When it comes to career and professional growth, your local bookstore is the best place for some much needed insight, inspiration and perspective. But, instead of always heading straight to the education section, we recommend browsing business books too. Books that tackle leadership, teamwork and creativity are treasure troves of advice. And, all can easily be applied to your teaching life. We’ve compiled eight of the best business books for teachers. Some you can read in one sitting, others you can flip through when you need them the most. But, all offer new techniques and principles to help you navigate your career thoughtfully, purposefully and with passion!
1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Main takeaways: This classic, released in 1937, stands the test of time. There’s always a need to understand human nature. Carnegie goes deep, offering tips on making others feel important plus why that elevates your professional and personal endeavors.
Why it’s great for teachers: All day long, you’re job revolves around effectively communicating with students, parents, fellow teachers and the administration. It can be overwhelming to manage expectations and make everyone feel heard. This book coaches you on winning everyone over without draining yourself.
2. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Main takeaways: Why do some succeed while others never reach their potential? Gladwell’s theory? No one is naturally talented. But, if you’re willing to put in the time and energy, you’ll accomplish almost anything.
Why it’s great for teachers: Maybe teaching doesn’t come naturally to you? Perhaps you feel it takes twice as long as your colleagues to pull together lesson plans or learn a new technique. Or, maybe teaching isn’t challenging enough and you want to up the ante? Outliers challenges you—and the students you teach—to still go for what you want, even if you’re struggling.
3. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Main takeaways: The way the human mind works is fascinating. Everyone processes and reacts to things differently—but why? And, how will understanding that help us? Kahneman breaks down the psychological basis for our reactions, judgments, recognition, choices, conclusions, and more.
Why it’s great for teachers: This is a great resource to help you understand why you should be open-minded to new ideas—you just never know what’s truly worth exploring—especially when it comes from your students.
4. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
Main takeaways: If someone asks what you do for a living, it’s one of the easiest questions to answer. But being asked WHY you’re a teacher or WHY you chose a particular lesson plan for the week ahead? Not so easy, right? This fascinating book looks at the world’s most influential leaders. Sinek dubs them, “The Golden Circle” and says they’re success came from starting with,”Why?”
Why it’s great for teachers: Sharing with your students why they need to learn about, say, World War II and why you’ve chosen a particular way to teach it ensures that you’re going to resonate with them for years to come.
5. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck
Main takeaways: Our achievements and our successes don’t just come from our talents and abilities. Dweck believes it boils down to whether you have a fixed or growth mindset. And, not to worry, you can change a fixed mindset and see big change.
Why it’s great for teachers: Do you ever think that you’ll be stuck at the same school, teaching the same subject with the same lesson plans until you retire? Would you rather work at a new magnet school or propose a new program that you’d like to run to your principal? What’s stopping you? If it’s negative and limiting thoughts—this book implores you to change. Have students that are doubting themselves and their potential? Use this book to empower them to change too.
6. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink
Main takeaways: What makes you feel better about the job you’re doing: constant rewards, like a pizza lunch OR knowing you’re trusted? This book explains that to get the best out of people, rewards are futile if you don’t have autonomy, mastery and purpose.
Why it’s great for teachers: If you’re feeling stifled, figure out what you need to get your mojo back and go after it. It’s also a great reminder to loosen the reins and give you students opportunities to be independent.
7. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life By Jen Sincero
Main takeaways: Basically, if you’re not getting what you want out of your life/career—the culprit is most likely YOU. This book is your own personal life coach, cheering you on to change what you can and embrace the things you can’t.
Why it’s great for teachers: If you’re feeling stuck or unhappy, your students are likely picking up on it. So, while fixing your life and career—why not inject some of that “can do” mindset within your classroom too?
8. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
Main takeaways: From being proactive to finding your voice (and helping others find theirs too), mastering these seven habits helps you fix anything—personally and professionally—that needs improving.
Why it’s great for teachers: Being an effective teacher and colleague is what we all strive for. Yet learning these habits take practice. Use the book as a workbook—it should be marked up with notes and dogeared pages if you really want to get the most out of it.
Do you enjoy reading business books? Are there any that you would especially recommend for teachers? Please share in the comments.