Not Enough Texts
The fact is that textbooks cost a lot of money. Unfortunately, many school districts are facing budget crunches, and textbooks are often where schools and districts cut costs. You may find that when you go into your classroom on the first day, you have fewer books than you have students.
You will not be able to send books home with students, which means that you will not be able to assign readings from the book to be completed at home. If you are lucky, you will have enough books to create a class set. If you are not so lucky, you will not have any textbooks at all.
Class sets of textbooks are common in classrooms across the United States. As previously stated, textbooks are very expensive. If one textbook costs a school 50 dollars, you can see that purchasing 300 texts (enough for two teachers with full loads) would be very expensive.
Many school districts that have money shortages may choose to spend less on texts. They often figure that if each teacher has at least one set for the class to share, they will be able to continue using the texts for their curriculum. Rarely does a school purchase texts for more than a few classes in any given year.
However, record keeping and organization can pose real problems for teachers using class sets. Teachers have to devise systems for keeping track of their books at all times. If a student has been sick, teachers have to arrange for them to check out a text for the evening to make up work.
Unfortunately, if a teacher has exactly the number of texts he needs for his classes, he may not even be able to let a student take a book for the evening. (Find ideas and systems of organization for dealing with textbooks.)
Textbook costs have risen in the United States at a faster rate than in other countries. The number of textbooks available for any one subject is limited, so competition does not have a great effect on price. Because of necessity, the demand for texts does not lessen dramatically with increased prices.
Worse than having to use class sets is the situation where you have no textbooks at all. While this will most likely happen because of budget constraints, there are some schools that frown on textbook use completely. Some administrators feel that texts lend themselves to a lecture and busywork mentality. By removing textbooks, they hope that teachers will turn to other more creative methods of content delivery.
This situation can be really hard for the new teacher. It is one thing for a teacher who has many years' experience teaching a course to be told she will no longer have a textbook. It is another for a novice to be presented with this situation.
Veteran teachers have probably collected great lesson ideas and supporting information over the years to supplement the text. With a little extra effort, they may be able to do a fine job presenting the material without a text. However, novice teachers do not have this experience. They do not have the time or energy to create their own curriculum in the beginning. In most cases, they are still trying to figure out how to best deal with student disruptions and organization issues.
If you are placed in this situation, find yourself a good textbook or set of books to use as your guide even if you do not use it with your students. Try to get your school to purchase supporting material and ready-made lessons to help you get through the year. Keep your eye out for anything that you might find useful. Lesson ideas can come from unexpected places. If you have real concerns about your lack of texts, talk to your mentor or other veteran teachers. Many times, teachers will have old lessons and worksheets that you can adapt for your classroom situation.
Many texts are accompanied by support material that can be adapted for use. Even if you are unable to use a text, you may still be able to use some of the accompanying materials. Also, do not underestimate the ideas in the teacher's edition of textbooks.
Outdated and Inaccurate Texts
Sometimes the textbooks you have to use are so old that the information is inaccurate or obsolete. For example, if your school has not replaced its geography books since the breakup of the Soviet Union, you cannot effectively teach about that part of the world using that book. Therefore, you will need to supplement this information with material from magazines, news sites, and other books to give your students the correct information. Unfortunately, this can mean extra work for you. When you do need to supplement a text because it is outdated, keep your lessons simple.
Textbooks are written by humans, who can make mistakes. Textbook writers and editors also have personal biases that make it into texts. Furthermore, interest groups and influential states can have a huge impact on what is and what is not included in a text.
All of this means that you need to read the text critically before you create assignments for students. This ensures that you are not reinforcing inaccurate or biased information. As you move through your teaching career, you may wish to have students examine certain pages or chapters in their texts for inaccuracies or bias as an interesting assignment.