself, your students, your colleagues, and your vocation while bringing your authentic presence back to your classroom.

5. Awakened: Change Your Mindset to Transform Your Teaching by Angela Watson

We talk a lot about shifting students’ mindsets, but what about teachers? Watson’s book speaks to those of us who are disheartened by a lack of resources and support and emotionally drained by the daily struggles and pressures of teaching. It will empower you to develop a resilient and positive mindset.

6. 32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny: Life Lessons from Teaching by Phillip Done

32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny: Life Lessons from Teaching by [Done, Phillip]

Sometimes you just need a little feel-good read! With humor and wisdom, Phillip Done has written a series of delightful essays featuring the everyday antics of an elementary school classroom. If you’re feeling cynical, this book is the perfect antidote.

7. The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them by Erin Gruwell

The Freedom Writers Diary (Movie Tie-in Edition): How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them by [The Freedom Writers, Gruwell, Erin]

Remember the Hilary Swank movie by the same name? This is the book (and real-life story) that inspired it. If you’re starting to feel like your students are “unteachable,” this book will remind you of the power of hard work, determination, and love.

8. The Zen Teacher: Creating Focus, Simplicity, and Tranquility in the Classroom by Dan Tricarico

The Zen Teacher: Creating Focus, Simplicity, and Tranquility in the Classroom by [Tricarico, Dan]

Developing a Zen practice is all about slowing down, staying in the moment, and practicing simplicity to improve the quality of your life. This book will help you find balance—because when you’re at your best, you can give your best to the children in your care. 

9. Today I Made a Difference: A Collection of Inspirational Stories from America’s Top Educators by Joseph Underwood

These are the stories of each of the 2004 Disney Teacher of the Year honorees. It is a celebration of the profession and the fact that a teacher’s impact lasts a lifetime. These beautiful essays may be just the motivation you need to keep on keeping on.

10. What School Could Be: Insights and Inspiration from Teachers Across America by Ted Dintersmith

What School Could Be: Insights and Inspiration from Teachers across America by [Dintersmith, Ted]

In a rut? Channel your inner Emily Dickenson and dwell in the realm of possibility. When Ted Dintersmith crossed the country to visit schools in all 50 states, he found teachers doing extraordinary things against all odds. So the education revolution? It starts with you. 

Do you have one or more favorite books to help survive teacher burnout? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, check out 10 Books That Can Revolutionize Teaching Practice.

10 Books to Help You Combat Burnout and Remember Why You Love Teaching in the First Place

Posted by Kimmie Fink

Kimmie is an editor at WeAreTeachers. She has 13 years of classroom teaching experience and a master's degree in curriculum and instruction.

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