Three Inspirational Books to Renew Your Passion for Teaching

Teaching is one of the hardest jobs in the world. It’s also one of the most stressful and most demanding jobs. The long hours at school, teaching content, disciplining, grading, parent-teacher conferences, after-school meetings, after-school clubs, seminars… the workload seems endless!

It’s bound to happen at one point or another in your career as an educator: you will experience seasons, weeks, or months of a slump. You may feel uninspired, bored, or indifferent.

This happens, and it’s normal to feel this way at times.

Most teachers I know have gone into the field of education because they love teaching and they know what they do makes a differences in the lives of children.

It’s important to be reminded of that.

Whenever I find myself in that dreaded slump of un-inspiring routines, I try to find the source of where it could be coming from. Sometimes it just needs to work itself out, but other times, I’ve discovered because I’m simply not feeling inspired any more.

Throughout my teaching career, there have been three books recommended to me that have brought the much-needed inspiration back into my heart and mind. They’ve renewed a sort of awe and passion for teaching that has made a lasting impact.

I’d like to share a bit about these three books and a short summary about what you will find inside these pages. I’ll also share why this book is an inspiring one.

So, without further ado, let the inspiration begin!

  1. Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire by Rafe Esquith

    Summary: Helpful for parents and teachers alike, Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire offers you a recipe for educational success. Rafe brings you into the middle of his Los Angeles classroom and lets you experience the hard work, accountability, and community that it takes to make a good classroom run.

    The fifth graders in Mr. Esquith’s class are no stranger to hard work as they are all first-generation immigrants and English learners. He offers fun, insightful anecdotes that highlight why his class scores in the top one percent of standardized tests and then go on to attend Ivy League schools.

    This book is a great one for igniting the flame to fuel the passion of teaching once again with ways to teach a comprehensive curriculum, purposeful lessons, and how to manage disciple and behavior. It’s a great read for anyone who wants to raise up a successful generation of world changers.

    Not only is this book highly inspirational, but this is probably one of the best books I’ve ever read in my life! Rafe Esquith is a fantastic writer who brings you into his own classroom in such a way that makes you feel like you’re getting a close-up view of the methods for success.
  2. Thirty-Two Third Graders and One Class Bunny by Philip Done

    Summary: Mr. Done is a third-grade teacher who is an expert at fixing the stapler and poking pins in the tops of glue bottles. He’s also sang “Happy Birthday” 657 times. Mr. Done is us, and we are Mr. Done. Armed with humor and anecdotes for days, Mr. Done offers relatable and uplifting stories of his third-grade adventures.

    Beyond the humorous stories lies some key concepts in the world of teaching: teaching is all about building relationships with students and creating a community, each child is uniquely gifted with strengths and challenges, and using humor in the classroom at the right times can cultivate a love for learning like none other.

    Philip Done skillfully combines these keys into the stories for all readers to learn from, like the true master teacher that he is. There is something to be said for an educator who can perfectly sum up how it feels on the first day of school, the last day of school, and every day in between with the funny and meaningful stories that he shares.

    Whether an elementary school teacher, a third-grade teacher, an admin, or a support staff, this book will offer a huge laugh to whoever reads it. This is the perfect book to read when you’ve had a hard day and need some laughter in your life.
  3. What Teachers Make by Taylor Mali

    Summary: Taylor Mali is the author of the poem that is also called, “What Teachers Make” where he answers the question of a lawyer who asks him at a dinner party, “What do teachers make?” Mr. Mali is quick to answer frankly about what it is exactly that teachers make!

    One of the most honest and fierce advocates for teachers of all time, Mr. Mali inspires educators to love poetry and have fun teaching it to their students. He gives a raw, unfiltered look at what “teachers truly make.” Filled with thirty small essays peppered with poetry throughout, this book reminds teachers that they really do make a difference. Do you?

    This book is a great one to remind yourself or others about why you entered the world of teaching and the difference you can make in the lives of your students. Like the other two books mentioned above, Mr. Mali sprinkles in the foundations of his own teaching pedagogy with the personal anecdotes he shares.

    They can be broken down into the simple truths to believe in and never give up on your students, to challenge them to attain more than they think they can, and to make a difference.

Whether you are reading these books for your own benefit or gifting them to a colleague, you will not regret investing in the messages that these three stories bring!

Every educator needs to remember their “why” for entering the world of teaching, and sometimes it gets lost in the lesson plans, the meetings, the paperwork, grading, the long days, and the late nights… Thankfully we have books like these to lean on to help us remember why we do what we do. It’s all for the students, and it always has been.

The next time you feel in need of a little inspiration, head over to your local bookstore and pick out Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire, Thirty-Two Third Graders and One Class Bunny, or What Teachers Make. You won’t be sorry.