Are you a high school teacher looking for an inspiring read? Or are you thinking about a career in teaching and want to know more about current research on your future career? Whether you’re looking for ways to motivate students and improve your own classroom or just get a taste of what the best teachers think about in their profession, check out these five great books for high school teachers.
1. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck
In this groundbreaking book, the author uses psychology research to explore the ways our mindset affects the ability to learn. The amazing findings clearly show that how students approach a problem, and whether they believe they have the ability to learn and improve, is the strongest predictor of success. Her discussion on the differences between fixed and growth mindset touches on everything from how parenting affects students, the dangers of praising intelligence, to how a fixed mindset may still be holding us back in adulthood. Ultimately, the best part of this book is how empowering a little knowledge can be, and her concrete strategies for helping children, students, and ourselves develop a growth mindset and accomplish great things.
2. Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator, by Dave Burgess
If you’re looking for an inspirational and slightly irreverent take on how to develop meaningful relationships with your students, workers, and content, this workbook is a treasure trove for you. Using a series of stories and scenarios, Teach Like a Pirate walks readers through a systematic way of thinking about their teaching as a more integrated way of life. The brainstorming questions give you space and structure to apply the practical lessons and teaching strategies to your own practice, and there are plenty of prompts and options to get you lesson planning with confidence and creativity, no matter what subject material you teach.
3. Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading, by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst
Teachers in the humanities or social sciences struggle with getting students to close read a text. This book is a pedagogical guide to teaching close reading strategies simple enough for any student, but scaffolded enough to challenge your top performers. Beers and Probst describe six “signposts” found in literature that readers can look out for and engage with close reading. Once students notice a signpost, this book provides a series of questions that will help them explore any text to interpret author meaning and extract evidence. If you’re working on increasing student critical thinking skills, this book will help you provide a new and effective reading strategy for your students.
4. The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life, by Parker Palmer
Parker Palmer is known as a teaching guru. Not just an effective teacher in his own right, he inspires others to consider their teaching persona and how their own identities impact and enhance their teaching. Good teachers come in many forms, he argues, and embracing your true self in an authentic way in the classroom is essential to being the best teacher you can be. Palmer uses deft storytelling and anecdotes from high school teachers across the disciplines to illustrate his point that being yourself as a teacher is the first and most important step in creating classroom community, keeping your content interesting, and finding happiness in your role.
5. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by David H. Pink
How are you motivating your students? If you’re like most teachers, you use grades (and sometimes bonus points or even candy) to keep them on task and turning in work. This extrinsic rewards system isn’t as effective as we might think, though, and this book uses scientific research from educational psychology to prove it. The author shows that developing intrinsic motivation, that is, the drive to learn because we want to understand or achieve, is the key to student achievement. By exploring the scientific theories of autonomy, mastery, and purpose, Pink show practical and transformational ways to change our teaching by helping our students develop their own individual motivation.
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High school teachers certainly have plenty to read to prepare for their own courses, but these five great books are easy to read and will give new energy to your classroom. Respected as highly effective teachers, these authors speak directly to high school teachers and write about manageable techniques to try in your classroom while acknowledging the everyday challenges real teachers face. Pick up one of these five books for high school teachers today, and your students will be improving their learning tomorrow.