I started teaching in high school one year ago, and I have found help in books. Out of every ten books I found online, I bought one; and I kept about one out of every five that I bought. That’s a lot of books! Here are tried-and-true books to help you become a high school teacher.
The First Days of School, by Wong and Wong (I have the 1997 edition).
A book meant for primary school teachers, but it massively improved my teaching back when I was working in universities. Gives you the right mindset for managing a classroom, your attitude, your time, and will (rightly) convince you that social structure and procedures are the basis on top of which good teaching can happen. It is very easy to pick up, and if you can give it as little as five minutes in the evening, it will revive and cultivate your confidence and your work culture.
What Every Middle School Teacher Should Know, by Dave F. Brown and Trudy Knowles.
A very good, considerate and loving dive into what it means to be a high school student.
Take Control of the Noisy Class, by Rob Plevin.
Does what it says on the cover: gives you the tools you need to get a good relationship with students in class. From there I learned many cool techniques, like building an meaningful questionnaire at the start of the year and then sharing your own answers with the class, or how to give a compliment (yes, that’s something you can learn and practice too!). Very nicely illustrated and easy to pick up.
The Power of the Adolescent Brain, by Thomas Armstrong
I made major steps forward with this book, which let me understand what adolescence means not (just) in terms of feelings, but in terms of intellectual characteristics: how teenagers can/want to learn, and what abilities they are actively building. The book is aimed at teachers (the subtitle is “Strategies for teaching middle and high school students”), and crisply summarizes the state of scientific knowledge before exploring many ways in which you can engage with adolescents specifically. It’s a bright and positive book.
(by the way, Armstrong also wrote “The Human Odyssey”, which tackles a different, very ambitious topic, in an imperfect but novel and enjoyable way)
Tools for Teaching, by Fred Jones
Tackles the same topic as Plevin’s book above. Extremely well-structured and well-illustrated, can be picked up easily. Jones is very funny and gets to the point instantly. Gives you tools to not get pushed around and understanding what happens live in your classroom. If video is more your thing, you can find seminar recordings of Jones covering his content on YouTube.
Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics, by Peter Liljedahl
This book gives you techniques that will maximize learning in math. Liljedahl bases his advice on systematic, meaningful research carried out across different classrooms and schools. It’s darn good. I came across this book after seeing a class time-lapse video on twitter that got me hooked. Unfortunately, Liljedahl’s writing style is professorial and not goal-oriented at all, which makes it incredibly annoying. I was able to look past that, and I have no regrets!
The Classroom Behavior Manual, by Scott Ervin
At the end of my first school year, I wrote that I was struggling with the seemingly impossible duality of being both authentic and able to respond well to being tested. I found many answers in this book. Ervin writes about his own incredibly difficult experiences as a beginner, and is open about his own weaknesses and failures. He gives an excellent framework for how to approach problems in the classroom. Most useful to me in this book are his procedures for avoiding becoming angry (often a result of feeling powerless) and/or trapped in a one-way path to a dead-end. The book is not well-structured at all, with its strangely-named chapters and bland layout and cover. But it’s a real treasure find for me at work.