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The Onboarding Resource Every New Teacher Must Have

Updated: Jul 17, 2019

Start Here to Become a Teacher

By: Kate Walsh

“I genuinely wish I had been able to read this book before entering the classroom.”

That’s the typical reaction from teachers when shown a new book out from my organization, the National Council on Teacher Quality. Start Here to Become a Teacher is a first-of-its-kind guidebook meant to empower people who want to be teachers at the point which matters most: before they begin their preparation.

Armed with just a little knowledge, aspiring teachers can vastly improve the quality of their teacher preparation--no matter where they go. The book provides some suggestions on where to go but it also includes everything NCTQ has learned over the years about teacher preparation, which can add value to a teacher’s preparation no matter where it is done. Prominent in the book are the voices of real teachers courtesy of Teach Plus, a national nonprofit aimed at empowering excellent, experienced teachers. We intend for this guidebook to be helpful not just to high school students who are thinking about teaching, but paraprofessionals and other individuals enrolled in “Grow Your Own” programs run by school districts.

Google searches may yield some data on teacher prep, but the advice someone gets is all over the map. This book puts in one place all the crucial knowledge that future educators seek, as well as answers they may not even be aware needing yet.

So What's in the Book?

● Myths about the profession (the good and the bad), and even how to respond when someone says “you’re crazy to consider teaching!”.

● Guidance on the coursework to pursue as well as the coursework to avoid.

● With so many different ways to become a teacher, the pros and cons of getting an undergraduate degree to teach or delaying that decision to pursue a master’s degree or going through an alternate route like Teach For America.

● Key data on pay, from salary scales to benefits, as well as an “affordability index” which compares average salaries in a district to the average cost of renting an apartment.

● There’s also practical advice on pursuing the best student teaching opportunities, which are crucial to landing a dream teaching job.

Combine all of that advice with a comprehensive review of the nation’s top 120 undergraduate prep programs, and voilà - Start Here to Become a Teacher is the equivalent of getting socks for Christmas as an adult. It might not be the shiniest gift under the tree, but it’s the necessary replacement to the old, hole-filled ones!

The future teacher pipeline has plenty of potholes to be fixed. While NCTQ can work on bigger infrastructure issues (specifically through our extensive database: the "Teacher Prep Review"), young travelers on the pathway to the classroom now need a smooth mode of transportation. Start Here to Become a Teacher is that ride. A little guidance can go a long way, and in a world that is craving high-quality educators, we believe that this book can help take aspiring teacher across the finish line.


Kate Walsh has served as the president of the National Council on Teacher Quality since 2003, leading work to ensure that every child has equal access to effective teachers. At NCTQ, Walsh has spearheaded efforts to instill greater transparency and higher standards among those institutions that exert influence and authority over teachers. Notably, she launched the first-ever review and rankings of the nation's teacher preparation programs. Previously, Walsh worked at The Abell Foundation in Baltimore, the Baltimore City Public Schools, and the Core Knowledge Foundation. Among her accomplishments, she: started and ran a boarding school located in Kenya, East Africa, in order to educate at-risk boys from Baltimore; founded one of the nation's premier STEM programs, yielding numerous Intel Talent Search winners for Baltimore City; and, started the first alternative certification program for teachers in Maryland. A long-time resident of Baltimore, Walsh has also served on the Maryland State School Board.