Professional Books to Motivate Your Teaching

Are you looking to renew your passion for teaching and motivate you to get started with a new school year? Check out these professional books that will leave you refreshed and ready to conquer the school year!
I don't know about you, but I LOVE to read professional books about teaching. You probably think that I am kidding, but I am not. There is something about reading about teaching that is really refreshing to me.

The bigger struggle for me is always finding time to read all the books that I want to. With this being said, I pulled together a list of seven professional books that I have read over and over again. Not only are these books motivating, but they continue to be resources that I return to over and over again.

Links in this post are Amazon affiliate links. This means that if you click and make a purchase Amazon gives me a little bit back, but it does not change the price that you pay. The money that Amazon gives me goes for the upkeep of this blog.

When I was trying to decide which books to include in this post as well as what order to put them in, I decided to go with the order in which I read them.

Setting Limits in the Classroom

This book was required reading for my very first education course in college and has been my best buddy ever since. I honestly reread it at least once a year, even years that I am not in the classroom. It is just that good. It is FULL of common sense actions to take in the classroom to build relationships with your students and have a healthy functioning classroom. I really cannot sing its praises high enough.

Positive Discipline in the Classroom

I grew up in an extremely strict household and held the belief that discipline had everything to do with punishment and negatives. That is until I really dove into this book, another required read for a college education course.

This book is the way that I learned to build a positive, interdependent classroom community from day one. It helped me to establish class meetings which began an absolutely integral part of our community and led to our classroom feeling much more like a family than a bunch of strangers thrown in together for a year. This meant that when struggles did arise we were able to handle them with dignity and love towards one another.

Who Moved My Cheese?

While this book is clearly not a strictly teaching book it is important to just being a human, especially if you are going to be an adult human. 

This book is all about change and accepting change rather than fighting it. As teachers we have to come to terms with change on a yearly, monthly, weekly, daily basis, and even at just a moment's notice. This book is a SUPER quick read, and another one that I have read over and over again when I need to be reminded to move with my own cheese.

Are you looking to renew your passion for teaching and motivate you to get started with a new school year? Check out these professional books that will leave you refreshed and ready to conquer the school year!AND because learning to deal with change is such an important lesson there is also a children's version of the book that I have enjoyed sharing with my students.

Kagan Cooperative Learning

The final book from my college days that motivates me to this day is Kagan Cooperative Learning. This is where my love affair with cooperative learning started, and it has never ended. This book has everything you need from rationale, to structures, to cooperative learning activities to get you started with cooperative learning. Soon you will be as in love with it as I am.

The truth is that there are so many nuances that go into cooperative learning that you may as well go straight to the source and get all the details.


Drive is another book that does not fall strictly into professional teaching books, but applies none the less! I first read this book because I had forgot a book for my flight and it was recommended in the overpriced airport book store. True story. 

It is all about motivation and I took home lessons about what motivates me as well as how I could work to motivate others around me, namely my students. While reading this one, keep an open mind as to how the different ideas can be used in your classroom and you are sure to come away motivated!

The Strategic Teacher

This last book on this list is the newest addition to my absolute must have and refer to all the time teaching books. It was recommended by Jennifer Gonzalez of Cult of Pedagogy at a conference last summer. If you are familiar with Jennifer and her blog or podcast you will jump all over this one. Everything she recommends is pretty much amazing. 

This book is chock full of twenty teaching strategies that you can use in your classroom pretty much as soon as you read them. They are all research proven and pack a whole lot of bang for their buck. I mean, aren't the most motivating professional books the ones you can apply right away?

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15 Pieces of Advice for New Teachers from Teachers

Are you new to the classroom this year? Check out the advice that real teachers want you to know before you get started to have your best, successful, and fun year in the classroom!
Whether you are fresh out of college, coming to teaching from another career, or are going back to teaching after some time away from the classroom I am willing to bet that the rumor mill has been swirling surrounding the world of teacher, and it isn't all positive.

In order to combat the negative teacher mentality I set out to ask teachers for what advice they would give a first year teacher. I posed the question on Facebook and as I knew would happen, teachers were ready to jump in with their best advice.

Teachers are amazing about helping one another out, and this was no different. While MANY teachers responded to the post there seemed to be a few themes that were touched on over and over again which I will highlight in this post. You can check out the whole original thread here. A huge thank you to all of you who responded!!

At the end of the day, while all of these items are amazing advice for someone just starting out, they are also great reminders for us each and every day of our teaching careers!

"Not to worry when you feel happens
to all of us!"

Overwhelmed is kind of a way of life for teachers, but it is a matter of how you harness this feeling and take care of business that will define you. My biggest recommendation would be to talk to a team mate when you are feeling overwhelmed. This accomplished a few things in that you get it out, find out if others are stressed about the same thing to gain perspective, and will most likely be offered support.

"Take care of yourself!"

This one is everything. If you are not the best you then you can't possibly be the best for your students as well. This means that sometimes you are going to have to put yourself first, say no to taking on more than you can handle, and relax a little bit.

"You will always have more to do than what you can get done, so don't stress over the unaccomplishable!"

The to do list for a teacher is infinite. Instead of becoming overwhelmed rank your list in order of importance and take care of what needs to be done first and be ready to let some of the other stuff go.

"Keep it simple! Less is more!"

In the world of Pinterest it is really easy to feel like you are not keeping up with other teachers, but I have news for you, your classroom does not have to be perfectly decorated in order to be inspiring. At the end of the day it is the substance of the classroom that matters so much more than the decor, so don't beat yourself up about not going all out on every item.

"Be flexible and value the support of experienced teachers."

No matter how well you have your day planned out it isn't going to happen. Something will come up or change and you have to move with it. The sooner that you can accept that flexibility is vital the better off you will be. 

Experienced teachers have been in your shoes, and often will feel like they still are. When I first entered the classroom I thought I had all the tools I needed to lead my students into the brave new world, but quickly got a slap across the face that is real world classrooms. Fortunately I had an amazing mentor, and great team that were there to dust me off, offer advice, and get me going again. Use and abuse advice from your teammates. If nothing else, two+ heads are always better than one!

"You will hate it. You will want to quite every day, but don't, because it truly is rewarding. Make sure your class rules/procedures are explained and understood during the first week of class."

Now, I hope that you won't want to quit every day or hate it, but I have certainly been there. I have even sat in a cubby while my students were at specials and balled my eyes out. At the end of the day though I do love teaching, and while I am not in the classroom right now, I will be again at some point. 

As far as procedures go, give up the first week of school to drill in on those procedures. You will have ample time to make up for it later when your classroom is running like a dream, and it will, because you took the time to establish norms from day one.

"Find your calm place in the middle of the storm."

At the end of the day you are the only one that can find your own zen. One of the biggest pieces of advice for remaining calm that I was ever given was to drop your voice when you are upset instead of raising your voice. I am telling you, it works wonders, plus you don't have to worry about your voice cracking out of anger.

"Be firm, but fair. Kids respect it."

Firm and fair is what it is all about. When you offer this to your students they respond with respect and allegiance. It does not matter if the rest of the school views you as the "strict" teacher, because your students know that when you take care of business you get to have fun, and that is what matters.

"Each day is a new day. Also, to be kind to yourself."

One of the best things about teaching is that you, and your students, get a fresh start each and every day. Seize this opportunity and treat each day as a new chance to make a difference in the world.

"Look for balance. Take care of yourself. Give yourself grace-you're going to make mistakes. Use them as learning opportunities, just like we want our students to do."

Life is about balance and teaching can make you quickly forget that, but you can't. You have to take the time to enjoy your family and life outside of school. It will make you a better teacher. 

Mistakes happen. They happen every day, and there are plenty of them to be made. Keep your head about you and work to correct mistakes when they happen. Be an example for your students, and don't be afraid to share your mistakes and how you are working to find a fix with them.

"Make sure your students always know they matter!"

After all, our students are what it is all about. If absolutely nothing else, every student should leave your classroom knowing that they matter and are cared for.

Are you new to the classroom this year? Check out the advice that real teachers want you to know before you get started to have your best, successful, and fun year in the classroom!

"Work smarter, not harder."

I have met so many teachers that make their lives so much more difficult than they need to be by not streamlining their processes. Teaching is a ton of work, don't make it harder than it needs to me. 

On this note, if your students can do it then they should. There is no reason why students can't do the things that keep your classroom running.

"Build a good rapport with your students ad most of them will do anything for you. Start out firm, fair, be consistent, then you can ease up."

Relationships are what make the world go round, and classrooms are no different. Take the time to get to know your students and let them get to know one another and you. When you build a true classroom community it is more like family, and it becomes easier to handle possible problems as they arise.

"You are not alone! Don't give up."

There are millions of teachers the world over that are ready and willing to help you when you need it. Reach out to a teammate, a friend, a blogger, or a teacher leader when you need it. Teaching can feel really lonely when you are the only adult in the room, but you are never truly along. If you are struggling reach out!

"If you make every decision with someone else in mind (students)  you will be just fine."

Our students are the end all and be all of our classrooms. When you focus your attention on them above all else you cannot go wrong. Thing of every decision that you make through the lens of what is best for your students, and you will rock as a teacher! 

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10 Things It's Time to Start Being Honest About

Why do teachers lie to themselves when the truth can go so much further? Check out these ten things it's time to start being honest about!

I Will Only Stay Late Today

Come on now, this is the lie that we all tell ourselves as we sit in our classrooms after the sun has faded cutting lamination and making lesson plans for the next day. 

I understand that late days happen, but why not keep them to a minimum. Your life does exist outside of school, and if it doesn't, it is time to create one. Instead of staying late all the time learn to say when enough is enough and go home. 

I Will Go to Bed Early Tonight

I tell myself every day that I will go to bed early. Early may mean different things to different people, but for me it is anytime before about 11 pm. On the rare occasion that this does happen I then tend to stay up, even though I am in bed, reading or playing on my tablet. Bad move. 

When you have the opportunity to bank some extra sleep hours take it! Lock in that extra rest and take full advantage of it. 

I Will Cook Every Night This Week

I always have the best of intentions when it comes to cooking. I go to the grocery store and get everything I need to cook healthy meals for myself and my family all week long, but by Tuesday there I am in the What-a-Burger drive through picking up a quick meal with absolutely zero shame. 

Instead, now I plan to make three meals a week. The meals that I choose make a ton so that there are leftovers for the other two days as well as lunches. I wish I could say this cut out drive throughs altogether, but it does at least minimize my ventures there to when I am craving fries instead of when I just can't pull myself together to make dinner. 

To those of you who dedicate an afternoon or evening to meal prep for the week I salute you, but it is not something I have ever successfully completed. 

I Will Make Time for Myself

First thing in the morning each day I wake up and say, if I get everything on the to do list done today then I will spend some time on me. Fast forward to pouring myself into midnight and I neither completed everything on my to do list nor did I do anything for myself. 

Instead put yourself on your to do list. Start small by treating yourself to an extra long hot shower at the end of the day to relax before going to bed. From there you can take advantage of putting you on the list. My favorite ways of making time for myself are taking time to read a for pleasure book, taking time for exercise, or taking a bath. 

I Will Workout Every Day

If you look at my calendar you would think that I workout every day, and during the summer this is mostly true, but even my best intentions fall apart when I get busy. Why is it that the one thing that works best for my health, sanity, and stress levels is the first thing to go?

Instead build in an exercise routine that you can stick to, and furthermore enjoy. There is no reason to dread working out when there are so many options for getting exercise. The most important thing is that you enjoy it and get in a good sweat.

I have found that one of the best ways to ensure that I exercise is through group classes. Whether I go with a friend or make friends once I am there peer pressure goes a long way to making sure I continue going. 

My Family Is Fine While I Work

It took me way too long to realize that my family cannot be placed on the back burner all of the time. They are my number one priority these days. This may mean that not everything for work gets done. It may even mean that nothing gets done some days. 

Here's the thing though, at the end of the day it is really our families that matter, especially if you have young kids. 

A special note: I do not personally have kids, and it was always a personal pet peeve of mine that some teachers with kids automatically assumed that those without kids would take care of the "extras" that tend to come up in the evenings at school. Just because my family does not include kids does not make my time with them any less valuable. 

I Will Only Eat Ten Skittles

I have a huge sweet tooth, so having any sort of candy around is dangerous for me. There was a time in my teaching career when I would keep a huge bag of Skittles in my desk and grab a handful at random intervals, of course when I wasn't being watched by students. This led to bad, bad things. 

Now when I choose to have a sweet snack I am very conscious to make a choice that limits my consumption. Can we say fun sized? This keeps my sweet tooth in check. 

One thing that I have started doing is when I crave something sweet I drink a glass of water first. If the craving is still there I go for it, but often the water takes care of it and keeps me on track. 

I Will Not Hit Snooze

Why do teachers lie to themselves when the truth can go so much further? Check out these ten things it's time to start being honest about!I am NOT a morning person, and even that is putting it mildly. If left to my own devices I would easily sleep until noon every day even if that meant pressing snooze seventy times. It is just how I am. 

Instead of hitting snooze nine gazillion times I try to set realistic expectations for myself in getting out of bed in the morning. I mean, does the snooze button really help any of us? I would love to be the person that gets up nice and early to take a leisurely run and then sip my cup of coffee before heading to work before rush hour begins. This just isn't me. Instead I fall out of bed at the last possible morning, and my only morning cardio is running to the car with my breakfast in hand to then sit in traffic. 

These days I set a reasonable alarm that will give me plenty of time to get up and get ready without having to do a hundred yard dash in record time, but still does not allow me to press snooze. 

I Am Fine

This is a lie that I have told myself on way too many occasions when I was anything but fine. Fine is what we tell ourselves when the ship is on fire and sinking rapidly. Fine is what we say when we don't want to tell someone how we are actually feeling. Fine is a lie. 

Stop the fine lie in its tracks and do something for yourself that will change the answer from fine to great, or better yet amazing. By taking the time to ensure your own "fineness" you are doing everyone around you a favor too. 

I Can Do It All 

This one is the lie of all lies. No one on Earth can do it all. Not one of us. If you look around and see someone who appears to be getting it all done I can guarantee you that there is some area of their life that is failing. 

At a certain point you have to know when enough is enough and stop. This will make you a happier teacher, a better person, and all around more awesome! 

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