There are literally thousands of books out there on teaching and education. But there seems to be a timeless few that make a lasting impact. Here are 13 classic teacher professional books that stand the test of time, as recommended by the teachers on our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.
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1. The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher by Harry Wong, 1991
The quintessential guide to classroom management and teaching. It was by far, the most mentioned book in our survey. Practical, encouraging, and easy to implement advice that will help you start off on the right foot.
“My summer inspiration every year. Insights for new teachers and veterans.”—Kati O.
“I read it every August.”—Megan W.
“I just passed this one on to my sister for her first year.”—Krissie L.
2. How to Talk So Kids Can Learn by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, 1995
This classic communication guide is full of helpful, fun, and easy suggestions for behavior management and improving relationships with kids.
“This was assigned to us during student teaching in the ’90s and it definitely stands the test of time!”—Yasmin B.
“So helpful. It gives many examples of how to stop telling kids what to do, and listen to what they need to make better choices themselves.”—Christine Y.
3. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things by Robert Fulghum, 1986
Share everything. Play fair. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. These are but a few of the simple, yet oh, so profound bits of advice from author Robert Fulghum that have stood the time for over 30 years and resulted in the sale of over 7 million copies!
“This book really is what it’s all about.”—Val H.
“I truly believe the world would be a better place if we all went back and re-read this one.”—Liz M.
4. Teaching with Love and Logic: Taking Control of the Classroom by Jim Fay and David Funk, 1995
This book is filled with practical strategies and solutions to help you deal with the day-to-day frustrations and challenges of teaching. Down to earth and filled with straight talk combined with humor, this book puts teachers in control and teaches kids to think for themselves.
“My mentor teacher just gave me a copy and it’s a universal hit. Can’t wait to dive in.”—Tiffany T.
“One of the best, if not THE best, most humorous, most compassionate, most encouraging book for teachers out there.”—Valerie V.
5. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum, 1997
Originally published in 1997, this book is a timely primer on the psychology of racism. Essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the dynamics of race in our country and our schools.
“An excellent resource. I use this with my students and they always get a lot from it.”—L. Wilson
“Highly recommended read for anyone interested in issues of social justice, equal opportunity, democracy, and the psychological underpinnings of prejudice.”—Katherine Q.
6. Dimensions of Learning by Robert Marzano, 1992
This book takes a close look at the learning process and identifies five dimensions of thinking that are essential for learning, including having a positive attitude about learning and productive habits of mind. It provides an instructional framework that includes detailed training scripts, resources, and practical guidelines.
“Very old school, but solid.”—Wendy M.
“A realistic, readable, non technical approach to learning and how teachers can help students think better.”—M. Russo
7. Discipline with Dignity: How to Build Responsibility, Relationships, and Respect in Your Classroom by Richard Curwin 1988
Emphasizing the importance of mutual respect and self-control, this book provides specific strategies and techniques for building strong relationships with students, particularly those labeled as “hard to handle.”
“As a teacher it changed my whole view of the relationship I have with my students.”—Pat A.
“My mother passed this book down to me and it still holds true.” —Cheri M.
8. You Can’t Say You Can’t Play by Vivian Paley, 1992
An engaging and encouraging book that tackles the topics of exclusion and bias. A thoughtful read that will help you as you establish a kind and welcoming classroom culture.
“Brilliant work in inclusion in schools- stop bullying before it starts.”—C. Smith
“She (Paley) came to speak to my undergrad ECE cohort at Columbia College in Chicago. It was a very inspirational experience.”—Tiffany W.
9. Positive Discipline: The Classic Guide to Helping Children Develop Self-Discipline, Responsibility, Cooperation, and Problem-Solving Skill by Jane Nelsen, 1981
The key to positive discipline is not punishment but mutual respect. Originally published 25 years ago, this book has helped generations of teachers and parents learn to focus on solutions while being kind and firm while enriching their relationship with children.
“I just re-read it and it’s still great!”—Asa S.
“This is a book that can totally transform your relationship with a difficult child.”—Chandler A.
10. Black Teachers on Teaching by Michele Foster, 1998
Called an “honest and compelling account of the politics and philosophies involved in the education of black children during the last fifty years,” this book examines the history of black students and teachers in America. Talking with educators who taught through the firestorm of desegregation and taught in large urban cities, it’s an examination of the gains and losses for students of color and the challenges and rewards of teaching.
“I read this book in teacher training and think it would be a perfect choice to revisit, particularly during this era of Black Lives Matter.”—Jamie V.
“An eye opening and important book for not just teachers, but everyone.”— Jim F.
11. Mosaic of Thought: Teaching Comprehension in a Reader’s Workshop by Susan Zimmermann and Ellin Olive Keene, 1997
Keene and Zimmermann identify eight cognitive processes used by successful readers and lay out strategies that will help children become more flexible, engaged, and independent readers.
“This is an easy read, yet offers one of the best set of guidelines I’ve ever seen for teaching students that greatly needed skill of interacting with text.”—S.Cook
12. Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, 1998
This book talks about how understanding is different from knowledge and why it is an important teaching goal. It offers solid, research-based strategies focused on understanding that will help your students perform better.
“Definitely a must have for any educator.”—Abby C.
“Quite possibly one of the most enlightening education texts I have ever read.”—D. Bowers
13. Tools for Teaching by Fred Jones, 2000
Fred Jones’ classic book tackles the big three of student success: discipline, instruction, and motivation. The detailed examples and illustrations drive home the strategies that will help you move from managing your class to enjoying your class.
“A must-read for newbie teachers as well as teachers who need a little extra help managing student behavior.”—Vic P.
“Jones is hilarious. This book is funny and informative.”—A. Sweaney
What are your favorite classic teacher professional books? Come share in our WeAreTeachers Helpline group on Facebook.
Also, check out 11 Professional Books to Boost Your Online Teaching Game.