We all have days when we feel a bit down in the dumps as teachers. Sometimes we need something uplifting that will affirm our work and inspire us to be the kind of teachers we want to be. I have three books that have done just that for me. I’ve turned to them during those low moments and come away feeling quite inspired. Any of these would make a lovely gift for the teacherly types in your life.
Teaching with Fire is a book of poetry about teaching that I have found wonderfully inspirational. This book was inspired by Parker J. Palmer’s work on teaching and he has written the introduction. The poems are chosen by real teachers and each poem has an explanation written on the facing page that was written by the teacher who chose it. Sometimes the poems are directly related to teaching — other times the connection is less obvious. Regardless, the poems are inspiring and I’ve even used them in my work in the classroom. For a little inspiration here is a poem by David Wagoner from the “In the Moment” section of the book.
Lost by David Wagoner
Stand Still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger.
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
The Courage to Teach by Parker J. Palmer Wonderfully inspiring as it explores the spirituality of feeling the call to teach, it addresses the highs and the lows of the adventure that is teaching. As Parker J. Palmer himself states,”This book is for teachers who have good days and bad — and whose bad days bring the suffering that comes only from something one loves. It is for teachers who refuse to harden their hearts, because they love learners, learning, and the teaching life.”
This quote in itself is inspiration to keep going, and this book is full of them!
What Great Teachers Do Differently by Todd Whitaker is a very practical book that does an excellent job of building up the picture of the kind of teacher I want to be and the culture that I want to create in the classroom. A teacher full of positivity that always sees the best inher students is the image Whitaker creates in this book and he suggests that it is this kind of teacher that is the most effective with students. A “great” teachers classroom is a joy to be a part of so children are inspired to create and learn. This book sat on my nightstand for a long time and I would turn to it every night for a little bit of inspiration. It’s not to be missed.