From the January 2014 edition of Science Books & Films
Dunnan, Dana. Notes to a New Teacher: A Not-for-Dummies Guide for Beginning Teachers. (Illus.) Walden, Vermont: Random Recollections House, 2013. 228pp. $7.99. ISBN 9781491297643.
Notes to a New Teacher: A Not-for-Dummies Guide for Beginning Teachers is a fast read that is filled with lots of great tips for new teachers from a seasoned veteran teacher who shares stories about teaching and how his teaching changed over time to be more learner-centered.
He also shared insights in how to support his students in many ways, and how to view students as individuals rather than simply vessels to fill with information. Individualized instruction was an important emphasis for him, as was helping students solve personal problems. He shared strategies for teaching science that would help students conceptualize complex ideas in chemistry—the reader may even learn some science when reading this book!
One of the other very interesting parts of the book was the chapter that talked about him taking on a journalism assignment, and how even though he was a science teacher, and even though he had no textbook, he and his students won several awards. It was especially interesting noting his ideas for using the newspaper to advance some of his own agendas in education. It was interesting to hear his insights on assessment and grading.
Through many of his musings it was evident that he regretted not being tougher on grading, and in failing students who actually deserved it. This book was entertaining as well as informative, and it did not take much time to read. It would be a great addition for any new teacher’s library. Many of the tips can be used from the first day of teaching.–Valarie L. Akerson, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
$1.99 on Kindle, $7.99 in paperback.
Tom DeRosa did a nice review at his blog I Want to Teach Forever: http://www.teachforever.com/
Monday, February 3, 2014
Dana Dunnan has a few years on me in the classroom–about twenty to be exact. He has taught a variety of subjects at the high school level in wealthy suburbs north of Boston for a long time. He also worked at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and on education policy at the state level in Massachusetts. On the surface, I certainly didn’t see any parallels to my experiences in and out of the classroom.
Yet as I read Notes to a New Teacher: A Not-for-Dummies Guide for Beginning Teacher, I felt like I had found a kindred spirit. Dunnan’s advice sounds eerily close to my own, supported with stories about his students as well as interactions with amazing people like legendary UCLA coach John Wooden. The book is written in a conversational tone, as if Dunnan was sitting down with you for a few hours to chat about teaching, not unlike my own work aimed at helping young teachers.
Dunnan covers the most critical topics for new teachers: the first day of school, assessments, and dealing with students, colleagues and parents. This is not new territory for books on teaching, of course, but his advice carries the weight of wide ranging experience and is delivered in a way most teachers can easily absorb.
“An excellent book. One thing that I love about you, and the things that you share, is that you were a science teacher, but you also taught journalism. Journalism and science is such an exciting mix to be combined.”-Vicki Davis (Cool Cat Teacher) http://www.bamradionetwork.com/feeds/WECM.Dunnan.mp3
“A nice, easy read. I love hearing these stories. (The book gives) a really nice foundation for young teachers.”- Dr. Rod Berger, www.coreofeducation.com
“What’s it really like to be a teacher? If only it was just about teaching content and enjoying kids. But it isn’t and it’s complicated. Dana Dunnan tells it like it is as he describes his 26 years in the classroom. Notes to a New Teacher: A Not-For-Dummies Guide for Beginning Teachers is a realistic look at life in the trenches giving new teachers perspective, support, and ideas to avoid the many pitfalls they will face. Veteran teachers will identify with the frustrations and challenges Dunnan experienced and root for him to overcome them.”-Judy McKee, NSTA Reports, http://www.nsta.org/docs/NSTAReportsJan14EntireIssueFinal.pdf