Teaching is truly an art form that takes time and dedication to learn to do well, and as any experienced educator can tell you, the first few years are usually the most trying. While nothing can substitute for personal experience, there is much that new teachers can learn from the experiences of others who have walked the path before them. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the 50 best books for new teachers.
The books on the list cover a broad range of subjects and styles, from pedagogical theory to practical how-to, novels to autobiography, history to classroom discipline, politics to reading, writing, and arithmetic. What they all have in common is that they all come strongly recommended for new teachers by current and former teachers. If you’re a teacher looking for guidance and inspiration, you’re sure to find some here.
General Inspiration and How-To
1. 1000 Best New Teacher Survival Secrets (Kathleen Brenny and Kandace Martin)
1000 Best New Teacher Survival Secrets, is a book by two experienced teachers aimed at other teachers with the purpose of helping them to more effectively and efficiently carry out the most important and often difficult duties required to successfully perform their jobs. This book makes a perfect addition to any teacher’s personal bookcase because while thorough, helpful, and detailed, it is also formatted in a way that makes for a very simple yet informative read.
2. The Courage To Teach (Parker Palmer)
The Courage to Teach by Parker Palmer is a book designed for both new and seasoned teachers based on a spiritual perspective. Palmer covers topics such as what makes a successful teacher, what role fear plays in teaching, teaching paradoxes, and becoming a part of a teaching community. Palmer focuses on the inner life of a teacher, building connections, and finding one’s passion. This book would be helpful for new teachers wanting to reflect on what brought them to teaching, how to connect with students and colleagues, and on the often neglected emotional and spiritual sides of the teaching profession.
3. The Elements of Teaching (James M. Banner)
Before entering into the wonderful world of education, The Elements of Teaching by James M. Banner is a must read work. It explains the qualities that a teacher must have in order to be a true champion of education and how those characteristics come into play in the classroom. Furthermore, Banner combines both teaching theory and practice in his analysis of the optimal classroom to show how they both have a role. It is through reading about the combination of these strategies in Banner’s work that many a proficient and prolific teacher are born into the classroom setting.
4. The First Days of School: How to Be An Effective Teacher (Harry K. Wong)
The First Days of School is a must-read for all educators, but especially for those teachers who are just beginning their careers in education. The book offers the tools needed to develop a winning strategy for a successful school-year. Throughout you will find chapters covering everything from teacher/student introductions, classroom procedures and management, how to improve students’ mastery of the lessons and much more. This book gives new teachers the confidence and guidance needed to succeed far beyond the first days of school.
5. First Year Teacher’s Survival Kit (Julia G. Thompson)
For Years, First Year Teacher’s Survival Kit by Julia G. Thompson has helped show new educators the methods they need to succeed. The book is often revised and updated to keep new teachers up to date on current topics and tips on how to handle changes in the educational system. Topics include connecting with students, helping struggling readers, and working on a team. The Second Edition includes information on the No Child Left Behind Act as well as crucial tips to help at-risk students increase their success. A Fully revised list of resources help teachers find additional websites, software, and more.
6. From Surviving to Thriving (Marcia Bromfield)
From Surviving to Thriving is a guide for beginning teachers written by Marcia Bromfield. This guidebook shows new teachers how to create a solid foundation for their teaching career and outlines steps to take to ensure that teaching remains a rewarding and satisfying career choice. It stresses the importance of relationships with other teachers and fostering relationships with students and their families. This guidebook is a great resource for new teachers or anyone wishing to start a career path in education.
7. Learning to Teach (Linda Shalaway)
When you are fresh out of teaching school, you have a lot of ideas in your mind about the way that things should be done, but you may not have a lot of concrete ways to put your ideas into practice. Learning to Teach by Linda Shalaway attempts to help you bridge the gap between ideas and process by offering you interviews and methods as related by experienced teachers. When you want to know how to engage the classroom, and when you are invested in getting a positive response from your students, this guide can show you how to get it.
8. Letters to a New Teacher (Jim Burke)
In Letters To a New Teacher, people who are new to teaching are offered the opportunity to read an exchange of letters that occurred between the author and a new teacher that he was mentoring. Research has shown that new teachers benefit from the advice and experience they gain from a mentoring relationship. Now, through this book, any teacher can enjoy the advantages that come from learning through the experiences of a mentor teacher. This book can help new teachers to learn how to organize their classrooms, plan their instruction and remain flexible enough to meet the changing dynamics of their classroom.
9. Never Work Harder Than Your Students (Robyn Jackson)
A must read by long time teacher Robyn Jackson, Never Work Harder Than Your Students is a practical and well thought out guide for teachers striving to connect with their students in a practiced and engrossing way. The book is filled with tips, trouble shooting advice, and tools that will help any teacher live up to the seven principles offered by the book and implement them immediately. Never Work Harder Than Your Students should be required reading for all teachers everywhere and will absolutely change the way educators think about their profession and the methods they use to teach.
10. The New Teacher Book (Rethinking Schools)
The New Teacher Book is a true catch-all book for beginning educators, a crash coarse in the real world of teaching. Its a collection of essays by teachers both new and old, sharing their own hard earned lessons and guidance on surviving both the school system, their peers and how to connect with their students. Nectar for the soul of any new teacher scared to continue down that road, The New Teacher Book offers up anecdotes and stories alongside ideas and resources that can uplift and inspire. Its like a grand collection of old friends between the pages of an indispensable book.
11. The Passionate Teacher: A Practical Guide (Robert Fried)
When you are a new teacher, the feeling that you likely experience the most is weariness. Teaching is hard, and staying passionate can feel like a losing battle. This is where The Passionate Teacher: A Practical Guide comes in. This book is a meditation on keeping your passion as you teach, and it is full of examples and interviews that will help you get where you need to be. Too many people think that passion is something that you lose over time. Instead, this book teaches you that it is something that needs to renewed. It tells you where to work and how to get your passion back!
12. Road to Teaching (Eric Hougan)
The comprehensive text on teaching for teachers, Eric Hougan’s Road To Teaching supplies the blueprint for a new teacher to transition to a master educator. The book covers the many unique steps between the first day and the last, teaching teachers to go beyond the prescribed techniques and succeed for their students when the deck is stacked against them. It really focuses on the first time teacher, including information on developing a resume and searching for their first job as an educator. Along with the practical information for new teachers breaking in, it spells out the secrets of master teachers.
13. The Skillful Teacher (Stephen Brookfield)
The Skillful Teacher is an award winning textbook for teachers that provides solid and proven advice for teachers, regardless of experience in the field. The author, Stephen Brookfield, draws on his expert knowledge as the host of hundreds of teacher workshops throughout the years and across many different schooling environments. The second edition of the text updates the work with more information on classroom diversity and the changes brought about through internet based education. Unlike many other textbooks, all of the material is presented in a readable and personal tone.
14. Teaching Content Outrageously (Stanley Pogrow)
As a new teacher, there is nothing more disheartening than looking up and seeing boredom and apathy in your students’ eyes. The truth is that you are not a bad teacher; you just need some help in getting your students excited. This is what Teaching Content Outrageously by Stanley Pogrow sets out to do. There are several editions of this book that concentrate on different grade levels, and each book sets out to give examples and lesson plans on how to get students involved. It shows you how to make your lessons personal and exciting, and it gives you an opportunity to get your students engaged.
15. Teaching Outside the Box (LouAnne Johnson)
Thinking Outside the Box by LouAnne Johnson will give a teacher of any skill level new ideas to keep their interested in what they are learning. If the students are kept interested by the teacher in the classroom, then they are naturally going to what to learn more on the subject. LouAnne Johnson is one of the most respected teaching authors in the world, and she does not disappoint with her latest book. The Q&A section with current teachers and the tips on how to effectively grade make this book a must-read for anyone that has just become a teacher.
16. Tools for Teaching (Fred Jones)
In Tools for Teaching, the author offers up the skills needed for teachers to truly enjoy the classroom while bringing students along for the ride. Fred Jones shows his system of instruction, motivation and discipline to streamline the teaching process while avoiding the headaches brought on from disruptive students and weak educators. The book presents a proper structure for new teachers to follow with simple instructions and includes an overview on DVD with activity guides and workshops. The DVD also includes videos to share with parents. Tools for Teaching is a perfect title and should be in every teacher’s toolbox.
17. What Great Teachers Do Differently (Todd Whitaker)
What Great Teachers Do Differently by Todd Whitaker is an inspiration book that will help anyone become a better teacher no matter their skill level. Whitaker knows that teaching is not easy, so he gives the reader 17 steps to improve their skills. This is the perfect book for new teachers to read because it will allow them to gain new tricks and learn from their mistakes to make them the best teacher possible. If you read this book, then you will know the proper beliefs and behaviors it takes to connect to your students and help them learn.
18. Why Didn’t I Learn This in College? (Paula Rutherford)
When you’re a new teacher, you find yourself thinking more about the things that they didn’t teach you in school. Now, with Why Didn’t I Learn This in College by Paula Rutherford, you can get the insider’s scoop on what you need to know to survive. This book offers you an important perspective on the teaching prospect, and on top of this, you’ll also find some fantastic ways to motivate yourself as well as your students. The information is culled from interviews with experienced teachers, and the book itself is an excellent resource for any new teacher in need of some reassurance and guidance.
Fiction and Biography
19. Educating Esme (Esme Raji Codell)
Educating Esme is a diary written Esme Raji Codell, a first year teacher in the Chicago public school system. Codell’s unconventional methods of teaching are lighthearted, such as encouraging movement and activity during learning, yet allow for comprehension and retention. The diary shows the day to day routine of a first year teacher learning the ropes. Educating Esme is a great read for new teachers and gives readers many examples of teaching methods that can be implemented in any classroom among a wide age range of students.
20. The Emergency Teacher (Christina Asquith)
The Emergency Teacher by Christina Asquith tells the story of a young woman working as a teacher for the first time in one of the worst neighborhoods in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Asquith was able to overcome a corrupt school filled with crime from both the students and faculty to achieve something special. This is a great book for new teachers to read because it will inspire you to continue teaching no matter what you are facing.
21. Horace’s School (Theodore R. Sizer)
With the sub-title “Redesigning the American High School,” in Horace’s School Theodore Sizer has done just that, converting over 30 years of research and study into his image of the perfect American high school. Sizer uses his knowledge and powerful understanding of what teachers and students face each day. He provides this information through the fictional school teacher Horace Smith, who searches for answers within the rigid structures imposed in the current system. An inspiring story that brings issues that all teachers face to light and offering solutions to those educators stuck behind bureaucratic red tape and outnumbered by the old guard.
22. Teacher Man (Frank McCourt)
Teacher Man is a must read memoir for teachers. Frank McCourt examines his thirty years of teaching and the ways that it shaped his eventual conversion to a respected author. An honest, if heartbreaking, story of the challenges teachers face in public high schools. An English teacher in New York City he spent a lot of time convinced he was a fraud. Best known for his book Angela’s Ashes, a memoir of his childhood and upbringing, this book is a fantastic sequel of sorts and belongs on any teacher’s shelf among classics of literature as well as educational texts.
23. Up the Down Stair Case (Bel Kaufman)
Up the Down Stair Case is a work of fiction by Bel Kaufman. It follows the first year of teaching for Miss Barrett, a new college graduate, at Calvin Coolidge High. When faced with a lack of supplies, inadequate conditions, and unmotivated teenagers, Miss Barrett uses the resources she has at her disposal to motivate and encourage her students. This book is an excellent read for new teachers as it introduces situations that many teachers will face, especially those working in lower socioeconomic areas.
Race, Poverty and Social Justice
24. A Framework for Understanding Poverty (Ruby Payne)
A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby Payne is an important book for all teachers to have in their collection, but especially those new to working with the underprivileged. This book contains a plethora of questionnaires, tables, charts, and graphs all aimed at informing the reader on the severe impact that poverty has on those who are subjected to it and how to counteract its effects in the classroom. Quickly becoming the standard guide on poverty and education.
25. Black Teachers on Teaching by Michele Foster
Published in 1998, this timeless classic on the growth of African American education is a must-read for teachers who hope to learn of the history of America’s struggle for racial equality. Michele Foster discusses the history of the disturbing trials that teachers had to face as America’s era of white supremacy finally began to reach its end. In this book, you will be given firsthand accounts of the hardships that were experienced from the 1950s to the 1990s by teachers charged with the education of African American youth in both southern and urban areas.
26. The Freedom Writers Diary (Erin Gruwell)
A large portion of teachers leave the profession within their first three years on the job. The Freedom Writers Diary is an encouraging text for how to motivate students from even the roughest backgrounds, with minimal resources. Teachers often enter the profession with the desire to impact lives. This book contains writing from the students’ own journal entries throughout the year and how the class affected their lives. All of the students went on to graduate from high school and attend college.
27. Holler if you Hear Me (Gregory Michie)
Holler If You Hear Me: The Education of a Teacher and His Students is an essential book for any teacher who cares about social justice. Drawing upon his experience as an inner-city teacher, author Gregory Michie explores the connection between personal and social transformation, helping teachers understand how change the lives of the current generation of students by themselves becoming the change they wish to see. Holler if You Hear Me is a must read for all professional educators who are truly interested in learning to teach with cultural sensitivity, justice, love, and imagination.
28. My Posse Don’t Do Homework (Louanne Johnson)
Louanne Johnson’s book My Posse Don’t Do Homework is a wonderfully informative read that is aimed at teachers everywhere, but especially those whose students consist of troubled youth that lack structure and discipline outside of school. It explores the experiences of a former United States Marine in her first years teaching at an inner city California high school and delves into the ways in which she was able to overcome her students’ lack of seriousness in regard to learning.
29. There Are No Children Here (Alex Kotlowitz)
The book follows two brothers, Pharoah and Lafayette Rivers, living in the Henry Horner Homes, a Chicago public housing complex. The author, Alex Kotlowitz, meets the boys first when they were ten and seven, and he documents the terror of young children living in the projects. An important text that will promptly educate any teacher on either side of the fence with the plight of poor children who are molded by their toxic environment. The author humanizes that environment, bringing the society that it creates to light and hopefully offers insight on the diverging paths the two brothers take.
30. Nothing’s Impossible (Lorraine Monroe)
Lorraine Monroe founded Fredrick Douglass Academy, a public school built with the guiding belief that caring teachers and a creative environment could protect and guide the futures of the students of inner-city Harlem. Utilizing the “Monroe Doctrine,” developed over her many years as both principle and teacher in some of the most difficult schools in the nation, she shares the story of how she shaped Fredrick Douglass Academy into one of the best schools in the country. Another must read for teachers, She inspires hope and teaches her peers how to succeed against the toughest of challenges.
31. Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Paulo Freire)
A seminal text, Pedagogy of the Oppressed was first published in Portuguese in 1968 and translated to English in 1970. It has been inspiring educators ever since. A handbook for empowerment among the poor and illiterate, it has found new meaning in otherwise well off countries, including the United States, where a seemingly permanent divide between the classes has left minorities under considerable stress with few of the promised opportunities really available. A powerful read for teachers and students, it shines light on many of the trials and tribulations of the underprivileged and point to a path of mutual liberation for teachers and their students.
32. The Shame of the Nation (Jonathan Kozol)
The Shame of the Nation by Jonathan Kozol explores the contemporary education system and its effect on students. Modern education has caused a large segregation in many inner-city schools. As the schools adapt more techniques that are traditionally used in prisons, students, principals, and teachers are beginning to speak out. The Shame of the Nation is a must-read for new teachers who want to work with the system while bringing about change and avoid desegregation in urban schools.
33. Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope (bell hooks)
bell hooks writes about the challenge of ending racism and white supremacy. This compelling book discusses the importance of creating a critical educational atmosphere where oppression is dismantled and community is built. New teachers can read the autobiographical narratives and critical analysis. They can learn how individuals and groups can change the system and build a socially just society. hooks encourages educators to acknowledge and talk about race and racism openly.
34. Why Are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? (Beverly Daniel Tatum)
Beverly Tatum takes on a topic that is hard to discuss in any atmosphere and then applies it to one of the hardest, our schools. A celebrated authority on the psychological aspects of racism, Tatum not only brings this topic to the forefront but also answers many of the tough questions and then looks for solutions. For teachers, it is an enormous task to change the ingrained tendencies of people, and this book looks to aid those educators in promoting a healthy environment for students to learn about their differences and commonalities, hopefully lessening the dangerous impact of self-segregation.
Theory, Politics and History
35. Bad Students, Not Bad Schools by Robert Weissberg
Robert Weissberg illustrates the shortcomings of a school system that continues to reward failing students. Weissberg refuses to mince words in his book, punching holes in established theory and practices. He points out the gross divide between pandering teachers who scream about self-esteem and those who are willing to recognize that, heaven forbid, some students are simply smarter than the rest and are actively being let down by a system that caters to the lowest common denominator. Step by step Weissberg debunks the political pet projects implemented by both sides and instead offers common sense solutions to the real problem.
36. City Schools and the American Dream (Pedro Noguera)
Pedro Noguera’s City Schools and the American Dream: Reclaiming the Promise of Public Education is a fascinating read and one that would serve to be useful to any and all new teachers. The premise of the book is one that explores the concept that higher standards and more frequent testing of inner city students from low income families does and will not necessarily lead to more educated students. Noguera argues that the true problems and solutions lie within the communities in which these students live, and that bettering these communities is just as important as educating these students.
37. The Death and Life of the Great American School System (Diane Ravitch)
The Death and Life of the Great American School System is Diane Ravitch’s plea to protect the future of public education. A former assistant secretary of education, She analyzes her forty years of experience to offer up an educated view of what is currently wrong with our crumbling school system and with extensive interviews among a broad range of professionals, Ravitch develops what she believes to be the conclusion. Throughout the work she discusses her long standing opinions and is not afraid to admit that even many of her own strong convictions have been wrong. Her insights are vitally important for teachers today.
38. Happiness and Education (Nel Noddings)
Happiness and Education by Nel Noddings is a work of educational philosophy that investigates the role happiness plays or should play in education. Noddings criticizes education’s current focus on largely economic goals such as test scores, job placement, and earning potential. The book’s argument is that educators should place more focus on less quantifiable goals such as building interpersonal relationships, encouraging personal growth, and finding work that is personally satisfying, in other words: results related to the student’s happiness. This book would be especially helpful for new teachers considering what outcomes they hope to achieve in the classroom.
39. School: The Story of American Public Education (Sarah Mondale)
School: The Story of American Public Education is an important text for teachers of all stations, including educators from outside the United States. Written by several historians of education, and edited seamlessly by Sarah Mondale, the book chronicles the history of American education from the beginning. Broken into four sections of history, the text explores all the important eras of education with a well written narrative and stunning photographs. A book that truly belongs in any educators study or library, it can be enjoyed by anyone with a curiosity about the history of education in America.
40. Teachers as Intellectuals (Henry A. Giroux)
Henry A. Giroux’s book Teachers as Intellectuals explores the roles that educators and educational institutions play in society as well as the importance of teachers’ views of these roles. This book can be very useful to new teachers in that it explains how and why it is vital for them to view themselves not only as an expert on the particular subject or subjects that they teach, but also as intellectuals who are aware of and knowledgeable in academic subjects and disciplines other than their own and use their minds to contribute to the public good.
Motivation and Discipline
41. Discipline with Dignity (Richard Curwin)
Discipline with Dignity addresses the most common discipline problems faced by new teachers. It offers a liberal approach to learning that may be useful when dealing with difficult students. The approaches encourage teachers to give students more freedom in choosing assignments. The recommendations allow the teacher to remain in control of the classroom while giving students some leeway, and it also gives tips on how to encourage students to be more accountable for their actions. This is a must-read for new teachers that are not accustomed to disciplining students. Older teachers could also benefit from the alternative discipline methods discussed.
42. Getting the Buggers to Behave (Sue Cowley)
As the title implies, Getting the Buggers to Behave by Sue Cowley uses a sense of humor and some whimsical writing to explain the best classroom management practices. New teachers are often overwhelmed by this facet of education, but the book guides educators of both youngsters and older students how to tackle both the common and the extraordinary circumstances that evolve in the classroom. No matter what type of class you are teaching or what the student makeup is, Cowley thoroughly explains some tactics that can help you have the best possible classroom management skills in the school.
43. Motivating Students Who Don’t Care (Allen N. Mendler)
Motivating Students Who Don’t Care by Allen N. Mendler will help anyone improve as a teacher by giving them the tools to deal with the most troubling students possible. Dealing with uninterested students is part of teaching, but Mendler has found several key ways to connect with these students and help them learn. This is a skill that most teachers do not have when they start the job, which is why Motivating Students Who Don’t Care is an excellent book for new teachers to read. It will give a new teacher confidence knowing that they are prepared for any situation they will face on the job.
44. Reluctant Disciplinarian (Gary Rubinstein)
Reluctant Disciplinarian is a hilarious personal account of Gary Rubinstein’s first years as a teacher. Like most teachers that go into the profession with idealistic visions of the noble pursuit, he quickly looses control of the classroom, over run by aggressive and ruthless middle schoolers. Over the first four years he goes from the softest and weakest teacher in the school to teacher of the year. He humorously enlightens the reader with his knowledge in this fast paced and anecdote laden book. If you’re a teacher locked in a power struggle with your class, this will definitely cheer you up.
45. Teaching With Love & Logic (Jim Fay and David Funk)
Teaching With Love & Logic is an invaluable resource for new teachers entering the classroom and veterans alike. Offering an empathetic and common sense framework for interacting with children, the book provides powerful strategies for becoming an empowered guide to students of any age. With this book, educators are able to develop the skills that allow them to evoke discipline and classroom management. Going above and beyond the teachings of traditional training programs, the authors Jim Fay and David Funk’s combined years of experience serve to provide the psychological explanation for time-tested techniques that actually work in the real world.
46. The Tough Kid Book (Ginger Rhode, William R. Jenson, Kenton Reavis)
The Tough Kid Book is a powerful go-to manual for the new teacher. It details techniques and tactics for dealing with disruptive or aggressive students. It attempts to translate the mindset of these troublesome would be bullies and how to disassemble their behavior in the quickest way while teaching the children about how their behavior will effect the outcome of any situation. Put simply, the book will show any teacher how to handle any student in a way that quickly puts the student on the path to proper behavior with a deep understanding of how everyone benefits from it.
Math and Reading
47. Every Minute Counts (David R. Johnson)
Every Minute Counts is an amazing book that all math teachers should take the time to read. Because the book gives so many excellent pointers on how to effectively and efficiently manage a classroom, it is an especially beneficial tool for new teachers. Every Minute Counts discusses the importance of classroom time management and explains how a teacher’s proper use of time will add to the overall learning experience for students. The book also discusses the importance of topics such as quizzes, homework, and group work.
48. How 2 Gerbils, 20 Goldfish, 200 Games, 2000 Books and I Taught Them How to Read (Steven Daniels)
Published in 1971, meet a teacher who finds creative ways to inspire impoverished and illiterate children to read and discover a new and better world through books. He does this by taking high expectations of what can be and combining them with an intense focus on helping the children in his class overcome the obstacles to becoming lifelong readers and achievers. Inspiring and relevant for today in the face of the ongoing struggles of both urban and rural school districts across the country.
49. I Read It, But I Don’t Get It (Cris Tovani)
Written by teacher Cris Tovani, I Read It, But I Don’t Get It is perfect for teachers struggling to help students understand their textbooks and literature. Utilizing practical techniques that can help any child better comprehend their lessons, Tovani also connects with the reader as a talented educator discussing the challenge with her peers. The book focuses on real world solutions that are fast acting and easy to implement with children of any age. The book provides tools that the students need to measure their own comprehension while inspiring them to keep track and improve on their own.
50. Learn to Relax (Mike George)
Life is rough for new teachers. You have to deal with a lot of new pressures and a lot of situations that you do not feel prepared for, and at the end of the day, you really do need to take for yourself. This is why Mike George’s book, Learn to Relax is so useful and recommended by so many teachers. This is a practical guide that tells you how to stay on top of the pressures in your life while still taking time for yourself. Too many new teachers feel burned out and unsuited for their jobs, but the truth is, learning to relax can take away a lot of that stress.