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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.


“The epitome of an "expert novice" himself, Eckert offers teachers at all stages of the profession clear, precise, and inspiring strategies for reaching students. And by recognizing the contributions educators make both inside and outside the classroom to shape great teaching, he elevates the teacher voice to its rightful position at the forefront of any discussion about the daily work of our schools.”

Jocelyn Pickford, Designer of the Teaching Ambassador Fellowship
U.S. Department of Education

The Novice Advantage empowers the hopefulness of education. It provides practical ways for beginning and veteran teachers to maintain their enthusiasm and wonder of teaching. 

This book covers, in a very clear, useful, and readable fashion, all the relevant and effective strategies of a successful teacher. This could very well be the only book an aspiring or veteran teacher would need to fill their instructional toolbox. The “Key Takeaways and Fearless Practices” section at the end of each chapter provide an quick resource of reminders to strategies that will bolster continued reflection and improvements.  It is a must read for all educators.

A powerful concept that is seldom considered is what Dr. Eckert refers to as, “getting better at getting better through honest reflection and transparent practice”. It’s the notion focusing on improvement rather than what was wrong and looking in the windshield instead of the rear view mirror.”

Robert A. Rammer, Assistant Superintendent
Wheaton Warrenville Community Unit School District #200

“With humor and grace, Jon Eckert challenges every teacher to let go of practices that restrain them in favor of practices that allow them to grow. The journey of personal growth means recapturing the hopefulness of novice teachers. As he writes, Eckert bares his deep belief that all individuals have the capacity for continued growth, that even long experienced veterans can get out of their ruts and tap into their deep wells of knowledge and abilities in the pursuit of improving school for all children.”

Joan Richardson, Editor-in-chief
Phi Delta Kappan

“This book is an authentic, honest, and humorous depiction of teaching. Dr. Eckert captures the heart of veteran teachers as well as novice teachers and tells the story of a profession that is unlike any other. This book ignites the passion of teaching and encourages all of us to try new things and ‘live on the edge’!”

Tammie Schrader, Regional Science Coordinator
Educational Service District 101, in Spokane, Washington

“Jonathan Eckert explores and expounds a crucial tenet of effective teaching and instructional improvement: When we take risks, when we fail, when we reflect, and when we revise, we are constantly learning. And when we are constantly learning we are increasing the odds that we will be continuously successful. Eckert invites us into the often terrifying, disorienting, but exhilarating world novice teachers to drive this point home. In a counter-intuitive but clear and convincing argument, Eckert tells us that we would all be better teachers if we to be more like novices in this regard, always learning through risk, reflection, and revision, as if we too had little choice in the matter. This is an engaging, insightful, and instructive read. I strongly recommend it to prospective, novice, and experienced teachers and to those who help prepare and support them.”

Mark A. Smylie, PhD, Professor Emeritus
College of Education, University of Illinois at Chicago

The Novice Advantage is an inspiring call to educators to make continuous learning and improvement central to their own teaching, as well as highlighting how important it is for teachers to participate in broader efforts to transform school and district structures to support continuous growth for all teachers and students.”

Kristan Van Hook, Senior Vice President
Policy, National Institute for Excellence in Teaching

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1

Jonathan Marc Eckert

Jonathan Eckert was a public school teacher outside of Chicago and Nashville for 12 years. He earned his doctorate in education at Vanderbilt University and served as a U.S. Department of Education Teaching Ambassador Fellow in both the Bush and Obama administrations. Currently, he is the Lynda and Robert Copple Chair and Professor of Educational Leadership at Baylor University, where he supports leaders through the Center for School Leadership. Leading professional learning across the country, he catalyzes teaching and leading for each student. He is the author of The Novice Advantage and Leading Together. More About Author

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