The best books to make teaching suck a little less

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a veteran teacher, instructional coach, and speaker. I’ve dealt with the bull crap and beauty of education for a decade and a half. As such, I’m dedicated to helping educators find their love of this work, even amidst the struggles. I’m a columnist for Education Leadership and host of the Educator Happy Hour podcast. I travel all over the world to help teachers and school leaders learn the science of well-being so they can be at their best in order to give their best, even on full-moon, post-holiday, “WIFI crashed” days of student chaos.


I wrote...

The Burnout Cure: Learning to Love Teaching Again

By Chase Mielke,

Book cover of The Burnout Cure: Learning to Love Teaching Again

What is my book about?

I almost quit education for good six years ago. The irony is that I was about to quit teaching a positive psychology class – a class I had researched, developed, and taught for nearly a decade. My day-to-day job was teaching teenagers peer-reviewed research and strategies to bolster resilience, gratitude, forgiveness, optimism, accomplishment, and engagement. Rather than quitting, I decided to practice what I preached – applying every research-based strategy I’d ever heard of to the life of a teacher.

The Burnout Cure is the product of that pursuit: Ten of the most helpful strategies any educator (or human) can use to not just survive but thrive in education. Will this book “Mary Poppins” you to a joyful, stress-free life as an educator? No. But it will help it suck a lot less.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living

Chase Mielke Why did I love this book?

I was an angsty, trouble-making, “pain in the ass-essement” of a student. A mischief maker. A frequenter of the principal's office. Then junior year, I find myself at a rummage sale holding a book with a cheesy, smiley Buddhist on the cover about happiness. Maybe it was curiosity (or what I’d later realize was depression) but I felt I had to buy the book. No book has changed my life more.

Co-written by H. H. the Dalai Lama and psychiatrist Dr. Howard C. Cutler, this book is a pragmatic, down-to-earth exploration of how our thoughts – our reactions to hardships – can shape our well-being. Not preachy, nor touchy-feely, this book can explain how to acknowledge the challenges of life while taking our happiness into our own actions. If you’re going to suffer (and in teaching, you will suffer), why not take a masterclass on how to find happiness within the hardship?

By Dalai Lama XIV, Howard C. Cutler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Art of Happiness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this unique and important book, one of the world's great spiritual leaders offers his practical wisdom and advice on how we can overcome everyday human problems and achieve lasting happiness.

The Art of Happiness is a highly accessible guide for a western audience, combining the Dalai Lama's eastern spiritual tradition with Dr Howard C. Cutler's western perspective. Covering all key areas of human experience, they apply the principles of Tibetan Buddhism to everyday problems and reveal how one can find balance and complete spiritual and mental freedom.

For the many who wish to understand more about the Dalai Lama's…


Book cover of Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity

Chase Mielke Why did I love this book?

Focus. Managing others. Decision-making. Absorbing data. These are just a few of the daily battles educators face – each of which is explored in detail in this book. Normally I’m skeptical of the “self-helpy” titles, which so often are all attention getter and little supporting detail. But Duhigg is a beast of a journalist. 

This book reads like a novel but is heavily backed with support – expert interviews, research, and footnotes upon footnotes. I earmarked and annotated the heck out of this one, each chapter sending my mind wild with new lenses and ideas for education. Pick this one up and get your highlighter ready.

By Charles Duhigg,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Smarter Faster Better as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In his international bestseller The Power of Habit, Pulitzer Prize-winner Charles Duhigg explained why we do what we do. Now he applies the same relentless curiosity and masterful analysis to the question: how can each of us achieve more?

Drawing on the very latest findings in neuroscience, psychology and behavioural economics, he demonstrates the eight simple principles that govern productivity. He demonstrates how the most dynamic and effective people - from CEOs to film-makers to software entrepreneurs - deploy them. And he shows how you can, too.

'Charles has some wonderful advice for increasing productivity . . . the tips…


Book cover of Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment

Chase Mielke Why did I love this book?

Another happiness book!? Okay, if a philosophical book on the “art” of happiness isn’t your cup of Tibetan tea, then how about the science of happiness? Dr. Martin Seligmann is considered the founder of positive psychology – a movement to understand not just what’s wrong with people but what’s right. 

Though Seligman has written a few books over the decades on the research of well-being, I think Authentic Happiness is the best introduction to the many studies helping us find more meaning, engagement, and joy. My favorite part is that Seligman seems like a “natural grouch” – like a guy who didn’t want to believe in positive psychology but couldn’t ignore the robust research showing that we can change our well-being. Reading this is like chatting with the gruff, 40-year-teaching-veteran who is chock full of stories, wisdom, and insights to look at and live life differently.

By Martin E. P. Seligman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Authentic Happiness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A national bestseller, Authentic Happiness launched the revolutionary new science of Positive Psychology—and sparked a coast-to-coast debate on the nature of real happiness.

According to esteemed psychologist and bestselling author Martin Seligman, happiness is not the result of good genes or luck. Real, lasting happiness comes from focusing on one’s personal strengths rather than weaknesses—and working with them to improve all aspects of one’s life. Using practical exercises, brief tests, and a dynamic website program, Seligman shows readers how to identify their highest virtues and use them in ways they haven’t yet considered. Accessible and proven, Authentic Happiness is the…


Book cover of The Burnout Epidemic: The Rise of Chronic Stress and How We Can Fix It

Chase Mielke Why did I love this book?

Our well-being is largely within our influence. But that doesn’t mean context doesn’t matter. Too often the burden of burnout is placed on the shoulders of educators; the reality is that burnout is made worse by unhealthy working conditions. This book will reassure you that burnout is not your fault, while giving you ideas on what schools need to make conditions better.

Moss does a great job breaking down decades of burnout research to help any reader realize the specifics of their burnout and what the biggest culprits are. Read this to feel affirmed. Then ninja-sneak it onto your principal’s desk as required reading.

By Jennifer Moss,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Burnout Epidemic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Named one of 10 Best New Management Books for 2022 by Thinkers50

Named to the shortlist for the 2021 Outstanding Works of Literature (OWL) Award in the Management & Culture Category

In this important and timely book, workplace well-being expert Jennifer Moss helps leaders and individuals prevent burnout and create healthier, happier, and more productive workplaces.

We tend to think of burnout as a problem we can solve with self-care: more yoga, better breathing techniques, and more resilience. But evidence is mounting that applying personal, Band-Aid solutions to an epic and rapidly evolving workplace phenomenon isn't enough-in fact, it's not…


Book cover of Brain-Based Learning: Teaching the Way Students Really Learn

Chase Mielke Why did I love this book?

Alright, alright. There should be at least one book that actually helps with the practice of teaching. And this is the one. Countless books admonish specific programs and practices, chock full of the fanciest edu-buzz words. But rarely do they discuss why a strategy works based on the science of human cognition and development. Even less frequently do they back the why with multiple peer-reviewed studies. 

Jensen and McConchie combine an absurd level of nerd as researchers and veteran educators. This book and its predecessors helped me gain a deep understanding of why a strategy worked (or how to make it work), whether it was something new or something tried-and-true. The job of a teacher is to mold human brains. We should probably know everything we can about how those brains work.

By Eric P. Jensen, Liesl McConchie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Brain-Based Learning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Learn how to teach like a pro and have fun, too!

The more you know about the brains of your students, the better you can be at your profession. Brain-based teaching gives you the tools to boost cognitive functioning, decrease discipline issues, increase graduation rates, and foster the joy of learning. This innovative, new edition of the bestselling Brain-Based Learning by Eric Jensen and master teacher and trainer Liesl McConchie provides an up-to-date, evidence-based learning approach that reveals how the brain naturally learns best in school. Based on findings from neuroscience, biology, and psychology, you will find:

In-depth, relevant insights…


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The Managing People Practice Manual

By Neil Thompson,

Book cover of The Managing People Practice Manual

Neil Thompson Author Of The Managing People Practice Manual

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Writer Educator Adviser

Neil's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

This manual addresses the need to ensure that people are at the centre of the organisation. There has never been a timelier reminder of the need to ensure that leading, supporting and developing staff are critical aspects of creating the right organisational culture to grow and develop. Written with sensitivity, it brings together essential learning and underpinning theoretical knowledge and frameworks to promote effective practice.

This is an essential handbook for managers and leaders who want to develop the full potential of their people. It not only covers the fundamental issues of human resource management, but also highlights important topics that organisations find difficult to address, such as empowerment, stress management, mental health, equality, diversity, inclusion, and the promotion of well-being at work.

The Managing People Practice Manual

By Neil Thompson,

What is this book about?

It is refreshing to come across an HR book that bridges the gap perfectly between the academic theory and the practicality of ‘how to do it'. Dr Neil Thompson takes us on a humanistic journey that genuinely captures the human dimension of people management. This is an extremely helpful manual full of important and practical information about promoting well-being to achieve the best outcome for various everyday people management issues. The easy-to-understand inclusive language of this book calls to anyone interested in people management, meaning this is a perfect book for students, HR leaders, and practitioners. I know I will…


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