20 books by teachers, for teachers to inspire your teaching

When teachers share their life's work with other teachers, students and schools flourish. Here are 20 books for teachers, by teachers. (Image by Matt Miller)

When teachers share their life’s work with other teachers, students and schools flourish. Here are 20 books for teachers, by teachers. (Image by Matt Miller)

I wrote my book, Ditch That Textbook, in 2014 and it was published in spring 2015.

When that book was published, I didn’t realize that I would be part of a huge movement to equip and empower teachers.

My book was published by Dave Burgess Consulting, led by Dave and Shelley Burgess. Dave wrote Teach Like a PIRATE, the New York Times best seller about infusing the classroom with creativity and passion.

The success that Dave had with that book led him and Shelley, his wife and business partner, to consider this:

What if we could help other educators to spread their powerful messages in a similar way, impacting education along the way?

With that decision, Dave and Shelley became a publishing company of two, operating out of their home. They did the same things the big publishers did — recruiting authors, publishing quality books, marketing that work, influencing education.

The result has been something I’m immensely proud to be a part of and something I love to talk about. I’m sharing this with you because these books:

  • are written by teachers — practitioners in the field of education
  • are practical, with ideas you can implement in your own classroom
  • are immensely readable, written in the authors’ own unique voices
  • are inspiring, providing the fire you need to teach passionately day by day

If you haven’t seen this suite of education books, it’s worth checking out. I’ll bet there’s something you can find to inspire and equip you!

tlap-book1. Teach Like a PIRATE: This book is part inspirational manifesto that ignites passion for the profession and part practical road map filled with dynamic strategies to dramatically increase student engagement. Teach Like a PIRATE’s message resonates with educators who want to design outrageously creative lessons and transform school into a life-changing experience for students.

pure-genius-book2. Pure Genius: Author Don Wettrick explains how collaboration—with experts, students, and other educators—can help you create interesting, and even life-changing opportunities for learning. Wettrick’s book inspires and equips educators with a systematic blueprint for teaching innovation in any school.

p-is-for-pirate-cover3. P is for PIRATE: Husband and wife team Dave and Shelley Burgess encourage and inspire educators to make their classrooms fun and exciting places to learn. Tapping into years of personal experience, and drawing on the insights of more than 70 educators, the authors offer a wealth of ideas for making learning and teaching more fulfilling than ever before.

llap-cover4. Learn Like a PIRATE: Author Paul Solarz explains how to design classroom experiences that encourage students to take risks and explore their passions in a stimulating, motivating, and supportive environment where improvement, rather than grades, is the focus. Discover how student-led classrooms help students thrive and develop into self-directed, confident citizens.

dtt-front-cover5. Ditch That Textbook: Author Matt Miller encourages educators to throw out meaningless, pedestrian teaching and learning practices. It empowers them to evolve and improve on old, standard teaching methods. Ditch That Textbook is a support system, toolbox, and manifesto to help educators free their teaching and revolutionize their classrooms.

50-things-google-classroom6. 50 Things You Can Do with Google Classroom: Authors Alice Keeler and Libbi Miller shorten the tech integration learning curve by providing a thorough overview of the Google Classroom app. Complete with screenshots, this book provides ideas and step-by-step instruction to help teachers encourage student collaboration, seamlessly use other Google tools, such as Google Docs, provide timely feedback to students and more.

50-things-further7. 50 Things to Go Further with Google Classroom: This book helps you take Google Classroom further with 50 more tips. This book helps you consider ways to start moving towards a more student-centered approach to teaching and learning.

zen-teacher-cover8. The Zen Teacher: Author Dan Tricarico provides practical, easy-to-use techniques to help teachers be their best—unrushed and fully focused—so they can maximize their performance and improve their quality of life. In this introductory guide, Dan Tricarico explains what it means to develop a Zen practice—something that has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with your ability to thrive in the classroom.

master-the-media9. Master the Media: Author Julie Smith explains that we have more choices and more control than ever over what we watch, listen to and read. With that control comes a heightened level of responsibility to think critically about the content we consume. Written to help teachers and parents educate the next generation, Master the Media explains the history, purpose, and messages behind the media.

innovators-mindset-cover10. The Innovator’s Mindset: Author George Couros encourages teachers and administrators to empower their learners to wonder, to explore—and to become forward-thinking leaders.  The Innovator’s Mindset includes practical suggestions for unleashing your students’ and teachers’ talent. You’ll also read encouraging accounts of leaders and learners who are innovating “inside the box.”

explore-like-a-pirate-311. Explore Like a PIRATE: Set sail with classroom game designer and educator Michael Matera as he reveals the possibilities and power of game-based learning. In Explore Like a PIRATE, Matera serves as your experienced guide to help you apply the most motivational techniques of gameplay to your classroom using strategies that work with and enhance (rather than replace) your current curriculum.

play-like-a-pirate12. Play Like a PIRATE: Using tools they love – LEGO, Hot Wheels, action figures, Barbie, superheroes, and games – author Quinn Rollins will help you make connections to your curriculum, bringing some fun back into your classroom. Rollins shares both big ideas and practical strategies for how to use toys, games, and comics to engage your students.

your-school-rocks-so-tell-people13. Your School Rocks … So Tell People!: Authors Ryan McLane and Eric Lowe offer more than 70 immediately actionable tips along with easy-to-follow instructions and links to video tutorials to get the word out about great things happening in your school. This practical guide will equip you to create an effective and manageable communication strategy using social media tools.

140-twitter14. 140 Twitter Tips for Educators: Authors Brad Currie, Billy Krakower, and Scott Rocco offer step-by-step instructions to help you master the basics of Twitter, build an online following, and become a Twitter rock star. Whatever questions you have about education or about how you can be even better at your job, you’ll find ideas, resources, and a vibrant network of professionals ready to help you on Twitter.

classroom-chef15. The Classroom Chef: Authors John Stevens and Matt Vaudrey share their secret recipes, ingredients, and tips for serving up lessons that engage students and help them “get” math. You can use these ideas and methods as-is, or better yet, tweak them and create your own enticing educational meals. The message the authors share is that, with imagination and preparation, every teacher can be a Classroom Chef.

launch-flat-copy16. Launch: Authors John Spencer and A.J. Juliani know firsthand the challenges teachers face every day: School can be busy. Materials can be scarce. The creative process can seem confusing. Curriculum requirements can feel limiting. Those challenges too often bully creativity, pushing it to the side as an “enrichment activity” that gets put off or squeezed into the tiniest time block.

kids-deserve-it17. Kids Deserve It!: Authors Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome encourage you to think big and make learning fun and meaningful for students. While you’re at it, you just might rediscover why you became an educator in the first place. Discover ways to promote family interaction and improve relationships for kids at school and at home. Be inspired to take risks, shake up the status quo, and be a champion for your students.

writing-classroom-wall18. The Writing on the Classroom Wall: Author Steve Wyborney explains how posting and discussing Big Ideas can lead to deeper learning. You’ll learn why sharing your ideas will sharpen and refine them. You’ll also be encouraged to know that the Big Ideas you share don’t have to be profound to make a profound impact on learning.

instant-relevance19. Instant Relevance: Author Denis Sheeran equips you to create engaging lessons from experiences and events that matter to your students. Learn how to help your students see meaningful connections between the real word and what they learn in the classroom—because that’s when learning sticks.

how-much-water20. How Much Water Do We Have?: Author Pete Nunweiler identifies five key elements that are necessary for the success of any goal, life transition, or challenge. He calls these elements the 5 Waters of Success, and like the water we drink, we need them to thrive in today’s rapidly paced world.

Question: Which of these books resonates with you most? If you’ve read one (or more), share your experience … or suggest another book! You can leave a comment by clicking here.

For notifications of new Ditch That Textbook content and helpful links:

Interested in having Matt present at your event or school? Contact him by e-mail!

Matt is scheduled to present at the following upcoming events:

  Date Event / Event Details City / More Info
+ 02/08/2017—02/09/2017
TCEA Austin, TX
  Venue:Austin Convention Center
Austin, TX
Public Event
+ 02/21/2017
8:00am-4:00pm
Magnet Programs Professional Development Conference Bel Aire, KS
   Private Event
+ 02/03/2017
8:00am-3:00pm
GoogleFest Eureka, Montana
   Public Event
+ 03/13/2017
8:00am-3:00pm
Bishop Dwenger High School Fort Wayne, IN
   Private Event
+ 03/16/2017—03/17/2017
MACUL Detroit, Michigan
  Sponsor:MACULPublic Event
+ 04/03/2017—04/04/2017
TeachTechPlay Melbourne, Australia
   Public Event
+ 05/05/2017
9:00am-3:30pm
Ecorse Public Schools Ecorse, MI
   Private Event
+ 05/06/2017—05/07/2016
CUEBOLD Lafayette, CA
  Venue:Burton Valley Elementary School
561 Merriewood Dr,
Lafayette, CA 94549
Public Event
+ 05/20/2017
8:00am-3:00pm
TXGoo17 Klein, TX
   Public Event
+ 05/31/2017
8:00am-3:00pm
Summer Technology Institute Norfolk, NE
   Public Event
+ 06/07/2017
8:00am-3:00pm
Innovation Institute Springdale, Arkansas
   Public Event
+ 06/15/2017
8:00am-3:00pm
Whatever It Takes Conference Galesburg, IL
+ 07/25/2017—07/26/2017
Roughrider Education Services Program Dickinson, ND
   Private Event
+ 08/14/2017
8:00 am- 3:00pm
Center ISD Center ISD
   Private Event
+ 09/16/2017
9:00am-4:00pm
Indiana State Reading Association Noblesville, IN
  Venue:Noblesville High School
18111 Cumberland Road
Noblesville, IN
Public Event

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10 thoughts on “20 books by teachers, for teachers to inspire your teaching

  1. I am interested in Play Like A Pirate. Can someone tell me if the ideas in the book are for early elementary or is it for older ages? What age group is the book geared toward teaching?

    • Hi Mandi,

      I’m the author of Play Like a Pirate, and my goal was to reach as many grades as possible. Most of the strategies are designed for, and examples pulled from, grades 4-8, but I used as many examples as possible for K-3 and 9-12 as well. I’m a middle school teacher myself, so that’s where most of my practical experience is…but there’s a lot in there for earlier grades too. If you check out some of my blog posts at http://www.quinnrollins.com you might get an idea for the kinds of strategies and flavor of the book.

      If you have any other questions, let me know, I’d be happy to help.

      Quinn

  2. Great list, Matt! I have seen my career take a GIANT leap forward as I have begun reading several of these books! They have reminded me of why got into this business to begin with and why I have spent 30+ years in education. What I love most about these books is the way these authors interact with other educators on Twitter, through blog posts, and emails. This approachable, helpful spirit simply did not exist , to my knowledge, 30 years ago! I have seen many energetic, young teachers burn out entirely too soon who could have made a difference if they had had this encouragement in time! THANK YOU for being one of those phenomenal “teachers of teachers” and someone I am proud to call my FRIEND!

  3. I just got “Instant Relevance” and found it to be…well…relevant!
    My students are more engaged than ever, because they know what they are learning MATTERS. They can see themselves having a place in the world because they are able to identify with the lesson being taken in (not taught, learning is taken in). I highly recommend it!