Volume 4 Issue 1

Teaching to Make a Difference: Advice to New Teachers from Teachers Who've Been There

Editors and editorial associates of Rethinking Schools Online

These words of wisdom from the editors and editorial associates of Rethinking Schools grew out of a discussion about an upcoming book project during our national meeting this July. We asked the editors to share their advice to someone who is new to the profession. The comments are not meant to be comprehensive, but they offer a glimpse into the collective experience of Rethinking Schools - and may provide inspiration to teachers who are drawn to this profession because they believe they can make a difference in the world.

 "Your first years are a rehearsal for the rest of your career."

Darling-Hammond, L. & J. Baratz-Snowden. (2005). A Good Teacher in Every Classroom: Preparing the Highly Qualified Teachers our Children Deserve. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

Andrea Bien

A Good Teacher in Every Classroom is, essentially, a blueprint.  It aims to outline what new teachers must know not only to ensure success in their first years of teaching, but also to expedite the progression from neophyte to seasoned professional.  Co-editors Joan Baratz-Snowden and Linda Darling-Hammond posit that a higher level of preparation can not only contribute to better instruction in the short and long terms, but could serve to combat the high rate of attrition which currently plagues the profession.  Proper training of our teachers is integral to securing the future of education and this volume offers solid recommendations for codifying such training.  

Ladson-Billings, G. (2001). Crossing Over to Canaan: The Journey of New Teachers in Diverse Classrooms. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Kim Heuschkel

New teachers are often placed in the schools serving the poorest students and those who have failed to benefit from schooling, so the students with the greatest educational needs find themselves being taught by the teachers least prepared to teach them.  The beginning teachers experience few successes, and their own sense of failure drives them from the classroom.  Then more new teachers are hired.  The cycle repeats itself year after year. (p. 17)

Heller, Daniel A. (2004). Teachers Wanted: Attracting and Retaining Good Teachers. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Hilal Nakiboglu Isler

Teachers Wanted: Attracting and Retaining Good Teachers offers a direct, concise look at the challenges America’s public school system faces. Author David A. Heller—a veteran administrator and teacher—provides potential solutions toward the appropriate recruitment and successful retention of K-12 instructors. “Regardless of the political or economic situation,” writes Heller, “we have to take a long, critical look at the conditions under which we train teachers, ask them to work and remain in the field, and expect them to see themselves as true professionals” (p. 11). Pulling readily from academic and popular literature, as well as his own field experience, Heller’s work serves as a clear-cut, quick, and ultimately useful read.

Cushman, Kathleen. (2003). Fires in the Bathroom. New York: The New Press. Lecture – Harvard’s Graduate School of Education Multimedia Review

Page Fahrig-Pendse

Fires in the Bathroom, lewd messages on the walls, keys ripped from the computer keyboards, and trash in the halls - all symptoms of a growing educational problem that threatens to metastasize and ruin teachers’ best efforts at utilizing innovational instructional practices and engaging curriculum.  While we frequently treat the symptoms, we have yet to cure this problem.