Books That Changed My Teaching

Books that changed my teaching - two books that helped me grow as a teacher.

Books that changed my teaching? You might be surprised. Looking outside the education world helped me shape my classroom. 

We’ve all read Alfie Kahn, Dr. Wong, and Frank McCourt.

Education blogs, articles, journals, research – read those too.

Educational readings shape our teaching styles and classrooms. They’ve definitely bettered my lessons.

Recently, I’ve focused on reading outside the educational genre. My husband works in business, and years ago, I borrowed his copy of Who Moved My Cheese. I related to the concept of the changing world and overcoming stagnation to my classroom – and saw benefits.

I try to learn something from every book, and I’m continuously reading. Still, Grit by Angela Lee Duckworth and The Power of Habit by Charles Dugigg overwhelmingly changed my teaching style and philosophy.

Both books provide multiple insights, but I’m giving a quick takeaway from both, in hopes that other teachers feel moved to pick them up. Grit and The Power of Habit contain more than these short lessons, but here is a taste of what I learned.

Books that changed my teaching - two books that helped me grow as a teacher.


How: Grit primarily helped me to develop as a teacher, but it also gave me lessons for my students.

The message: “Smarts” are not the determinator for success – being “gritty” and continuing on a path are larger factors.

Education is my passion; Grit encouraged me to persevere. If you’ve been around my blog, you may realize that I’m fascinated with how grammar carries over to literature analysis and writing skills. Sometimes, I wonder if this passion and curiosity are misplaced. Should I concentrate elsewhere – early literacy? writing? After reading Grit, I believe that my passion for grammar has a purpose and that because I am so passionate about it, I will help other people from what I learn.

Teaching can be a demeaning profession – a draining one. After reading Grit, I am reaffirmed in my focus on ELA, specifically grammar studies.

Furthermore, Duckworth shows that following a passion for years can result in immense satisfaction. This is a lesson I’m thrilled to share with my students.

You might like this book if… you have a passion and wonder how much time to devote to developing it, and how to develop it. As a parent, I also found ideas for helping my own children.

The Power of Habit

How: Aside from developing habits as a teacher (grading papers, organizing paperwork), The Power of Habit helped me implement a concept in my classroom. Duhigg calls this idea a buy-in or a “keystone habit.

The message: The type of “keystone habit” differs from class to class and from school to school. Basically, a keystone habit is associated with other positive habits.

So, every day, my students have expectations. I write out plans for my students, a word of the day, and a quote of the day. The classroom is organized this way, and all students get get behind these simple practices. They read what they will do that class period, they will learn a new word, and they will read a new quote. It’s a habit that everyone can get behind.

These keystone habits translate into bigger thinking and better organization overall. Students transition from one project to the next because they understand the day’s order. They are thinking when they sit down because of new scenery. One small habit (that I help them develop) translates into better and more efficient steps for our classroom community.

You might like this book if… you are interested in the psychology behind habits. This book will not tell you to “try harder” or sell you a “quick fix.”

Grit and The Power of Habit changed my teaching. Nowhere do they give specific educational practices, but the ideas are transferrable to classrooms.

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  • Bernadette

    Hey! Thank you for the recommendations! I am going to download the audio versions and listen to these on my way to work. I always search key words like “teaching” when I want to find an audio book to help me improve my practice, but this is way better!

    • (author)

      Thanks! I am pleased with the replies and feedback from this post. You could also watch the TED talk from Angela Lee Duckworth.

  • Tanya Kumm

    I couldn’t agree more! 3 years ago, I started incorporating mindset and business books into my daily reading and it has made all the difference! Have you read Brene Brown’s work? John Maxwell always amazes me! The list goes on… and on!!!!

    • (author)

      NO! I am putting it on my list though. Thanks for the recommendation.

  • Natalie

    I am so very glad to see this post. I quickly ran to the Library. I think this is super important. Ready for the journey. Thank you for sharing!

    • (author)

      You’re welcome. Let me know what you think! They both gave me numerous ideas; this is just a quick summary. Enjoy!

  • Tiffany

    Since you said you are mildly obsessed with grammar, I thought I would suggest a book that you will love. It’s called The War Against Grammar. Check it out! Grammar has a huge purpose beyond anything you can imagine!

    • (author)

      This is the second time that book has been recommended to me, which means I need to buy it. What did you like most about it?

  • Shandy

    I am reading Radical Candor and also listening to their podcast– outstanding discussion on giving meaningful feedback and creating a culture bent towards growth!

  • Marie

    Hi, I teach college undergraduates in psychology and they often struggle with writing, especially scientific writing, and I’d love to incorporate writing activities into my class. I showed up because all these books are psychology books I recognized! But I ended up finding the language instruction part of your blog even more useful.

    • (author)

      Wonderful. I’m glad that you found the posts helpful.

  • Monalisa Abuere

    I read The power of habit.. yes it is a great book…. It change my habit!

  • Georgia

    Another great book that also talks about grit is the book How Children Succeed by Paul Tough

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