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15 Of The Best Books For Teachers

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Christina M. Rau

Staff Writer

Christina M. Rau is the author of the sci-fi fem poetry collection, Liberating The Astronauts (Aqueduct Press, 2017), and the chapbooks WakeBreatheMove (Finishing Line Press, 2015) and For The Girls, I (Dancing Girl Press, 2014). In her non-writing life, she teaches yoga occasionally and line dances on other occasions.

Teaching is a heart-warming, challenging, nerve-wracking, constantly fluctuating profession. No one can truly understand what a classroom is like unless they become a teacher. Here are some of the best books for teachers that share the world of education. Some show challenges. Some argue for change. Some offer good advice. And some are simply for laughs.

Best Books for Teachers: Memoirs

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Educating Esmé: Diary of a Teacher’s First Year by Esmé Raji Codell

Esmé Raji Codell taught at a public school in Chicago. This book chronicles her first year of her teaching career. As a diary, it reveals her highs and lows. Highs include roller skating down the halls. Lows include having to face realities of gangs and parental abuse. Also, her preferred name is Madame Esmé, which is kind of unforgettable.

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Teacher Man by Frank McCourt

McCourt’s memoirs offer mesmerizing details of a multi-dimensional life. In this memoir, he recounts his 30-year teaching career. As most New York City teachers do, he experienced many unforgettable situations. He offers his failures and successes throughout the years and shows how they helped to shape his career as a writer.

Best Books for Teachers: Fiction

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Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman

This novel is set in a high school where your typical optimistic teacher runs into roadblocks set by a strict administration. The story unfolds through teachers, students, teachers, and the principal using memos, letters, and comments on assignments.

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Stand and Deliver by Nicholas Edwards

The movie Stand and Deliver features Academy Award nominee Edward James Olmos as high school math teacher Jaime Escalante. The book is based on the movie. How’s that for a change? The story shows how this hard-working and hopeful math teacher inspires his troubled students in Los Angeles.

Best Books for Teachers: Education as Social Justice

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This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education by José Luis Vilson

A math teacher shares essays and stories about education: Vilson offers his experiences from teaching and also as an educational leader. He found his leadership through blogging about the need for education reform. This book shows the need for rethinking how education can be equally available to all.

Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks

This book shows education as the a gift of freedom. A teacher’s goal in education should be to create an environment that celebrates diversity of culture and beliefs. In this book hooks discusses how teachers can deal with racism and sexism in a classroom to lead to freedom.

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We Want To Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom by Bettina L. Love

Here’s a book that insists education begins with lessons about making changes in community to stop racial violence and oppression. Education here is all about social engagement. These lessons are based on the “rebellious spirit and methods of abolitionists.”

Best Books for Teachers for Strategies

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

This book also fits into teacher views and teaching as social justice. It’s got it all, offering teaching techniques that work in challenging classrooms. Room 56 was a 5th grade classroom of first generation immigrants in a challenging area of Los Angeles, California. Esquith found ways to thrive as an educator. He starts with the basics mottos: Be Nice, Work Hard, and There Are No Shortcuts.

Book cover features photo of the author in a suit

Paper to Screen: The Future of Education by Prof. Vikas Singh PhD

COVID turned education upside down. Though online learning has been a part of education for decades, remote learning on a whim has not. This book provides simple, sound advice to teachers. It includes topics like finding which skills work best for an online environment and how to help students adapt to a new way of learning.

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Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager PhD

STEM and active learning are the focus of this book. It shows the parallels between children’s natural, curious desire to make stuff, and the world of engineering (AKA making stuff). The authors offer ideas ranging from simple to high-tech. Simple would be repurposing old toys. High-tech would be using a 3D printer.

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The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher by Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong

Here’s a book on classroom management at any level. From pre-K to higher ed, it offers ideas about structure and organization. It’s now in its fourth edition. As the world changes, so does the approach to education, so this manual offers updates to reach success. It comes with a DVD and companion website for more materials.

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Teach Like A Champion 2.0: 62 Techniques That Put Students on the Path to College by Doug Lemov

The title pretty much sums up this book. It details specific techniques teachers can use to tap into skills and talents their students have. Once discovered, students have a better chance at attaining their goals. This book is an updated version to the previous 49-technique guide. There’s a companion website with videos, too.

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How We Learn: Why Brains Learn Better Than Any Machine…For Now by Stanislas Dahaene

This one is science-y! In addition to focusing on teaching techniques, thinking about how the brain works is also helpful. This book is all about how the brain works kind of like a computer. (That makes sense—computers were made by humans with brains). Humans have biological cognitive skills and abilities to adapt in the way we can update machines. This book explains how all that works.

Best Books for Teachers When They Need A Laugh

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Non Campus Mentis: World History According to College Students by Anders Henriksson

Here’s a compilation of years of wrong answers written in piles of blue books about western civilization. In this book, they seem so right.

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F in Exams: Complete Failure Edition by Richard Benson

This book is a compilation of F In Exams, F for Effort, F this Test, and F in Exams: Pop Quiz. They all add up to a collection of the best wrong answers. Some answers are clever. Some are witty. And some are simply very, very wrong.

Hey, teachers, when you’re done grading papers and you’ve taken a well-deserved few days of not reading anything, these books are waiting to inspire you. You can find more of the best books for educators with best-selling authors who used to be educators and accessories for virtual teaching.