New Teacher Book cover

The New Teacher Book-3rd Edition

Finding purpose, balance, and hope during your first years in the classroom

Edited by Linda Christensen, Stan Karp, Bob Peterson, and Moé Yonamine

Available in:

Paperback: $24.95

Epub: $9.95

Discussion Guide:

PDF: Free

Publication Date: March 8, 2019

ISBN: 9780942961034

Newly revised and expanded third edition!

This expanded third edition of The New Teacher Book grew out of Rethinking Schools workshops with early career teachers. It offers practical guidance on how to flourish in schools and classrooms and connect in meaningful ways with students and families from all cultures and backgrounds.

 2019 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards Finalist

“I wish I had had The New Teacher Book when I started. But I have it now. We all have it now. Read it. Learn from it. Use it to change the world.”
Lily Eskelsen Garcia
President, National Education Association

“This new edition of The New Teacher Book delivers powerful stories and lessons that will help new teachers infuse social justice ideals in their classrooms every day.”
Randi Weingarten
President, American Federation of Teachers

The New Teacher Book offers a roadmap for sustaining a career as a social justice educator. It’s the kind of vision we need to fill classrooms with learning and hope.”
Linda Darling-Hammond
Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus, Stanford University

“This book shows how teachers can work with compassion, creativity, and a commitment to social justice. For teachers who seek to make a difference, it will be a source of inspiration and a guide for how to sustain yourself during these difficult times.”
Pedro Noguera
Distinguished Professor of Education, UCLA

“Rethinking Schools is an invaluable teaching, union, and movement resource, and The New Teacher Book shows the way.”
Alex Caputo Pearl
President, United Teachers of Los Angeles

“My first year of teaching at an urban high school was trial by fire, and in my attempts to teach my students well, I was always looking for books that would illuminate my experience and hone my teaching practice. Most books were fine; there was nothing necessarily wrong with them. But they always seemed to neglect the things that mattered most.

The New Teacher Book is an outlier in that it is solely comprised of what matters most in education today. From how to set up a classroom to what to teach inside of it, The New Teacher Book covers the questions that confound and dilemmas that paralyze new teachers from a holistic, anti-racist, student-centered perspective. It strikes the perfect balance of pieces that comfort and pieces that challenge.”
Rose Peterson
High School English Teacher, Milwaukee, WI

Table of Contents:



Chapter 1: Starting Strong

Chapter Introduction   

Creating Community Out of Chaos

By Linda Christensen

A Message from a Black Mom to Her Son

By Dyan Watson

Honor Their Names

By Linda Christensen


By Hiwot Adilow

The language of my heart

By Moé Yonamine

Uncovering the Lessons of Classroom Furniture
You are where you sit

By Tom McKenna

Getting Your Classroom Together

By Bob Peterson

12 Suggestions for New Teachers

By Larry Miller

How I Survived My First Year

By Bill Bigelow

Chapter 2: Teaching for Social Justice

Chapter Introduction 

Creating Classrooms for Equity and Social Justice

By Rethinking Schools Editors

Black Is Beautiful

By Kara Hinderlie

Seeing Ourselves with Our Own Eyes

By Katy Alexander

Presidents and Slaves
Helping students find the truth

By Bob Peterson

Medical Apartheid
Teaching the Tuskegee Syphilis Study

By Gretchen Kraig-Turner

Q/A: I hate the textbook I’ve been given to use. What can I do?

By Rita Tenorio, Rachel Cloues, and Bill Bigelow

ELL Students Bring the World to Our Classrooms

By Kim Kanof

Speak Freely

By Lynsey Burkins

Q/A: How can I teach both content and language to English learners? 

Resources on Teaching Students Learning English as an Additional Language in ESL and Bilingual Programs   


English as a Second Language and Bilingual Program Types

Q/A: My students don’t bring back their homework. Should I keep assigning it?
Promoting Social Imagination Through Interior Monologues

By Bill Bigelow and Linda Christensen

The Read-Around
A reading and writing strategy

By Linda Christensen

Role Plays: Show, Don’t Tell

By Bill Bigelow

From Theme and Evidence Wall into Essay

By Linda Christensen

Resources from Rethinking Schools

Chapter 3: Challenges and Opportunities

Chapter Introduction

Mexican Education

By Alexander Jimenez

What I Wish I Had Said

By Anita Stratton

“How Could You Let This Happen?”
Dealing with 2nd graders and rape culture

By Zanovia Clark

Howling at the Ocean: Surviving my first year teaching

By Jaydra Johnson

How Do I Stay in a Profession that Is Trying to Push Me Out?

By John Terry

Dear White Teacher

By Chrysanthius Lathan

Restorative Justice Starts in the Classroom

By Camila Arze Torres Goitia

Q/A: What are restorative practices and why are they important?

By Bob Peterson

Girls Against Dress Codes

By Lyn Mikel Brown

Inclusivity Is Not a Guessing Game

By Chelsea Vaught

“I Believe You”
Responsive teacher talk and our children’s lives

By Michelle Strater Gunderson

On Behalf of Their Name
Using they/them pronouns because they need us to

By Mykhiel Deych

Chapter 4: Measuring What Matters

Chapter Introduction

Time to Get Off the Testing Train

By Stan Karp

What’s Wrong with Standardized Tests?

By FairTest
Authentic Assessment for Learning

Fourteen Days SBAC Took Away

By Moé Yonamine

Testing Assumptions

By Claudierre McKay, Aaron Regunberg, and Tim Shea

My Dirty Little Secret: I Don’t Grade Student Papers
Helping students find their passion helps them learn how to write well

By Linda Christensen

Taking Teacher Quality Seriously
A collaborative approach to teacher evaluation

By Stan Karp

Beyond Test Scores
Introducing the MCIEA school quality measures

By James Noonan

Chapter 5: Beyond the Classroom

Chapter Introduction

Moving Beyond the Classroom

By Stan Karp

Q/A: As a new educator why should I be concerned about school privatization?

School Funding Basics

By Stan Karp

Why Teacher Unions Matter

By Bob Peterson

New Teachers to the Union: Count Us In!

By Gabriel Tanglao

From Outrage to Organizing
Building community ties through education activism

By Ikechukwu Onyema

Why Community Schools?

Public schools as greenhouses of democracy

Q/A: How can I decide if a school reform project is worth supporting?

“Aren’t You on the Parent Listserv?”
Working for equitable family involvement in a dual-immersion elementary school

By Grace Cornell Gonzales

Blood on the Tracks
Why are there so few Black students in our science classes?

By Amy Lindahl

Little Kids, Big Ideas
Teaching social issues and global conflicts with young children

By the editors of Rethinking Schools

Action Education

By the editors


When the editors of Rethinking Schools first conceived of this book, we thought back to our days as new teachers. We hoped to create the book we needed in those sometimes exhilarating, sometimes lonely, often hard first days of our teaching careers. This book is meant as a conversation among colleagues. We hope it is a conversation that helps you keep your vision and values intact as you struggle in institutions that may or may not be those citadels of idealism where you imagined yourself teaching.

We wrote this book because it’s important for the profession that new teachers with social justice ideals stay in the classroom. Our communities need teachers who see the beauty and intelligence of every student who walks through their doors and who are willing to keep trying to reach those who have already been told they aren’t worthy. Our students need teachers who value students’ home languages and who know how to build academic strength from those roots.

We need teachers who learn how to develop curriculum that ties students’ lives, history, and academic disciplines together to demonstrate their expertise when top-down curriculum mandates explode across a district. Our school districts need teachers who can advocate against the dumbing-down of curriculum, against testing mania, and against turning our classrooms over to corporate-created curriculum. Our country needs teachers who understand the connections between race, class, and tracking. How else do we make a lasting change?

We wrote this book because we want you to hold on to those impulses that brought you to teaching: a deep caring for students, the opportunity to be the one who sparks student growth and change, as well as the desire to be involved in work that matters. We need teachers who want to work in a place where human connections matter more than profit.

We wrote this book because we have had days many days — where our teaching aspirations did not meet the reality of the chaos we encountered. We have experienced those late afternoons crying-alone-in-the-classroom kind of days when a lesson failed or we felt like our students hosted a party in the room and we were the uninvited guests. We wrote this book hoping it might offer solace and comfort on those long days when you wonder if you are cut out to be a teacher after all.

We also wrote this book because we understand the connection between what happens behind the classroom door and what happens outside of it. A key skill for new teachers is to see ourselves as defenders of public schools getting involved in our local and national education unions, connecting with allies among parents, community groups, other unions, everyone who has a stake in fighting privatization and corporate rule.

Given the full court press against public schools, we need to remind all teachers to not be so classroom-focused that we don’t pay attention to the larger political context that is shaping our lives in the classroom. The other reason to open the classroom door and peer outside is that new teachers’ survival often depends on connecting with other teachers for support and assistance for social, political, and pedagogical reasons. Isolated new teachers are bound to burn out.

There is a huge difference between having lots of book knowledge about a given area literature, history, math, science and knowing how to translate that knowledge into lessons that help students learn. All teachers, new and veteran, need skills to develop curriculum that celebrates the delightful aspects of our students’ lives. And we need strategies that address the tragedy of some students’ lives and the tragedy that the world delivers: misogyny, racism, homophobia, poverty, war. We need to discover ways to weave these into our curriculum. That takes time.

Rethinking Schools editors have assembled numerous books that focus on creating social justice curriculum: from Rethinking Columbus to Rethinking Mathematics to Teaching for Black Lives to Rethinking Sexism, Gender, and Sexuality. We hope you will look to them for curricular help. In all of our books, and in our quarterly Rethinking Schools magazine, we celebrate the lessons and units and strategies that worked for our students, that created days when we walked out of the building celebrating the joy of teaching.

And what we know from our years in the classroom is that we only get good at it when we do it year after year. So we wrote this book to assure you that you will get better as the years move on if you continue to study your classroom, hone your craft, read professional literature, keep up with news, and connect with your colleagues and communities. Teaching is an art. Keep practicing.