1st Edition

What Do New Teachers Need to Know? A Roadmap to Expertise

By Peter Foster Copyright 2023
    232 Pages
    by Routledge

    232 Pages
    by Routledge

    What knowledge will make you most effective as a teacher? New teachers are often bombarded with information about the concepts they should understand and the topics they should master. This indispensable book will help you navigate the research on curriculum, cognitive science, student data and more, providing clarity and key takeaways for those looking to grow their teaching expertise.

    What Do New Teachers Need to Know? explores the fundamentals of teacher expertise and draws upon contemporary research to offer the knowledge that will be most useful, the methods to retain that knowledge, and the ways expert teachers use it to solve problems. Written by an educator with extensive experience and understanding, each chapter answers a key question about teacher knowledge, including:

    • Does anyone agree on what makes great teaching?

    • How should I use evidence in my planning?

    • Why isn’t subject knowledge enough?

    • What should I know about my students?

    • How do experts make and break habits?

    • How can teachers think creatively whilst automating good habits?

    • What do we need to know about the curriculum?

    • How should Cognitive Load Theory affect our pedagogical decisions?

    Packed with case studies and interviews with new and training teachers alongside key takeaways for the classroom, this book is essential reading for early career teachers, those undertaking initial teacher training and current teachers looking to develop their expertise.


    Part 1. The reason for knowledge

    Chapter 1. What is expertise and how does it develop?

    Chapter 2. What is all that knowledge for?

    Chapter 3. What are our knowledge best bets?

    Part 2. Developing teacher knowledge

    Chapter 4. How do we retain knowledge in our long-term memory?

    Chapter 5. How do we automate effective processes?

    Part 3. Knowledge of student behaviour

    Chapter 6. How do we prepare for our students to behave?

    Chapter 7. How do we manage the class’s behaviour during a lesson?

    Part 4. Pedagogical knowledge

    Chapter 8. What does ‘the evidence’ say about learning?

    Chapter 9. How should Cognitive Load Theory affect our pedagogical decisions?

    Chapter 10. What changes long-term memory for students?

    Part 5. Subject knowledge

    Chapter 11. What types of subject knowledge do we need and how do we develop them?

    Chapter 12. What do we need to know about the curriculum?

    Chapter 13. How does knowledge of the curriculum affect our planning?

    Chapter 14. How do we use all that subject knowledge in the classroom?

    Part 6. Knowledge of students

    Chapter 15. How do we figure out what students know and what do we do about it?

    Chapter 16. What are the limits of what we can know about students?

    Chapter 17. What do I do now?




    Peter Foster is a teacher and school leader. He has worked in state comprehensives since qualifying as an English teacher in 2010. Peter currently works to support and develop teachers across a multi-academy trust in the South-West of England. His interests include teacher development and evidence-informed practice.

    ‘If only this book had been there for me as a new teacher twenty-something years ago. But it is here now, and I commend it to you. Peter writes so engagingly. He has a deep knowledge of teaching and a love of the profession. This is a book you’ll keep coming back to throughout your career.’

    Matthew Evans, secondary school Head Teacher, author of Leaders with Substance and co-author of The Next Big Thing in School Improvement

    ‘Starting out in teaching can be daunting; it's a steep learning curve with so many ideas to absorb that it can be overwhelming. With this book Peter Foster has used his experience to produce a superb guide through the big issues that new teachers face including cognitive science, behaviour management, curriculum development and the process of teacher development itself. Written in a punchy style with excellent summaries, great sign-posting to key research and further reading and lots of grounded-in-reality case studies from practising teachers, I can see this being incredibly reassuring and useful as a reference for any new teacher - and plenty of more experienced colleagues too.’

    Tom Sherrington, author of Teaching Walkthrus

    ‘This book should be owned by every trainee and early career teacher, their mentors, and senior leaders responsible for CPD, although teachers at any career stage will find content of both interest and practical value. It’s an incredibly rich and comprehensive text, covering a wide range of areas from behaviour, to pedagogy, to curriculum and assessment, with an evidence-informed approach and engaging, accessible style. What makes this book so unique and valuable is its approach to knowledge-building – the reader is taken through not just a list of the knowledge we need as teachers, but a description of what the development of this knowledge looks like in practice. How does "how we learn" affect "how we should learn to be great teachers?" – Foster has the answers. If you read one book on education this year, make it this one.’

    Ruth Ashbee, Senior Deputy Head Teacher, Holly Lodge High School, Author of Curriculum

    ‘In What Do New Teachers Need To Know?, Peter provides an evidence-informed overview of key aspects of knowledge that teachers develop. Rooted in reflections of his own experience, Peter highlights how teachers develop expertise in specific domains, from managing behaviour in a class, toknowledge of the curriculum. A practical user-friendly guide, this book is a must for teachers entering, or starting out in the profession.’

    Nimish Lad, Curriculum and Research Lead

    ‘If you're a trainee teacher, an ECT or you work with new teachers, this book is a fantastic resource.  It demystifies the process of improving as a teacher and is full of crystal clear advice.  I only wish that I'd had this at the beginning of my career!’

    Nick Hart, Executive Headteacher – The Alwyn and Courthouse Federation

    ‘This superb book sets out with remarkable clarity and credibility what any new teacher would need to know to hit the ground running in the first few years of their career. Full of evidence-informed wisdom, Foster's writing pulls no punches in challenging some of the less effective but deeply ingrained practices that exist in schools. Like any good mentor, this book takes the reader under its wing and supports them to acquire the knowledge they need to flourish, not flounder, in the classroom.’

    Andrew Percival, Deputy Headteacher, Stanley Road Primary School

    ‘In his introduction, Pete Foster explains that this book is a manual for improvement, based on the knowledge we need as teachers to improve. This theme is woven throughout the book, and Pete explores themes such as memory, expectations of students and subject knowledge, sharing research in an accessible way to help teachers understand the "why". The practical strategies and case studies which are embedded in every chapter are incredibly helpful - everything from how to manage your time, to approaching development through problems is explored. I found this book inspiring, relevant and full of knowledge that I wish I'd had access to in my first few years as a teacher. This is a highly recommended read for anyone who wants to become a better teacher.’

    Rachel Ball, Assistant Principal, Co-op Academy Walkden

    ‘Peter Foster has created a playbook for new teachers. Rather than suffering a baptism of fire in their early years of teaching, informed predominantly by trial and error, colleagues can feel equipped by the core mechanisms that underpin highly effective teaching. This book is the wise colleague in the staffroom, sharing not just what works, but the rationale behind it. I highly recommend a copy for any teacher seeking to understand the fundamental components of classroom preparation and practice better.’

    Kat Howard, DRET Teaching School Hub Director, Author of Stop Talking about Wellbeing and Co-Author of Symbiosis: The Curriculum and the Classroom

    ‘This is a terrific book which both summarises and preserves the essence of some key elements of our work. It draws on the current findings from research, making it clear that these are insights, rather than three-line whips. Some excellent examples of what the implementation of strategies look like in practice together with accounts of Peter Foster’s own experiences makes this a compelling read. What Do New Teachers Need to Know? is an elegant book which will be a boon to all teachers new to the profession and an aide-memoire for their mentors.’

    Mary Myatt, curriculum writer & speaker. Curator of Myatt & Co

    'What do new teachers need to know?  is pitched as a roadmap to growing in knowledge as a teacher, and in turn to develop expertise... It’s a far-sighted glimpse through the fog of knowledge that surrounds teacher development.'

    Robbie Burns, Schools Week