5 Incredible Professional Development Books for Teachers

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A teacher’s professional development is often the key to progressing in their career, better managing their classes, and even keeping their sanity.  Unfortunately, not all schools and administrations are set up to support a teacher that’s focused on improving themselves and their methods.

This is where professional books for teachers come on – these are 5 of the best resources for educators looking to improve how they do things and most of these have spent years on other teachers’ shelves, dog-eared from regular use and reference.

Similar to our list of classroom management books, the following recommendations are not a one-stop-shop, they are best used gradually and consistently and will hopefully shape your teaching style for years to come.

The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education

Former assistant secretary of education Diane Ravitch speaks out passionately about issues that need to be addressed within school systems across the nation. Going against the grain, her ideas conflict with the more traditional views she herself used to advocate for. In her book, she critiques the education systems approach to restructuring schools, standardized testing, punitive accountability, and the multiplication of charter schools. Ravitch then provides easy to follow solutions to the problems she speaks of, aiming to change the education curriculum throughout the nation.

What we like:

Ravitch is relentless in her pursuit of what she believes will transform the education system for the better. She speaks for the teachers, students, and parents that are a part of it.

Who is it for?

This book is for the teacher looking to gain inspiration for radical change within the school system or any policymaker of education.

Positive Classroom Discipline by Fredric H. Jones


Positive Classroom discipline is all about implementing practical techniques in the classroom that create a healthy space for teachers to practice disciplinary management. This book is anything but fluff and uses behavioral and social sciences with over a decade of work within the field to back its claims. It provides you with a systematic approach to discipline management by joining skill and procedure that create the guide to practice. You can expect to learn theory, practice, and values you can implement in the classroom as soon as you feel ready.

What we like:

A teacher can run the classroom, or the classroom can run the teacher. Discipline makes all the difference and this book makes it easy for any teacher to find their voice and take control of the class without having to get assistance from administration. In fact, some of the techniques to implement better discipline within the class will even go unnoticed by the students. No muss no fuss- a must read!

Who is it for?

This book is perfect for the teacher looking for practical steps to follow in order to implement more discipline within the classroom.

Teaching with Your Mouth Shut by Donald L. Finkel


In each chapter of Teaching With Your Mouth Shut Donald Finkel provides a case study, story, or instance of a teaching situation that facilitates significant learning with students. There are concrete examples and activities for teachers to easily apply to their students. He has a democratic approach to teaching and believes that the teacher who barks orders at the front of the classroom is doing his/her student’s a great disservice. He seeks to remedy that disservice through the proposal of an alternate view of teaching. One that is about more than the transference of ideas.

What we like:

This book is not intended to be a manual. It is intended to make teachers think more carefully about the way they approach their students in the classroom. Written in a way that promotes reflection, it has the potential to radically change the way teachers instruct their students and is full of ideas to try with students.

Who is it for?

A new teacher or veteran teacher can benefit from reading this book. It will open the mind to more possibilities and facilitate a more creative approach to teaching.

Horace’s Compromise by Theodore R. Sizer


Theodore calls for a complete reform of the education system in this book, addressing movements that aim to create smaller classes and better-educated students. His mission is to eradicate what he considers mindless testing, rushing students through their work, and overworked teachers. There are interviews with students, teachers, and administrators to provide the reader with concrete information. It was published in 1984 but the arguments being made are unfortunately still relevant today. This book will not only create awareness about the changes that need to be made to better the curriculum followed by most schools, it offers solutions to those problems that can be easily followed and make big changes.

What we like:

Sizer has worked in some of the best colleges and high schools in America and has a great feel for the school system. His motivation to improve the lives of both teachers and students is unwavering and will leave you inspired to be a force for change.

Who is it for?

This book is great for a teacher at any level. Especially a must-read for one thinking of or actively pursuing a career in education.

A Reason to Teach


A Reason to Teach is about bringing democratic teaching into the classroom. Beane makes a compelling argument as to why teachers should be choosing this democratic approach and then show how to implement it with a wide variety of practical resources including student involvement in planning and reviewing their work, infusing social issues into classroom content, collaborative activities, arranging projects, and building classroom communities. Given in the book are real examples of these techniques and their ability to work wonders within the school system. There is an emphasis on giving students choice, encouraging participation, and critical thinking.

What we like:

James Beane will make you believe in better and provide you with the practical steps to get there. It is realistic, easy for anyone to read, and applicable to any grade level.

Who is it for?

This book is for any educator that is concerned with the challenges coming from the more conservative movements in education.

Did we miss any?

Our goal is for this list to be a perpetual work in progress – please let us know if you’d like to see any professional development books added!

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