Bill Gates’ TED Talk: Teachers Need Real Feedback

I’ve always enjoyed hearing Bill Gates give a lecture. Despite his being immensely successful in the technical world of software, he has a casual and down-to-earth style that’s engaging and easy to understand. I’ve also admired his passion for improving education globally through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

In this TED talk, he focuses on the idea of improving education through a simple yet effective mechanism – teacher feedback.

Gates points out that among countries whose students perform better than the U.S. (ranked 15th) in reading, 11 out of 14 have systematic teacher feedback systems in place as way of improving teacher performance. The U.S. does not. Teachers in many of those nations routinely get together to talk about what’s working, and many are also required to observe and offer feedback to their peers.

In one of his latest projects called “Measures of Effective Teaching,” Gates is exploring the notion of formalizing teacher feedback systems right here in the U.S.

Top 30 Blogs for Teachers of 2012

Top 30 Blogs for Teachers 2012Teaching is one of the most demanding professions and with new standards being implemented every day, it becomes more and more stressful. Teacher burnout is at an all time high as schools facing budget cuts increase the workloads of teachers and expectations continue to grow. However, there is hope, and one of the places to find hope, support, and help is in the teacher blogging community. There are many fantastic teacher blogs out there that seek to help fellow teachers, and share their successes and failures as they continue to grow and adapt to ever changing conditions. These thirty blogs are some of the best teacher blogs on the internet. There are five different categories: Teacher Stories, Teaching Philosophy and Practice, and teaching strategies blogs split into the Elementary, Middle School, and High School levels ensuring that there is something on this list for everyone.

Teacher Stories

1. Ms. Cassidy’s Class features many stories about her class and pictures of them in action. She details the class’ activities, tells stories about their reactions and the tender moments she experiences as a teacher.
Highlight: Practicing Silent E With South Carolina

2. Teach For Us is a network connecting Teach For America teachers with one another and the world for the purpose of sharing the inspiring experiences of teachers in the Teach For America program.
Highlight: Dear Students

3. 2nd Grade Shenanigans is all about the adventures this 2nd grade teacher shares with her class. The blog consists of stories about the kids in the class, the lessons they learn, and the methods by which the teacher engages the young minds in her charge.
Highlight: That’s Amore Pizzeria

4. Teacher Tom is a preschool teacher and his blog deals with the issues he faces with the youngest age group enrolled in school. He talks about how to facilitate everything from learning through play, to conflict resolution with young children.
Highlight: Kids in the House, Discipline and Conflict in Preschool

5. Will Richardson talks about more than just his classroom and their experiences. He also addresses the many challenges facing teachers as they struggle to cope with the demands of an ever evolving technological and cultural landscape.
Highlight: The Three Narratives

6. Happy Hoolagins is a charming blog featuring the adventures of a young classroom. This teacher strives to provide students with an engaging, educational, playful experience and shares the results on the blog.
Highlight: Pretend Play: Animal Hospital

Teaching Philosophy and Practice

7. Curriculum Matters deals specifically with evaluating curriculum options and strategies for building a quality curriculum that serves the purpose of providing students with a well rounded education that also meets regulatory requirements.
Highlight: Busting Up Misconceptions About Formative Assessment

8. A Zone of Proximal Development is written by Dr. Konrad Glogowski whose professional emphasis is on increasing middle school literacy and the professional development of teachers. Dr. Glogowski’s blog examines the results of focusing on developing children’s skills that specifically relate to their development.
Highlight: Downloading Evaluative Knowledge

9. NYC Educator is a critical look at the education system in New York through the eyes of a New York Educator. The blog tackles the issues facing education, including the disingenuous actions of unions and politicians.
Highlight: Who Puts Children First, Always?

10. Flipped Learning is a comprehensive website about an entire philosophy of education focusing on the integration of technology in the classroom to create an engaging, beneficial environment.
Highlight: The Flipped Class as a Way TO the Answers

11. Mind Shift is all about combining things that have been traditionally believed to be separate. For example, combining robotics and poetry; the idea being that the sciences and humanities can walk hand in hand in harmony.
Highlight: How to Stimulate Curiosity

12. Learning is Messy is all about wading through the morass of regulations and expectations to identify what the teacher’s primary responsibility to the student is according to the state, and to help the teacher develop methods that adhere to state standards, while still finding a way to actually teach children valuable skills.
Highlight: Being Transparent When Things Get Messy

Teaching Strategies: Elementary Level

13. The Organized Classroom focuses on providing teachers with tips and strategies for keeping their classroom in order, and providing students with clarity regarding the materials and the way in which they are covered.
Highlight: Homework Motivation

14. 5th Grade Rocks, 5th Grade Rules shares fun and interesting strategies for engaging fifth graders in writing in such a way that it also informs their understanding of other subjects.
Highlight: Show, Don’t Tell

15. Polkadotted Teacher shares strategies about keeping things fun and interesting despite the added stress of high impact tests on both the teacher and student. The blog especially seeks to remind teachers that regardless of how important these tests have become within the current system, these are still young children.
Highlight: How Did I Survive?

16. Little Literacy Learners is all about bolstering literacy in elementary school aged children, teaching them in a way that is fun and interesting with the goal of fostering a love of reading.
Highlight: Saint Patrick’s Day Literacy Activities

17. Schroeder Page is all about having fun with science, and finding ways to communicate complex scientific truths in a way that is easily understood. The blog focuses on active learning strategies such as raising butterflies and using them as a real life example of the life cycle.
Highlight: Down in Schroeder Hive

18. Reflections on Teaching focuses not just on teaching strategies, but on strategies for getting by during the hard times of the year when you, and your students, are sick or have allergies or spring fever.
Highlight: Idealism vs. The Probable

Teaching Strategies: Middle School Level

19. Middle School: Day by Day From a Teacher’s Point of View isn’t always a happy blog. The blogger focuses on the considerable difficulties faced by middle school teachers in addition to her successes. This is very much a “day in the life” blog that also talks about successful strategies, and how to cope when it seems like nothing you do matters.
Highlight: Effects of the 7th Grade Restructure

20. Confessions of a Middle School English Teacher shares strategies on everything from grading and assessment, to optimal seating chart manipulation.
Highlight: Seating Chart

21. The Jose Vilson seeks to find an alternate, more effective way of doing things as a teacher. He seeks not to meet the standards, and not even to exceed the standards, but instead to transcend the standards, and he wants to help his readers do it too.
Highlight: For Students, No Success Goes Unpunished

22. Lessons From the Middle is all about finding ways to teach students about engaging in life. From encouraging them to start a blog, to finding unique and interesting ways to teach pre-teens that actions have consequences, this blog is about teaching middle school, and teaching life.
Highlight: Light Up Your World

23. Life in Middle School is a blog written by a teacher who has taught nearly every class in every grade in middle school. She brings a broad perspective and her path has been consistently changed throughout her career, from being involuntarily transferred to a new school, then back again, and constant shifting between subjects, she brings a perspective to the table that is valuable to new and experienced teachers alike.
Highlight: The View From My Front Door

24. Surviving Sixth Grade is very much a blog about survival. Sixth grade can be one of the most challenging, and most rewarding grades to teach and this blog focuses on overcoming the challenges to achieve a fulfilling experience for yourself and your students.
Highlight: Spark Student Motivation Saturday

Teaching Strategies: High School Level

25. The Nerdy Teacher talks about how to mentor students while adhering to the standards set forth by the common core, and also deals with the impact of digital innovations on the classroom environment.
Highlight: Professional Learning in the Digital Age

26. Walking to School deals with the pressures faced by teachers and students in the school setting. From the difficulties that arise when forced to choose between aiming for good test scores, or igniting the passion of students for certain subjects, to musings about how highly student behavior should be regulated, this blog tackles many of the tough issues facing modern teachers,
Highlight: Be Nice, Work Hard

27. Math Teacher Mambo is written by a math and computer science teacher and shares strategies for classroom engagement and AP recruiting.
Highlight: Active Recruiting

28. An Urban Teacher’s Education deals with issues such as the effect of high attrition rates within the teaching profession, particularly in urban schools, and how to overcome burnout from both a teaching and administrative perspective. The blog also shares lessons learned through experiences that are particularly useful for those teachers working in an urban setting.
Highlight: Life Lessons From 2012

29. Adventures With the Lower Level focuses on sharing strategies with fellow teachers on various issues such as developing student lab skills and assessment strategies. The blog also recounts the author’s experience starting a robotics team at the school.
Highlight: This Year’s Great Grading Experience

30. Teach Forever is the blog of a teacher that loves teaching and knows that this is the only thing he wants to do with his life. The blog is optimistic, and features the author’s musings on the profession from a holistic point of view.
Highlight: What Will it Take for Zero Tolerance Policies to End?

Top 10 iPhone Apps for Teachers

Teachers need all of the educational tools and resources they can get their hands on as our society develops a greater appetite for information. Below you will find some of the most superb iPhone applications for educators on the market today.



flash to pass for iphone

1. FlashToPass Free Math Flash Cards

This incredibly user-friendly app is an elementary school level math program that uses flashcard visuals to perform drills. With a variety of options for quizzes and challenges that increase in difficulty, this app is a must-have for teachers and parents alike who want their children to get ahead in math. This program also boasts ten different language settings including Russian, Arabic and Japanese.



star walk for iphone

2. Star Walk™ HD – 5 Stars Astronomy Guide t

This 2010 recipient of the Apple Design Award is an amazing educational tool. As an early introduction to in-depth astronomy the concept is very simple. All you have to do is launch the program and aim your iPhone at the evening stars, and constellations, planets and distant moons all become accessible with detailed information as you move your device around the sky.



duolingo for iphone

3. Duolingo

This free language learning software comes in a super fun, interactive format and has enjoyed great success where other costly language programs have failed. There are no ads, and you get to exercise your new skills by translating real texts into whichever language you choose, which serves to translate the internet for the world.



groovy grader for iphone

4. Groovy Grader

One of the most time consuming tasks as a teacher is grading. Countless hours are spent weekly reviewing tests and quizzes and calculating their scores. Groovy Grader shaves so much time off your grading, you won’t know what to do with yourself!



flashcards for iphone

5. Flashcards

This flashcard program is from the next generation of study tools. Instead of having to purchase multiple packs of index cards for every subject you learn, this all-inclusive study system provides realistic looks, and a smart sharing and updating system that only requires a free Brainscape account to manage.



articulation_station for iphone

6. Articulation Station

This bright and highly engaging speech program is a delightful way to enhance diction, enunciation and elocution for all ages. With a variety of practice levels and targeted sound programs to choose from, this free little app will have you speaking more clearly and beautifully in no time.



pick me for iphone

7. Pick Me!

This app is positively essential for assessing that all-important class participation grade. It randomly picks students to answer questions, keeps track of their answers and can even send this information to the teacher, parents or students. You also have the power to control how often a student gets called upon.



pbs for iphone

8. PBS

This fantastic free application brings you the very best in PBS programming, including some of their most iconic and informative shows, as well as original online content. This app also allows you to reach into PBS archives for gems.



evernote for iphone

9. Evernote

This ingenious free program provides a neat, centralized organization system for your collected data across devices. You can sync files, create task lists, record voice reminders, take notes and become a more organized person with this app.



pinterest for iphone

10. Pinterest

Pinterest is a profound upgrade to the favorites folders of yore. Reminiscent of pinning a magazine cutout to a board, this program allows you to scour the internet and pool your favorite content into one centralized location which can be seen by and shared with each of Pinterest’s many other users. Create your own categories and follow other people’s boards. This free application is available on iTunes and will provide endless hours of internet scrap booking fun.

Resource Guide for Teachers and Education Majors

Education is an ever changing field. Teachers must be adaptable and willing to change in order to stay relevant. It’s not just a matter of keeping on top of ever more regulations, but also figuring out how to stay relevant in a culture where every year students have adopted new technologies, invented new ways of communicating, and understand the world in a different way than the year before.

There are numerous high quality resources available to teachers to help them keep on top of the ever shifting political, social, economic, and technological environments. This list of resources features some of the best resources available to teachers today.


The Association of Teacher Educators is a professional development organization devoted to the advancement of teachers and those responsible for the education of teachers. The organization was founded in 1920 and still is the only one of its kind.

National Education Association is the most prominent teacher’s union in the United States. If you want to teach in public school systems, you will likely have to be a member.

National Science Teacher’s Association is the foremost organization devoted to the professional development of science teachers. The NSTA also advocates for the interests of science teachers in regard to education policy.

Association of American Educators is the largest non-union organization for educators. The focus is on professional development and seeking a more collaborative approach to advocacy.

National Association of Special Education Teachers advocates for the interests of special education teachers and their charges. The organization also prioritizes specialized professional development initiatives for special education teachers specifically.

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is the primary advocacy group whose focus is on the needs of math teachers both in terms of policy advocacy and professional development.

National Council for the Social Studies is the premier advocacy and professional development organization for social studies teachers. The organization hosts conferences, and networks with other, more generalized teacher organizations to collaborate on the development of best practices.

National Council of Teachers of English is the primary advocacy group for English educators and focuses on advancing instruction in English, and the Language Arts through emphasizing the importance of literacy in the modern culture.

National Art Education Association is an advocacy group devoted to promoting arts education in the United States. The organization sponsors research on art education and enhancing the professional development of arts educators.

National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education is devoted to the professional development of current and future teachers and is one of the primary organizations developing accreditation standards in the country.


Ed Week is an independent, non-profit publication that focuses on addressing the major issues in education with a critical and discerning eye.

American Journal of Education bridges the gap between education practitioners and scholars. The journal seeks to encourage intellectual dialogue about the diverse range of education methodologies.

American Educational Research Journal publishes empirical and theoretical papers with the goal of contributing to the improvement of educational processes.

Teaching Education seeks to provide a forum for the discussion of innovation in education. The journal features an interdisciplinary approach designed to comprehensively address major issues in education.

Teaching and Teacher Education is an international journal focused on publishing articles geared toward advancing the discipline of teaching in a global scale. The journal looks at issues from a unique international perspective and seeks to highlight the best and worst of the world’s varying systems.

Emotional Evaluation and Policy Evaluation publishes scholarly articles focusing on empirical and theoretical research that has potential to impact policy in a significant manner.

Research in Mathematics Education publishes refereed articles that cover the subject of mathematics broadly. The focus is on original content featuring empirical investigation and theoretical argumentation.

Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance is a peer reviewed professional journal focused on advancing the cause of physical education in modern culture and education. The journal features studies and methodological expositions on physical education, topics include motor skills development, and overall fitness improvement among many others.

Applied Measurement in Education publishes information designed to aid in the application of the theoretical side of educational measurement to the every day practice of the discipline.

Cambridge Journal of Education publishes original refereed articles addressing major issues in education as a whole. The goal is to facilitate understanding and communication between people in all aspects of the field.

Teacher Classroom Resources

Discovery Education features classroom materials for grades K-12 for the subjects of Science, Mathematics, Social Studies and English. Materials include lesson plans, worksheets, and brain booster challenges among others.

PBS Classroom Resources features education materials across primary, middle, and high school grade levels. Resources include lesson plans on subjects from ecology to Shakespeare, and guides for effectively integrating technological innovations with the education experience.

Teachers First Classroom Resources features curriculum resources, lesson plans, and classroom activities for grades K-12. Teachers First offers both professional and classroom resources including Teachers First exclusives.

Scholastic Classroom Resources offers teachers ideas on classroom activities, tools to help with streamlining lessons and activities, curriculum resources and lesson plans. Scholastic also offers teachers ideas on classroom strategies, and methods for utilizing certain books in the classroom.

National Science Foundation offers teachers classroom resources useful for instruction in the sciences. The NSF also awards distinguished teachers in the sciences and has funding programs to help teachers acquire the materials they need for effective instruction.

Teacher’s Corner features a broad range of resources including lesson plans, to seasonal items, thematic units, worksheets, and other resources such as classroom management strategies. The site is free and runs on the donations of teachers to keep itself operational.

Classroom Teacher Resources features classroom management and design resources for teachers. The resources offered cover areas such as classroom discipline, success enabling methodologies, and effective teaching strategies.

Smithsonian Education offers extensive educational resources to teachers covering all major subjects. The Smithsonian provides educators with lesson plans, professional development resources, field trip guides and a large resource library. The site is searchable by subject and grade, which streamlines navigation.

National Geographic Educational Resources features many quality resources for K-12 educators. The magazine provides educators with many useful geography resources that can be integrated into any subject to enhance the students’ understanding of the world.

Teacher Vision features extensive resources including lesson plans, themes, printables, graphic organizers, and classroom management resources across all subjects and grades.


International Society for Technology in Education Conference features presentations and workshops on innovative methods of integrating new technology into the classroom experience in ways that will enhance education and not distract.

Conference on Teaching Excellence is a conference hosted by ASCD, an organization dedicated to enhancing the professional development of teachers. The focus of the conference is on helping teachers leverage their educational pursuits in the classroom.

Professional Association for Childhood Education: Leadership Summit is a professional development conference designed to help early childhood educators advance in the field.

Seventh International Conference on Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education is devoted to exploring the types of sciences and mathematics that should be emphasized in education to best ensure that tomorrows leaders and inventors will have the tools to build a sustainable and innovative civilization.

National Conference on Innovative Counseling Skills and Strategies may seem like it’s geared toward school counselors or psychologists but this conference is all about emphasizing the teacher’s role as a counselor. The conference seeks to help teachers identify signs and head off potential problems among their students.

Executive Skills for School Success: Enhancing Self Regulation, Reasoning, and Working Memory is a conference conducted by Learning & the Brain devoted to the goal of cultivating executive skills in children in order to prepare them for future leadership roles.

National Quality Education Conference is a professional development conference geared toward helping teachers innovate in the classroom, and to encourage creativity and innovation in their students.

National Science Teacher’s Association’s: National Conference is all about discussing the next generation of education and the strategies that must be employed if educators are going to communicate effective and meaningful truths in an ever changing environment.

NAFSA: Association of International Educators Annual Conference is themed around evaluating the best and worst trends in education on a global scale, and providing a forum for educators to collaborate on adopting the most effective strategies in education.

Top 10 Ipad Apps for Teachers

Access to smart phone apps and various digital applications has allowed today’s teachers to enhance their instruction and offer children a wider range of lessons from which to gain knowledge. There are a number of notable apps that all teachers should consider as helpful additions to their advanced curriculum tools.



my math for ipad

1. My Math Flash Cards

Offering teachers an enhanced option for teaching basic math functions, My Math Cards is a highly customizable Ipad app that is easy to use and simple for children to understand. Flash cards are valuable for children because they reinforce math facts through visual absorption of knowledge and also enhance math retention.



teachers assistand pro for ipad

2. Teacher’s Assistant Pro: Track Student Behavior

Measuring a variety of different types of behaviors and habits is essential for any teacher and his or her students. Teacher’s Assistant Pro allows for an in-depth recording of a variety of different behaviors for each student while also recording the various disciplinary measures taken to improve the child’s behavior.



brain pop for ipad

3. BrainPOP Featured Movie

Modern children consume information at a significant rate when it is presented in movie form and with BrainPOP Featured Movie it’s easy to share complex ideas and information with children through a fun movie interface. BrainPOP also offers quizzes to test knowledge gained and retained through the use of the app.



the elements for ipad

4. The Elements: A Visual Exploration

The periodic table is a large and complex set of information that can be challenging for any student to understand. With The Elements: A Visual Exploration, the periodic table of the elements is presented in a colorful and interactive format and lends itself well to knowledge retention, comprehension, and learning.



world book for ipad

5. WORLD BOOK – This Day in History for iPad

History is a subject that offers endless information and topics, and with WORLD BOOK – This Day in History for iPad, students are offered a beautifully graphic representation of history with valuable pictures and information. The app makes it easy to remember when key dates in history occurred and offers valuable pieces of information associated with those events.



sentence builder for ipad

6. SentenceBuilder™ for iPad

Learning all the complex rules of proper grammar often escapes children, but with SentenceBuilder™ for iPad, a teacher will be able to make use of a visual and graphic representation of fundamental rules of English for his or her students. The fun graphics make it easier for students with learning disabilities to understand grammar conventions through visual repetition.



grade it for ipad

7. Grade It!

Instead of spending time trying to compute the letter grade for a student’s assignment, using Grade It! is the fastest way to calculate the various letter grades for an assignment. The app offers a clear and straightforward interface to help teachers save time each time they grade papers and need letter grades.



learn spanish for ipad

8. Learn Spanish

Consistent exposure to foreign language lessons is essential for any student wishing to learn another language, and with Learn Spanish, even the youngest students will be able to learn essential phrases and words in Spanish and retain them while using this app through valuable repetition and a clear graphical interface.



science 360 for ipad

9.  Science360 for iPad

Not only are advanced science topics indispensable for lessons for children today, but it’s also essential to make sure that students are also exposed to today’s newest science topics. With Science360 for iPad, students will have access to a highly valuable news feed which will deliver all the latest types of science information right to their tablet.



cursive touch and write for ipad

10. Cursive Touch and Write

Students today are much less likely to take their handwriting studies seriously because they spend so much time typing instead of using a pen or pencil, but with Cursive Touch and Write, a student will be able to combine their enjoyment of using an iPad with valuable cursive and handwriting lessons.

Top 10 TED Talks on Education

Public education systems around the world have come under intense scrutiny due to uncertainty about the future of world economics. Loathe to repeat the mistakes of the past, innovative educators everywhere are pooling their knowledge and resources, and sharing their triumphs with the world. From astronaut Mae Jemison who insists on the cultivation of the arts, to spirited Bronx-based educator Stephen Ritz who has revolutionized indoor agriculture, these fascinating, enlightening and sometimes heartbreaking TED talks about education are among the most inspiring lectures ever given.


Ali Carr-Chellman: Gaming to Re-engage Boys in Learning

Former third-grade teacher and current instructional designer Ali Carr-Chellman demonstrates through shocking statistics that boys have a higher rate of educational difficulties than girls. She also explores the distressed educational climate produced by zero-tolerance policies, fewer male teachers and compressed early learning curricula that could be affecting the success rate of boys from kindergarten through university. Finally, she proposes educational re-engagement through the familiarity of gaming.


Arthur Benjamin Does “Mathemagic”

In this fascinating presentation, Art Benjamin performs and displays spectacular computational feats and engages the audience by inviting calculator wielding members to the stage to check his answers. He calculates 3-digit squares faster than any calculator and shows the audience how his mind arrives at 9-digit solutions.


Charles Leadbeater: Education Innovation in the Slums

British researcher Charles Leadbetter describes successful education systems from Finland to Rio and the common threads between them. He discusses the best ways to attract the poorest students to education and relates their success to a theory of vantage-point focused education.


Daphne Koller: What We’re Learning from Online Education

In this eye-opening talk, Daphne Koller, Co-founder of Coursera and third-generation PhD, discusses the cost-prohibitive inaccessibility of superior higher education and the lack of employment value that is symptomatic of lesser-quality education. She proposes free online courseware from the top universities as a way to understand how students learn and what educational tools work best.


Diana Laufenberg: How to learn? From Mistakes

Teacher Diana Laufenberg shares anecdotes about how children learn and details vast experiences about learning from failure and not squeezing students into the ‘Get everything right’ paradigm.


Kakenya Ntaiya: A Girl Who Demanded School

Kakenya Ntaiya’s deeply touching talk details her journey to education in Kenya and her eventual graduate education. She also tells of how she has impacted the lives of 125 girls by building a school on her home soil and the difference it has made in her community.


Ken Robinson: Changing Education Paradigms

Sir Ken Robinson discusses the necessity of public education reform around the world and why children need to be trained to become creative thinkers rather than good workers. He also outlines the three issues he believes are plaguing the modern public education system.


Mae Jemison on Teaching Arts and Sciences Together

Astronaut Mae Jemison explores why revitalizing art and science programs in schools will lead to bold thinkers and a more enriching future. In this talk, she argues that almost all of the scientific achievements of the present were built from the research and ideas of the past 20 to 50 years, making it vastly to our benefit to cultivate such curiosity now.


Shabana Basij-Rasikh: Dare to Educate Afghan Girls

Recalling the day that her father learned from the radio that the Taliban had been removed from power, 22 year old Shabana Rasikh recounts her father’s joy that she would from then on be allowed to go to a real school. Risking her life to get an education every single day as a child, she now runs a school for girls and women in Kabul.


Stephen Ritz: A Teacher Growing Green in the South Bronx

In this energetic talk, Bronx-based teacher Stephen Ritz details his extraordinary success with an indoor organic gardening program and how he helped to create the youngest certified workforce in the nation, while simultaneously producing highly successful students.

10 Greatest Novelists Who Started Their Careers as Teachers

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They say that those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach. Yet these great novelists show that a teaching career is entirely compatible with success and critical acclaim. Each of these renowned and respected novelists started their career as teachers and, in some cases, even used their experiences as inspiration in their novels.

10. William Golding

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Born in 1911, William Golding is world famous as the author of the chilling novel Lord of the Flies, about a group of marooned schoolboys who descend into savagery. Lord of the Flies (published in 1954) was his first novel, and it was followed by multiple other works, leading to him becoming a Nobel laureate and Booker Prize winner. However, before his literary success allowed him to become a full-time writer in 1961, Golding earned a living as a teacher of both English and Philosophy at Bishop Wordsworth’s School in England. His experiences with the mayhem that occurred when freedom was given to his teenage boy students, coupled with his military service, inspired him to write his ever-relevant story of civilization crumbling.

9. John Robert Fowles

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After the paperback rights to his first novel, The Collector, were sold for one of the highest prices a debut novel had ever received in the early 1960s, John Fowles was able to write full time, going on to pen such novels as The French Lieutenant’s Woman and The Magus. But before he became one of “the 50 greatest British novelists since 1945” (according to The Times), Fowles taught. He took on a role as an English teacher in Greece in 1951 and returned to England in 1953, where he took a position at St Godric’s College, a London all-girls school.

8. Anthony Burgess

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Another author famous for a dystopian work, Anthony Burgess is the author of the powerful and disturbing A Clockwork Orange, as well as many other novels, including Earthly Powers and the Enderby series. Upon leaving the army in 1946, Burgess found work teaching speech and drama at a teacher training college before taking on English Literature at the Banbury Grammar School in England. With this experience, he moved on to teaching in Malaysia (then Malaya) with the British Colonial service, which provided the setting for his first trilogy of novels. Moving on to Brunei, he continued to write, eventually retiring and moving back to England after he collapsed while teaching in 1959. Thankfully, he had his writing to fall back on.

7. Chinua Achebe

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Chinua Achebe is not only an author, but a critic, poet and, of course, former teacher. His first novel, Things Fall Apart, is modern African literature’s most widely read, with more than 8 million copies sold and editions in an astounding 50 languages. But before earning such widespread acclaim, Achebe found himself (by sheer chance) in the classroom. He graduated from Nigeria’s only university in 1953 and took a position teaching English at a run-down school in the town of Oba on a friend’s suggestion. The area around this dilapidated building is often thought to be the inspiration for the “evil forest” in Things Fall Apart.

6. George Orwell

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Eric Arthur Blair, the man behind the famous pen name George Orwell, is well known for politically charged novels such as 1984 and Animal Farm. Indeed, his name has even been turned into an everyday word – “Orwellian” – as testament to the enduring relevance of his work. While he had been a regular contributor to various magazines, his first novel had not yet been published when he began working as a teacher in 1932. Down and Out in Paris and London hit the bookshelves in 1933, but he still took on another teaching job the following year. His career in the classroom was cut short in 1934 when he contracted pneumonia, but he used the experience of teaching in London to inform his work in progress, A Clergyman’s Daughter.

5. D. H. Lawrence

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D. H. Lawrence’s scandalous descriptions of sex meant that when he died in 1930, mainstream society considered him little more than a pornographer. But posterity has better taste, and now Lawrence is recognized as a talented and accomplished novelist. Lady Chatterley’s Lover, The Rainbow and Women in Love (amongst other works) examined and revealed how industrial surroundings affected relationships, and to Lawrence that included sex and sexuality. After serving as a pupil teacher at a school, he received his teaching qualification in 1908 and began teaching in a Croydon school. His first novel, The White Peacock, was published while he was teaching, and a year later he left the profession to work as a full-time writer.

4. James Joyce

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To some a visionary and to others incomprehensible, James Joyce is revered as a groundbreaking and influential 20th-century novelist, with all of his great works of fiction based in and around Dublin, where he was born and raised. An accomplished student at both school and university (where he studied Italian, French and English), Joyce began sporadically teaching in Dublin in 1904 after a failed attempt to study medicine in Paris. He continued teaching when he moved abroad to Austria-Hungary and then Trieste, where he lived and taught for ten years. His first novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, was not published until 1916, yet it was his masterpiece Ulysses that would cement his place in the canon of European literature.

3. Aldous Huxley

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Often spoken of in the same breath as George Orwell when discussing masters of the dystopian novel, the author of Brave New World actually taught Orwell for a year when he had a position as a teacher of French at Eton. An Oxford graduate, Aldous Huxley needed to pay his father back for his college education, and so took the teaching position. Apparently he wasn’t particularly good at it, especially when it came to disciplining students; maybe the subliminal lessons and order imposed upon children in Brave New World while they were sleeping were phenomena he would have liked to see in reality!

2. H. G. Wells

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Although primarily known as one of science fiction’s early authors, H. G. Wells was prolific in many genres, including depictions of ordinary English life. In his early life he spent several years as a “pupil-teacher,” receiving an education while teaching younger students. He then continued to teach when he wasn’t studying for himself, going on to gain formal qualifications and working at Henley House School in 1889. He was interested in both the sciences and humanities, and covered a startling range of themes and areas in a career that lasted nearly sixty years.

1. Charlotte Bronte

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The eldest of the famous literary Bronte sisters, Charlotte Bronte is best known for her first novel, the gothic romance Jane Eyre, which was published in 1847. Prior to this publication, Bronte had worked in a number of teaching roles, both in return for room and lodgings at a Brussels boarding school and as a governess for a variety of families. This first-hand experience served as a knowledge base for the setting of her debut novel. She went on to write several more novels, with at least two more – Villette and The Professor – drawing upon her teaching experiences.