10 Books for Teacher Professional Development

Educators have traditionally been challenged to read in order to advance their craft, as well as to promote lifelong learning. There are hundreds of books published every year about the latest research-based instructional techniques. However, with 21st century teachers being challenged to re-design the educational landscape and transform all students’ learning, teachers are looking beyond the standard professional resources. Here are ten books that focus on transformational definitions of learning and outside-the-box reforms, as well as the evolution of today’s learners that educators can reference to advance their teaching methods and perspective in and out of the classroom.

Exploiting Chaos: 150 Ways to Spark Innovation During Times of Change by Jeremy Gutsche

Education books have a lot to offer, but so do books from the world of business and beyond. Written by an international speaker, writer, motivator and business leader, this best-selling book was designed for business leaders and change agents. Although not written with education in mind, this book includes 150 ways to spark innovation during times of change.

Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns by Clayton Christensen, Curtis W. Johnson and Michael B. Horn

Considered by many in the field to be a modern classic, this book is a well-crafted proposal on the overhaul of our K-12 education system with technology as the vehicle to better serve our students. Readers are presented with non-traditional approaches and success stories. Topics include: personalized learning, student-centered classrooms, one-to-one, and disruptive innovation ideas designed to circumvent the standard roadblocks to reform.

Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World by Tony Wagner

In this book, Harvard professor Tony Wagner suggests that our current system is not designed to provide the innovative education that 21st century workers and citizens require. He explores what parents, teachers and employers must do to develop the capacities of young people to become innovators. Wagner shares real-world examples of how adults have unlocked the creativity and imaginations in students. The book focuses on play, passion and purpose, which Wagner considers to be “the forces that drive young innovators.”

The Multiplier Effect: Tapping the Genius Inside Our Schools by Liz Wiseman, Lois Allen and Elise Foster

This book is a follow-up to a popular edition that was aimed at challenging business executives to re-think their leadership approaches and ability to build capacity within their teams. This education-focused edition challenges school leaders to tap into the creative talents and potential within the teams they lead. It contains interviews with more than 100 school leaders and focuses on five disciplines that can create multipliers and the multiplier effect.

World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students by Yong Zhao

Zhao is a Chinese-born, American professor who discusses education and the changing needs of students as future citizens in the global economy in his book World Class Learners. He presents a case that teachers have the role of cultivating independent thinkers who are willing and able to use their learning differently to create their own futures in this globalized society. He suggests that teachers needs to understand and harness this entrepreneurial spirit, foster student autonomy and leadership, champion invention and innovation, and develop global partners and resources.

To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel H. Pink

Beyond the educational realm once again, Daniel H. Pink challenges us to think about our role in “selling” what we do to others with whom we work. Other books like Drive and A Whole New Mind have defined this change agent approach. For educators, this implies that they are in the business of trying to convince students of the importance of learning what we are teaching them. Crafting an amazing message (or lecture) won’t mean much if students don’t buy it (or truly believe it)

Feel-Bad Education: And Other Contrarian Essays on Children and Schooling by Alfie Kohn

Kohn is one of the most outspoken voices on transformational reform. His premise is that America’s schools are caught in the paradigm he calls, “The cult of rigor and loss of joy.” In his book, he argues that our standards-based models have robbed students of the true joys of learning. He has rallied against everything from homework to assessments. It is unimaginable to read Kohn and not come away with some harsh, but refreshing perspectives on how education needs to be transformed.

From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom by Marc Prensky

Prensky has been a relentless voice on the changing nature of learners who have grown up in the digital age. He advocates that as digital immigrants, we have an obligation to truly understand today’s learners. In his book, he offers easy and high-impact classroom strategies that move our digital natives toward “digital wisdom.” This includes information on games and media to enhance the learning experiences of today’s digital natives.

Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation by Linda A. Hill, Greg Brandeau, Emily Truelove and Kent Lineback

Whether you are a school leader or a professional in the private sector, innovation is something that we’re all after. The authors here use poignant narratives from leaders at companies like Volkswagen, eBay, Pfizer and Google, as well as from government and nonprofits, to illustrate that successful leaders of innovation don’t create a vision to make innovation happen. Rather, they build and enhance a culture where innovation is allowed to organically occur.

The Maker Movement Manifesto: Rules for Innovation in the New World of Crafters, Hackers and Tinkerers by Mark Hatch

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is one of the hottest new curriculum arenas in education. The Maker Movement is STEM in action and Hatch has been at the forefront of the Maker Movement since it began. This book serves as a guide to an international movement where everyday people are designing, building, creating, innovating and inventing. Educators could learn a great deal from the movement aimed at unleashing the creative spirit within all of us.