A Division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Heinemann

Letters to a New Teacher

A Month-by-Month Guide to the Year Ahead

Jim Burke, Burlingame High School, California, Joy Krajicek
Foreword by Parker J. Palmer, Sam Intrator

ISBN 978-0-325-00923-0 / 0-325-00923-6 / 2006 / 208pp / Paperback
Imprint: Heinemann
Availability: In Stock
Grade Level: 6th - 12th
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    Joy's questions and Jim's responses evoke in us an appreciation for what it means to do the work called teaching with the "living intensity of soul." May such soulful teaching flourish among us: here is a book that can help it be so.
    —Parker Palmer and Sam Intrator
Every new teacher needs a mentor, someone smart, experienced, compassionate, and reliable to give advice, share strategies, and lend a supportive ear. What if every new English teacher could have one the nation's most-recognized master teachers as their mentor?

Now they can.

Letters to a New Teacher is the chance of a professional lifetime, an opportunity to read the letters and emails Jim Burke exchanged with novice teacher Joy Krajicek—letters in which Jim opens his practice, his mind, and his heart to guide Joy through her first year in the classroom. Jim fields the whole gamut of questions—from typical classroom-management matters to challenging instructional situations to sensitive topics like the boundaries of student–teacher relationships. His answers open the classroom experience up for novices to understand how to organize their space and time, how to plan instruction yet maintain flexibility, how to communicate effectively with the two-hundred personalities they encounter each day, and how to maintain professionalism under pressure.

As gentle, humorous, and supportive as they are practical, Jim's responses to Joy's questions are immediately useful and are presented in chronological order. From August through June, you'll watch as her questions become increasingly complex and see how Jim's answers build upon one another to create a considered, consistent, and disciplined way of thinking about the teaching of English.

Start a your career the right way. Read Letters to a New Teacher and put the thoughts of a master mentor to work in your classroom. Or give Letters to a New Teacher to a novice so they can discover a wellspring of ideas, a source for emotional sustenance, and a buoy for their spirits during difficult moments.

Fall Semester

1. Managing a class of thirty-five.
2. Creating a teaching unit.

3. Handling the pressure.
Interlude 1: A Difficult Student
4. Challenging all students, and meeting their challenges.
5. Knowing that you make a difference.

6. Approaches to teaching writing.
Interlude 2: Getting Discouraged
7. Engaging students, and competing for their attention.

8. Poetry for teachers and students.
Interlude 3: Substitute Teachers
9. What works and why?
10. Different types of teacher personalities.
11. Professional reading.

12. Harnessing self-doubt.

Spring Semester

13. Learning the most from each semester’s experiences.
14. Managing your time.

Interlude 4: Working to Improve.
15. The teacher’s power.
Interlude 5: Sexual Abuse
16. Boundaries.

17. The teacher’s role during a classroom crisis.
18. Student suicide.
19. Teacher/parent relationships.
Interlude 6: Juggling the Demands of Teaching and Living
20. Open House.

Interlude 7: Applying for a New Teaching Job
Interlude 8: Testing Season
21. End-of-year challenges and expectations.

22. Doing it all, especially with a family

Dear Joy: A Final Letter
Dear Jim: A Final Letter

Classroom Management
Action Planner
The Four Cs of Academic Success

In Depth

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PD Resources From Jim Burke



  • Invite Jim Burke to speak at your school, district, or conference through Heinemann Speakers.

Email planningservices@heinemann.com if you would like to contact Joy Krajicek directly about professional development support.

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