A Sustainable Start Is Finally Here!

The Journey
I was a new teacher, worried about the practical matters. How would I align the desks? How should I set up my rules? What procedures did I need? How would I do the bulletin boards? I wanted something practical. So, I sought out books geared toward first year teachers. I highlighted the texts. I wrote in the margins. I made lists. Then I made lists of lists. I felt comfortable going into the first day, because I had been so prepared.

Then I taught for a few weeks and I realized that I wasn’t prepared. I quickly realized that what I wanted to know wasn’t what I needed to know. I needed to learn how to lead rather than manage students. I needed a sense of paradox and nuance. I needed to build a better classroom community.

This book is a result of my journey. It’s the kind of new teacher book that I wish I had read before my first year. It may not be practical for everyone. However, I have a hunch there are others out there who will find themselves in tears during the first year of teaching. After reading so much about the first week of school, they question what it means to last for the next twenty-five years. This book is for the teachers who are saying, “I want to make it, but I’m wondering if I will.”

Instead of providing a list of rules, formulas and steps that new teachers need to follow, the author tells stories, makes observations and provides practical advice. In a style that is both deep and conversational, the author provides insights often neglected in books aimed for new teachers, including the role of shame in teacher ide¬¬ntity, the use of professional learning networks for professional growth, the need for paradox, increasing a sense of awareness, the need for humility in classroom leadership and how to build a better relationship with students. The result is a book that is practical, philosophical and personal. It also includes a New Teacher Toolkit with 45 resources for teachers entering the classroom for the first time.

A Different Kind of New Teacher Book
I know that there are a ton of new teacher books out there, but there are a few things that make this one different (though not necessarily better):
  • A different focus: Looking back, I thought I needed help with bulletin boards and teaching strategies. What I really needed was a hard look at discipline, shame, my mindset and my sens of awareness in the classroom. I cover a few themes that don't seem to be covered in most new teacher books.
  • A different philosophy: Many of the new teacher books rely on a behaviorist, corporate management philosophy. This book is for those who yearn for student-centered, authentic learning with a healthy dose of realism mixed in.
  • A different style: I use a more personal, narrative style of writing than many of the books written for new teachers. I write about my classroom experiences alongside stories from fatherhood and childhood. While I still offer some practical advice, I'm honest about my mistake and what people can learn from them.
This book is different than other books that I've written in that it's deliberately practical.  It is 8"x10" and written in a workbook style.  Here are a few features:
  • Reflective journal for each chapter
  • Specific, practical advice alongside stories and observations
  • A New Teacher's Toolkit with forty-five resources that I've created
John Spencer

Professor. Maker. Speaker.
I want to see schools unleash the creative potential in all teachers to transform classrooms into bastions of creativity and wonder. Read more →
Email me at john@educationrethink.com for speaking inquiries on design thinking and creativity.


  1. This is fantastic, John! Very excited for you and all the teachers this book is going to help. The promotional copy in this post is excellent, BTW--very compelling.

  2. New teachers: can I also recommend Phil Beadle's How To Teach - as funny as it is informative


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