Cover Page

Jossey-Bass Teacher

Jossey-Bass Teacher provides educators with practical knowledge and tools to create a positive and lifelong impact on student learning. We offer classroom-tested and research-based teaching resources for a variety of grade levels and subject areas. Whether you are an aspiring, new, or veteran teacher, we want to help you make every teaching day your best.

From ready-to-use classroom activities to the latest teaching framework, our value-packed books provide insightful, practical, and comprehensive materials on the topics that matter most to K–12 teachers. We hope to become your trusted source for the best ideas from the most experienced and respected experts in the field.

For more information about our resources, authors, and events, please visit us at

You may also find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest:

img Jossey-Bass K–12 Education

img Jbeducation

img jbeducation

The First-Year Teacher's Survival Guide

Ready-to-Use Strategies, Tools & Activities for Meeting the Challenges of Each School Day

Fourth Edition

Julia G. Thompson

Figure depicts the growth of a tree from seed in six steps.

For Phil, with gratitude, love, and admiration

Please visit for free online access to templates, checklists, video clips, and other useful content.


About the Author

Photograph depicts Julia G. Thompson. Julia G. Thompson received her BA in English from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia. She was a teacher in the public schools of Virginia, Arizona, and North Carolina for forty years. Thompson taught a variety of courses, including freshman composition at Virginia Tech, English in all secondary grades, mining, geography, reading, home economics, math, civics, Arizona history, physical education, special education, graduation equivalency preparation, and employment skills. Her students have been diverse in ethnicity as well as in age, ranging from seventh graders to adults.

Thompson recently retired as a classroom teacher but continues to be an active speaker, consultant, mentor, and advocate for first-year teachers. Author of Discipline Survival Guide for the Secondary Teacher, First-Year Teacher's Checklist, and The First-Year Teacher's Survival Guide, Thompson also provides advice on a variety of education topics through her website,; on her blog,; and on Twitter,


I am grateful to my editor, Kate Gagnon, for her encouragement and patience during the preparation of this book.

Thank you to the faculty, staff, and students of two excellent schools: Windsor High School in Isle of Wight County, Virginia, and Langley High School in McLean, Virginia. I was honored to have been a teacher in both of these schools. It was a privilege to work with so many knowledgeable, caring teachers who represent the highest standards of professionalism.

Special thanks to the following thoughtful educators who offered their wise counsel and who could remember what it's like to be a first-year teacher:

Michael A. Barrs Deborah McManaway
Jennifer Burns Laura Moore
Anna Aslin Cohen Jay O'Rourke
Edward Gardner Shelly Sambiase
Kevin Healy Margaret R. Scheirer
Vivian Jewell Luann West ScottJared Sronce
Betsy Jones Jessica Statz
Mary Landis Jeff Vande Sande

About This Survival Guide

This is the book that I needed as a first-year teacher. I knew a great deal about the content I was expected to teach, but I did not know very much at all about the students who would be occupying the desks in my new classroom. I did not know how to set up a grade book or administer a test or grade papers. I did not know what to do when a student talked back, told me a lie, or stopped paying attention to my carefully planned lesson. Worst of all, I did not even know where to begin to look for the answers that I needed then.

If you are like me, there is a great deal about our profession that intrigues you. You may feel uncertain at times about what to do, but you can also feel pretty confident when things go as planned. It's a great feeling to look around your classroom and to realize that everyone is learning. As a first-year teacher, you know what you and your students are supposed to achieve, but you are not always sure how to proceed.

Almost everyone begins a teaching career with the same emotions. Many veteran teachers also suffered through the tough days when they didn't know what to do and gloried in the days when they were able to engage every student in the magic of learning. Even though you may have a great deal to learn about your new profession, your teaching career can still be immensely satisfying. Every day is a new opportunity to make a difference in a child's life. Your first years as a teacher can be years of dynamic professional growth and personal fulfillment as you learn how to master your new responsibilities.

Helping you enjoy success in the first years of your career is the goal of The First-Year Teacher's Survival Guide. The suggestions and strategies in these pages can help you develop into a skillful classroom teacher who remains enthusiastic about the possibilities in every student. For instance, in this book you'll find

In response to the numerous requests for advice I receive from first-year teachers, in the fourth edition you will find a great deal of information and help on how to prevent, minimize, or handle classroom discipline issues, including a quick how-to guide to some of the most common problems all teachers must deal with. You will also find a wealth of advice about how to create those important relationships with your students to help them be successful in a supportive classroom community.

Other new material in the fourth edition includes information and resources about such timely topics as

The First-Year Teacher's Survival Guide was written to help K–12 teachers meet the challenges that each school day brings. In these pages, you will find the answers to the most common how-to questions that many first-year teachers have:

The First-Year Teacher's Survival Guide is designed to be a helpful resource tool for busy teachers. Don't start at page one and try to slog through to the last page. Instead, think of this book as a reference or guidebook–a resource filled with classroom-tested knowledge for teachers who need answers and advice in a hurry. There are plenty of topics written with your needs in mind. Here's how to get started:

After you have a good idea of the layout of the book, you can then find the specific information that you need to know. Here are some tips to help you with this:

Turn to these pages to find information about

Turn to these pages to find information about

Turn to these pages to find information about

Turn to these pages to find information about

Turn to these pages to find information about

However you choose to use this book, it was designed to be an interactive experience. Use a pencil to fill in the assessments, set your goals, and scribble notes as you read each section. Highlight. Underline. Annotate information about the links and resources. Dog-ear the pages. Place bookmarks in the sections that appeal to you.

The information in these pages is there to help you become the self-assured and knowledgeable educator that you dreamed of being when you chose your new career. From the first day of school to the last day, you can be one of the greatest assets that our world can have–an effective teacher.

With patience and practice, you can realize your professional dreams. Millions of others have done it; you can, too. Your first years as a teacher can set you on the path to achieving the satisfaction that only a career in education can bring.

Best wishes for a gratifying and enjoyable first year!

Julia G. Thompson

For more information on how you can have a successful first year, visit,, or


Learn the Skills Necessary to Become a Professional Educator