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The Novice Advantage

The Novice Advantage
Fearless Practice for Every Teacher

April 2016 | 224 pages | Corwin

Capture the novice mindset!

Get ready to teach as never before, powered by a fresh, brave mindset. With humor and insight, this down-to-earth guide reveals a fundamental principle: the best teachers grow through risk, reflection, and revision. Readers will learn how to:

  • Sustain the energy and positive qualities of a novice, while building expertise at all career stages
  • Develop a network of support to improve teaching practice
  • Implement new strategies that engage and motivate students

Learn how to teach with the daring of a beginner and a lifelong passion for learning and growth.
“Dr. Eckert highlights the value of seeking those “first days” throughout our careers – the joy and nervousness experienced in these transformational moments are critical to have again and again if we are to grow personally and professionally."
Patrick Ledesma, Director of Research and Knowledge Management
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

The Novice Advantage

Who Needs This?

A Way Forward

A Way Back

A Way to Make Our Work Easier

A Tool for Fearless Action

Part 1: Novice Mindset and Process
Chapter 1: Cringeworthy Moments - Why Would I Want to be a Novice?
Is He Serious?

Creative Struggle

It's Not About "Novice" Instead of "Expert"

The Growth Mindset and the Novice Mindset

A Brief Look at the Condition of U.S. Education

Lost or Taken Away?

From Cringeworthy to Desirable

Reflect. Risk. Revise or Reject.

Chapter 2: Embrace the Novice Mindset
Three Exemplary "Novices"

Novice Mindset Markers

Developing and Maintaining a Novice Mindset

Reflect. Risk. Revise or Reject.

Chapter 3: Reflect. Risk. Revise or Reject.
The "Four Rs"

Reflection and Your Professional Learning Network

The Four Rs Transform the Classroom into an Exploratorium

Reflect. Risk. Revise or Reject.

Part II: Practices
Chapter 4: Fill the Classroom
Create Space for Growth

Engage the Entire Class

Teach Students to Work Hard

Reflect. Risk. Revise or Reject.

Chapter 5: Motivate Pragmatically
Stop Setting Ourselves Up for Failure

Pragmatic Motivation

Apply the Four Rs to Motivation

Reflect. Risk. Revise or Reject.

Chapter 6: Expect More
Honesty and Transparency: The Markers of Effective Assessment

Give Students a Chance to Grow

Techniques That Promote Student Growth

Be a Warm Demander

Reflect. Risk. Revise or Reject.

Chapter 7: Build Important Relationships
Find What is Fascinating

Be Intentional

We Don't Just Work with Students

Connect with Resources Outside Your Classroom

Reflect. Risk. Revise or Reject.

Part III: Expert Novices
Chapter 8: Become an Expert Novice
Getting Better in Our Classrooms

Getting Better in Others' Classrooms

Getting Better Beyond the Classroom

Becoming Expert Novices

The Expert Novice Opportunity

Reflect. Risk. Revise or Reject.


“Jon Eckert shifts the conversation – and hopefully our mindsets – regarding growth and learning as educators, no matter where we are in our career. In his book The Novice Advantage, Eckert highlights the importance of thinking of ourselves as novices who are constantly growing instead of experts complacent with our practice. This book pushes our thinking on expertise as educators and is great fodder for book groups, Professional Learning Communities, or any collaborative professional conversation. A must read!"

Megan Allen, Director, Master of Arts in Teacher Leadership
Mount Holyoke College

“I found myself laughing and taking notes throughout the book. Jon's ability to weave humor with proven, field-tested techniques will empower both new educators and veterans alike.”

Mawi Asgedom, Founder and author
Mawi Learning, Of Beetles and Angels: One Boy’s Journey from a Refugee Camp to Harvard

“Dr. Eckert’s new book is a must read for every novice – and the teacher educators who prepare them for the realities of the early years of teaching. While filled with practical advice for the new recruit, his book also serves as an antidote for the scripted recipes foisted upon too many classroom novices today. The Novice Advantage does not offer 63 steps to teaching effectiveness heaven but a blueprint for developing capacity to teach effectively over time and learning to lead the profession that students and our public schools deserve.”

Barnett Berry, Founder and CEO
Center for Teaching Quality

“If you’re ready to laugh, cry, wince, sigh, and nod about classroom adventures (others and your own), this book is for you. The stories will resonate with any teacher who has had a “cringeworthy” classroom moment or two. As an experienced educator, I began reading Jon’s insightful analysis expecting to come away with a renewed reminder of the “novice” world; instead, I was schooled by a great teacher. We are ALL novices and should strive to stay in that space. It’s where lifelong learners hang out. Because we all begin something new each day, this book is not only for novice teachers—it’s for all teachers who want to get better.”

Ann Byrd, COO & Partner
Center for Teaching Quality

“So often we aspire to expertise with the false notion that experts are infallible. In The Novice Advantage, Jon Eckert paints a more realistic picture – that it's actually failures and rigorous reflective practice that breeds expertise. With deep case studies, practical strategies based in research, and amusing anecdotes, this book is a particularly useful addition to the tool belt of any professional, at any stage of their career. My recent shift from the classroom to teacher leader, then to non-profit leadership have forced me to rely on my Novice Advantage – I only wish the book was published while I was still in the classroom.”

Nick Greer, Managing Director of Programs and former Director of Science
Thread, Baltimore City Public Schools

“Eckert's book belongs in the hands of aspiring teachers and master teachers alike. He brings a writer's touch and a teacher's insight into what it means for educators to be lifelong learners in the context of their career.”

Brad Jupp, Senior Program Advisor
Teacher Initiatives, U.S. Department of Education

“An insightful and refreshing reminder for aspiring teacher leaders and those continually developing their expertise.  Dr. Eckert highlights us of the value of seeking those “first days” throughout our careers – that the joy and nervousness experienced in these transformational moments are critical to have again and again if we are to grow personally and professionally. Dr. Eckert highlights valuable resources and processes that all educators need for this journey.”

Patrick Ledesma, Director of Research and Knowledge Management
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

"Stories are a powerful way to learn. Eckert reminds us of this critical lesson more effectively than anyone in recent times. In his casting of continued development through the fresh eyes of the novice, he provides us with a special gift. You will leave Novice as a better teacher – and a wiser one as well.”

Joseph Murphy, Frank W. Mayborn Chair of Education and Associate Dean
Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University

“If you see teaching as a step on a career ladder, don’t read this book. But if you see teaching as a lifelong craft, worthy of a lifetime’s dedication, this book is written for you. Our education system has plenty of resources to help first-year teachers become competent. The Novice Advantage is written for those of us who want to move beyond competence to excellence. Jon Eckert writes “We need teachers who innovate, risk, create, reflect, and grow.” This book is written for that kind of teacher.”

Justin Minkel, 2nd Grade Teacher and 2007 Arkansas Teacher of the Year
Jones Elementary, Springdale, AR

“Jon Eckert has given the profession a gift we desperately need. Real help and real inspiration for real novice teachers (and those of us with a few more years under the bridge). It comes at a critical juncture, when the median years of service among teachers in the U.S. is one year. Unlike too many books for new teachers, this is not filled with quick tips or rote formulas, but rather with thoughtful, useful advice anchored in the reality of teaching in America today. Most of all, it is genuine encouragement, reminding us that teaching is a calling that requires systematic preparation, demands significant sacrifice, but yields eternal rewards.”

Renee Moore, @TeachMoore, NBCT, blogger, author
Center for Teaching Quality
Key features
  • Describes the best qualities inherent to a novice teacher's mindset, demonstrating how all teachers can embrace this orientation to continually develop skills that will lead to effective teaching and student achievement.
  • Of use for K-12 pre-service, beginning, and even veteran teachers and the leaders and coaches who work with them on classroom practice for the purposes of teacher preparation, teacher induction and mentoring, professional learning communities, book studies, and individual professional development.
  • Filled with dozens brief, funny, and relatable stories, examples, and interviews with novice and accomplished teachers to highlight the benefits of the novice mindset.
  • Full of practical tips and techniques to try in the classroom right away.
  • Each chapter includes sidebars that offer moments of reflection, end-of-chapter case studies, discussion questions, and action steps to encourage teams to grow together or individuals to reflect and act.

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1

For instructors

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