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Must Reads for New Teachers

Your colleagues have recommended some must-reads for newbies that are sure to help you get organized and energized. Here are a few of their picks.
Published: December 6, 2016

Before you enter the classroom, read this! A list of best books for new teachers, recommended by your colleagues

Lots of educators suffer from back-to-school jitters, but teachers new to the classroom are especially prone to worries: What if I have a classroom full of troublemakers? What if my lesson plans aren’t rigorous enough? What if I have absolutely no parental or administrative support? Take comfort: Your colleagues have recommended some must-reads for newbies that are sure to help you get organized and energized. Here are a few of their picks.

The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher

By Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong

“I read this book every year before school starts,” says Meaghan McDermott of Rocky Point, New York. “It helps new teachers understand the importance of establishing routines during the first weeks, as opposed to jumping right into content areas. Children need to know what to expect, and when, and you need to teach them, because they can’t read minds! You will be so grateful that you used the strategies in this book; when the routines and procedures become second nature, teaching will be so much easier.”

Educating Esmé: Diary of a Teacher’s First Year

By Esmé Raji Codell

“I loved reading Educating Esmé,” says Jane Scruggs of Arlington, Virginia. “It reminded me of just how special we teachers are, especially those of us strong enough to teach in the city. I read it 10 years ago and still remember it. Plus, it’s a quick read!”

Working with Parents

By Ruby K. Payne

“Last year, when I was a first-year teacher, my district gave out copies of Working With Parents: Building Relationships for Student Success to help us build positive relationships with parents,” says Cori Fryar of Springdale, Arkansas. “It taught me how to deal with each type of parent—poor, wealthy, even overprotective parents—and what I should do as a teacher to ensure that I have a relationship with them. I thought I already knew how to work with parents, but I felt much more confident after reading the book.”


Why Didn’t I Learn This in College?

By Paula Rutherford

“This is one of the best books for new teachers, but it hadn’t been written when I started teaching back in 1962,” says Margaret Martin of Alachua, Florida. “Since buying it, I’ve shared it with many teachers, all of whom agree with the title—they wish they’d learned these tricks and tools in college, too.

“It features guidelines for planning standards-based lessons and organizing a classroom for learning; and it provides strategies for engaging students, integrating literacy across the curriculum, and helping students self-assess, self-adjust, and become increasingly more responsible for their own learning.”

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key

By Jack Gantos

“After I read this book, I wished all general education teachers would read it to get some insight into what life is like for students with ADD and ADHD,” says S.A. of Saginaw, Michigan. “I am a special education teacher, and sympathetic to my students’ challenges; but so many gen ed teachers think the behavior is elective or willful. If teachers could empathize a little more, and find outlets for some of these kids’ energy, our students would not be ‘in trouble’ most of the time.”

Julie Neff-Encinas from Tuscon, Arizona, agrees. “Joey Pigza opens the world inside the mind of a student with ADHD to things one can’t possibly imagine if you have not been there,” she says.

Blowing Away the State Writing Assessment Test

By Jane Bell Kiester

“This is the best book ever—a guide to help kids score points on writing assessments,” says Jennifer Lynn of La Mesa, California. “I only wish I had discovered it earlier.

“You start by introducing students to commonly used ‘dead verbs’ (is, was, were, have, has, etc.). They rewrite sentences using vivid verbs, then vivid verb paragraphs. Then they learn to score essays that have been released from different state tests. Soon, the students are off writing their own essays. There’s a lot of focus on the different types of writing, and tons of samples to use.

“After using the book for just one week, students were stopping me any time I used a dead verb, and we rewrote the sentence on the spot!”

Also, don't miss The Teacher's Survival Guide: Real Classroom Dilemmas and Practical Solutions

By Marc Major

"This book really lives up to its name! It's one of the first books I've encountered that offers realistic dilemmas faced by not only new but veteran teachers, and then offers solutions that are just as realistic," says Cori Hixon, a humanities instructor at Poudre High School in Fort Collins, Colorado. "I'll be using it in the fall with teachers new to the profession because I believe it illustrates the wide range of issues a new teacher must face.  But it also leaves them with hope that the issues are not insurmountable."

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