MiddleWeb is brimming with resources and helpful ideas new teachers will find valuable. We’ve selected 25 articles that might be MOST useful before and during the first months in your first classroom. If you have experience but you’re new to the middle grades, there’s help for you too.
We’ve also included MiddleWeb reviews of nine exceptionally “novice-friendly” books. If you don’t find what you need, try searching our site for “new teacher” and your keyword.
Updated with additional articles, June 2021.
1. For Every Teacher New to the Middle Grades
Our central collection spot for beginner tips and advice is “New Teacher? Here’s Help and Inspiration,” curated by MiddleWeb co-editor Susan Curtis. Whether you’re a beginning teacher or moving to the middle grades, this resource points to plenty of how-to advice that will guide you through the first weeks of school and beyond. From creating an inviting classroom and establishing a well-behaved learning community…to meeting with parents and understanding the adolescent brain…you’ll find expert help here.
2. Rick Wormeli’s Middle Level Fundamentals
Rick Wormeli is a National Board Certified Teacher, the author of seven respected books in the teaching field, and an internationally known speaker on middle-level education. When we launched our new MiddleWeb site in 2012, we asked Rick to write a special article for teachers new to the middle grades. We published his response in two parts. Take a look! Part 1 Part 2
3. Teachers Really Can Engage All Our Students
Student disengagement is a major challenge for middle school teachers, says educator and researcher Jennifer A. Fredricks, who offers strategies to build classroom community and craft learning opportunities that encourage students to actively participate and succeed.
4. TweenTeacher’s Four Must-Do Startup Tips
Amid all the exciting teaching plans for a new year, Heather Wolpert-Gawron (TweenTeacher) shares four things that new teachers can do first to establish a solid classroom culture that will support learning all year long.
5. Eight Things I Know for Sure about Middle School Kids
Middle school students are a unique breed, says educator and consultant Jennifer Gonzalez, and they need teachers who are tuned in to the intense dichotomies of adolescent life and learning. She offers teachers new to the middle level eight helpful tips.
6. How to Create an Effective Teaching Plan
The most effective teachers know that if you want to have a great lesson, you need to plan a great lesson, say experts Todd Whitaker and Annette Breaux. Novice teachers will appreciate the authors’ handy planning checklist. Bonus download: How to overplan!
7. Three Questions New Teachers Always Ask
We asked teaching consultant Annette Breaux to write about three of the most pressing questions new teachers have in the weeks (and months) before they open their classroom doors to students for the first time. Here’s her advice on discipline, classroom management, and daily procedures.
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Steal Like a Teacher
Teacher Jose Vilson adapts some advice from the best selling book “Steal Like an Artist” to the teaching profession. It’s the age of the remix, he says. “Our world holds a ton of inspiration, and if we can steal it in the right way, we might make something new.” The best teachers do.
9. Advice for Passionate New Special Ed Teachers
Special educators share many of the same challenges all teachers face, says teacher and instructional coach Elizabeth Stein. They also share the same guiding question, “What can I do for children?” Included: Managing the co-teaching relationship.
10. Ten Ways to Sabotage Your Classroom Management
Even with all the usual basics in place, the small things novice teachers do could be wreaking havoc on their whole classroom management system. Middle school veteran Jennifer Gonzalez identifies unproductive habits, along with more effective alternatives, in MiddleWeb’s most popular article ever.
11. Five Special Strategies for Teaching Tweens
The developmental needs of tweens are unique, and flourishing as a middle grades teacher requires special skills. Teaching expert Rick Wormeli offers five customized strategies that are attuned to the particular requirements of the adolescent brain!
12. New Teachers: Creating a Shiny, Happy Classroom
Your first year? Now’s your opportunity to create a welcoming classroom where students will feel secure, valued and successful in the days ahead. Veteran teacher Cheryl Mizerny shares ideas that have helped her realize a “shiny, happy” place to learn.
13. Nancy Flanagan’s No-Holds-Barred New Teacher Advice
National teacher leader and NBCT Nancy Flanagan reveals the essence of excellent teaching in the middle grades by answering four questions that a new middle grades educator might ask. Question #1: How can I build trusting relationships with these students?
14. Use Writing Activities to Bond with New Students
“One of the most important factors in student achievement is a positive connection with the teacher,” says teaching consultant Barbara Blackburn. “An easy way to bond with kids is through writing.” She suggests two activities students will enjoy and you will learn from.
15. What an Effective Teacher’s Classroom Looks Like
Teaching experts Annette Breaux and Todd Whitaker contrast the typical characteristics of effective and ineffective classrooms using two simple but compelling bullet lists. Excerpted from the 2nd edition of their bestselling book Seven Simple Secrets with new teachers especially in mind. Note that these sought-after PD consultants refer to practice, not room decoration, when they say “looks like”!
16. Cultivating Passionate Learners in Common Core Classrooms
Educators can create classrooms where students control their own learning and still meet the demands of a Common Core curriculum, says middle level teacher Pernille Ripp. Writing for new teachers and teachers restless to change their practice, Ripp includes 10 steps to build a passion-driven learning space.
17. What Will You Say? The Power of Teachers’ Words
Author and veteran teacher Debbie Silver examines effective feedback, motivational praise, and the power inherent in the words teachers say to students about their work. Silver includes numerous examples of what teachers should and shouldn’t say. Great newbie advice!
18. Tap into ShareMyLesson’s Great Teaching Ideas
Looking for lessons to support a Common Core standard? Want to see what other teachers have crafted in your grade or content area? Amber Chandler recommends AFT’s vast ShareMyLesson website to meet these needs and connect with fellow educators.
19. Tips for New History Teachers
What should new social studies teachers keep in mind as they begin their first year in the classroom? No matter your teaching situation – advanced kids or students who struggle with academic literacy – MiddleWeb’s Future of History bloggers have excellent advice. (Be sure to read the comments.)
20. When Teachers Engage, Their Students Behave
The secret to behavior is to have students fully engaged in the learning process, says veteran teacher and coach Anthony Cody. It’s much more than rules and referrals. It’s really about the fun of doing meaningful work that everyone values.
What’s the difference between a STEM teacher and other teachers? MiddleWeb’s STEM By Design blogger Anne Jolly identifies 10 characteristics that really help set STEM educators apart. We think new educators with STEM teaching assignments will be more likely to get off on the right foot after reading Jolly’s entertaining spot-on definition of the job.
22. How to Build a Close-Knit Classroom Community
Students who feel a strong connection to their classmates and teachers are much more likely to persist and achieve shared goals, learn respect, and develop communication skills. Teaching expert Julia Thompson offers strategies to help build classroom communities that are positive, supportive and great places to learn.
How Middle School Kids Rejected Stereotypes (Source)
23. A New Teacher’s Big List of All the Little Things
Every school has unique procedures, traditions, and personalities. What if new and transitioning teachers, starting fresh in an unfamiliar space, had a checklist to make induction easy and systematic? Veteran educator and consultant Frank Buck supplies that tool!
24. Are You a Tour Guide Teacher or Co-Explorer?
Do teachers always need to be the tour guide and plan every step of the learning journey? Consultant Gravity Goldberg believes teachers can also be co-explorers and create opportunities for students to make their own discoveries. Her sample reading unit shows how.
25. Five Keys to Motivating Struggling Learners
Supporting and motivating struggling students is a challenge that seems to grow over time. In this article, author and engagement expert Barbara Blackburn looks at five keys that can help teachers build motivation and persistence while also setting high expectations.
Reviews of Some Good Books for New Teachers
► You Can Do This: Hope & Help for New Teachers (Robyn Jackson)
► Your First Year (Todd, Katherine & Madeline Whitaker)
► The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide (Julia G. Thompson)
► Classroom Management Q&A’s (Larry Ferlazzo and other experts)
► See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers (Roxanna Elden)
► Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight (Debbie Silver)
► The 12 Touchstones of Good Teaching (Bryan Goodwin & Elizabeth Ross Hubbell)
►Standing in the Gap: Empowering New Teachers Through Connected Resources (Lisa Dabbs & Nicol Howard)
And Don’t Miss This Classic: