Teacher training: book reviews

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In addition to your course reading list, there are plenty of practical teaching books and how-to guides you may find useful during and after your teacher training. Our trainee and NQT guest bloggers have reviewed three popular teaching titles to get you started, but there are many more out there depending on the phase, subject, or topic you wish to explore – so get reading!
 
1. Teach Now! The Essentials of Teaching by Geoff Barton (Routledge Education)
 
If you are looking for an all-encompassing guide to teaching, Geoff Barton, with a wealth of experience teaching and writing, is someone you can trust to know what he’s talking about. His book, Teach Now! The Essentials of Teaching, is written in a colloquial, engaging style which provides refreshingly honest insights into the job.
 
Teach Now! is aimed at people considering teaching as a career, or those about to begin their Initial Teacher Training (ITT) but it works well as a guide for Newly Qualified Teachers looking for a summer read to reflect on what they’ve learnt and prepare for the new term. The book is a perfect introduction to everything you will tackle in your ITT, and the accompanying website provides some excellent resources to help you through the year. Barton suggests that you use the book as a working document, annotating pages and responding to the ‘Talking Point’ questions and quotes from teachers featured throughout the book. This concept works well as the ideas raised will challenge you to discover what you agree and disagree with and will ultimately help you to establish your teaching persona. 
 
The book’s strength is that it contains information that you aren’t necessarily given during your ITT; particularly revealing are the chapters on dealing with the worst-case scenario at a parents’ evening and tips on how to write good reports (and avoid common mistakes). The book lives up to its name, covering everything you would want to know about teaching and offers practical advice about tackling your ITT so you can make an informed decision about whether it is the right job for you.
 
Reviewed by: Gabrielle James
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2. Teacher Toolkit by Ross Morrison McGill (Bloomsbury Education)
 
Having just finished my training course I thought I’d been taught everything I needed to know. However, as I started to read, I realised that there is a lot of useful advice and information in this book.
Teacher Toolkit is split into five sections, all of which contribute to the make-up of a ‘Vitruvian Teacher’ (Resilient, Intelligent, Innovative, Collaborative and Aspirational). It covers everything you could possibly consider in the teaching profession (I’m not exaggerating), including a section on becoming a form tutor, and a section on ‘Emotional Intelligence’, both of which I enjoyed reading and would recommend.
 
Throughout the book there are tips, tricks and lists to keep any teacher in check, but especially helpful for new teachers like myself. It’s surprising how many things in this book I hadn’t thought about before, for example; the importance of differentiating homework. The best thing about the book is the honesty; the author shares a lot of his own experiences, a lot of them from his training or early years, making it even more accessible to the trainees and NQTs like myself. These experiences were not always positive ones either, which is rare to find in teaching books. I found myself trusting his words of wisdom even more, having heard of his struggles.
 
All in all, I would absolutely recommend this book to NQTs and trainees alike. I think the smart layout and informal nature is not only clear and easy to understand but it’s an absolute pleasure to read and I look forward to using it as a guide to the first years of my career. 
 
Reviewed by: Lauren Gaisford
 
 
How to Survive Your First Year in Teaching by Sue Cowley (Bloomsbury Education)
 
There’s an adage that it’s only once you pass your driving test, and begin driving independently, that you truly begin learning to drive. A similar point can be made about teaching, as while your teacher training is intended to replicate as much of the experience of the teaching profession as possible, your first year of teaching is something of a quantum leap from where you stand at the end of your training, and so it follows that most people approaching their NQT year have an understandable level of anxiety. Sue Cowley’s How to Survive Your First Year in Teaching is a possible remedy to this, offering practical advice on strategies and approaches for the coming year.
 
Behaviour management is a particular source of worry for many NQTs, and the chapter on this goes into significant depth on how to form your own behaviour management style and strategies. This is one chapter which would be useful to not only look at before beginning the year, but throughout the year, as a tool to diagnose why certain strategies might not be working with your class at the moment, and what you can do to deal with this. Unlike much writing on behaviour management, Sue seems quite pragmatic, acknowledging that a ‘one size fits all’ approach ignores the diverse ways that poor behaviour manifests itself, and offering a range of ideas for how to deal with such behaviour.
 
All in all, this book, which is written in the same informal yet professional style as Sue’s Getting the Buggers to Behave, serves as a solid book to reference throughout the year, as well as a reassuring look at the profession for people approaching it with a sense of trepidation. While the NQT year is universally regarded as being a stressful, while rewarding, process, this book certainly makes survival seem more possible.
 
Reviewed by: Tom Savagar
 
 

Before you start your course

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