5 Great Books for First Year Teachers

Ideally, these books would have been on your must read before school started, but let’s face it, you’ve been reading pedagogy, subject area and tons of other texts for school and the last thing you wanted to spend your summer doing was read more books about teaching. This list is designed to provide you with some resources to help you address areas you may find yourself struggling with in the classroom and also to provide insight into some things that college just didn’t prepare you for. I know it doesn’t even seem possible that college didn’t fully prepare you for what you’ll face in the classroom, but if it did, you’d be going to school forever. Believe me, I wish someone had shared a list like this with me when I was a first year teacher. 

1. The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher, 5th Edition

by Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong

Buy here

This list has to begin with the best-selling book ever on classroom management and teaching! The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher is one of the most requested books for what works in the classroom for both teacher and student success. This book contains the latest research, examples and stories, and so much more. It is used in thousands of school districts, in over 120 countries and if your college wasn’t one of the 2,163 using this as a textbook, you absolutely need to get a copy. You can implement principles and ideas from this book anytime during the school year and it will be a resource for years to come. 

2. Everything a New Elementary School Teacher REALLY Needs to Know (But Didn’t Learn in College)

by Otis Kriegel

Buy here

This is not your typical how-to-manual for new teachers. It’s written by a teacher and is a no-nonsense, jargon-free guide that offers a wide variety of tools and tactics for getting through every school day with “grace and sanity”. The tips are from someone who learned the hard way so you don’t have to. 

3. Hacking Classroom Management: 10 Ideas to Help You Become the Type of Teacher They Make Movies About (Hack Learning Series)

by Mike Roberts

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Hacking Classroom Management contains 10 quick and easy classroom management hacks that help you put the FUN in your classroom while teaching your curriculum and meeting all required standards. Mike Roberts teaches English and was Utah English teacher of the year who shares ways to create an environment that makes discipline, rules and consequences obsolete. What? Who wouldn’t want that?

4. I Wish My Teacher Knew: How One Question Can Change Everything for Our Kids

by Kyle Schwartz

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The author asked her third grade students to fill in-the-blank in this sentence: “I wish my teacher knew ____”. The results astounded her. Some of the answers were humorous, others were heartbreaking. They opened her eyes to the need for educators to to really understand the realities their students face so they can create classrooms that are safe, and supportive. She shared the experience online, #WishMyTeacherKnew became a worldwide phenomenon. This book shares the story of #WishMyTeacherKnew and includes many of the students’ powerful responses. It also serves as an invaluable guide for teachers who want to build safe, responsive classroom communities, but is also important for parents and communities. 

5. Educating Esme: Diary of a Teacher’s First Year

by Esme Raji Codell

Buy here

This book is touted as a must-read for new teachers! Esme Raji Codell shares the real-life experiences of her first year teaching in Chicago Public Schools. It offers a “fresh-mouthed and free-spirited” glimpse of life in the classroom from a teacher’s perspective. She shares the highs and lows of dealing with bureaucrats, abusive parents and her own insecurities, and most importantly, she shares what it really takes to be an exceptional teacher.

Run, don’t walk, to pick up one (or all) of these books! Not only will they help you survive your first year of teaching, but they will help you thrive in your new environment. If you implement any tactics from these books or have other book recommendations, let me know in the comments! I’ll be sharing book selections throughout the year.


Teia Hoover Baker is an educator, published author, and entrepreneur. She is an innovative, devoted educator whose career has been dedicated to coordinating programs that support struggling learners. Her passion is meeting students where they are and guiding them to excel. Her main focus is always what is best for children. Teia holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism and a Master’s of Education. In her spare time, she enjoys being Lovie to her growing grandchildren.

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