Book review: How to survive your first year in teaching, by Sue Cowley

I got "How to survive your first year in teaching" after finding some very positive reviews and it's been worth every cent -- from the beginning I had to stop reading to take notes and add bookmarks for future reference. The target is "real" teachers (at the primary and secondary level) who are preparing for the first year of teaching on their own after their training.

At my level (volunteer unqualified teacher), I found the book tips very good to help structure both a course and specific lessons. There are many activity ideas to try out in class and suggestions to avoid sticking only to one teaching style (e.g. lecturing) -- it doesn't matter what age group you're teaching, there will be something useful and I've already been applying some of them. I'll be re-reading the behaviour and class management chapters when I teach high school students again (having a clue what to do will hopefully help in these situations!)

For non-professional teachers like me, there are a number of chapters that don't apply, like class decoration or school administrative tasks. I still found them interesting on my first read-through though I'll likely skip them on subsequent reads (and I learnt a bit about the UK school system... for instance I thought "houses" only existed in the Harry Potter world :-)).

The kind of sections I bookmarked: activities to try in class, balanced lesson planning, setting aims and objectives, differentiation, resources to spice up lessons, assessing and marking (great to understand the types of feedback you can offer), grading and writing reports (feedback to students once again). I was pleased to read the section on differentiation and find that I had figured out a lot of it on my own, though I could definitely improve on differentiating for weaker students. Might need some additional resources on the topic. Anyone has recommendations to offer?


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