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Courage to Teach

This book builds on a simple premise: good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher.
—Parker J. Palmer, The Courage to Teach


Parker-Palmer_Courage-to-TeachYou may know The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life as one of the best books you’ve ever read as an educator. Read the first chapter here, The Heart of a Teacher.

The book by Parker J. Palmer is the basis for the Courage to Teach® professional development and personal renewal programs available for teachers and educators. We also provide a variety of inspiring resources for teachers.

Courage To Teach® is the umbrella program name for the many stand-alone retreats or quarterly retreat series for the personal and professional renewal of educators. It is part of a broad initiative for educators by the Center for Courage & Renewal called Courage in Schools.

Courage to Teach focuses neither on technique, nor directly on school reform, but rather on renewing the inner lives of professionals in education.

Courage to Teach® programs help teachers:

  • Renew heart, mind, and spirit through the exploration of the inner landscape of a teacher’s life.
  • Reconnect to one’s identity and integrity—identifying and honoring gifts and strengths, and acknowledging limits.
  • Create a context for careful listening and deep connection that also honors diversity in person and profession.
  • Create safe spaces and trusting relationships in their schools, with their students and colleagues, and within their communities.
  • Explore the connection between attending to the inner life of educators and the renewal of public education.

Each Courage to Teach program consists of twenty to thirty educators. In large-group, small-group, and solitary settings, “the heart of a teacher” is explored, making use of personal stories, reflections on classroom practice, and insights from poets, storytellers, and various wisdom traditions.

For more information about Courage in Schools, contact Lisa Sankowski.

See calendar of upcoming programs for teachers & educators

Stories of Courageous Teachers

Kelly Camak is helping teachers cultivate confidence.Inspiring Students to Discover Their Gifts
Kelly Camak is an educational coach who’s using Courage & Renewal to help teachers inspire their students. “Such transformation happened because he was able to focus on his talents, and see how that applied to his work in a way that wasn’t academically intimidating. It was really powerful.” Read her story »

Debbie StanleyLearning the Power of Authentic Questions
Debbie Stanley rediscovered that her calling was to be in the classroom, not the dean’s office. Courage & Renewal helped her find that truth. “I decided, divided no more. I am going to go with what I think is right, and that is to be with children in a way that is humane, authentic and loving. That is really important to me. I teach who I am.” Read her story »

ellie-oct13catalystEntire Freshman Class Transformed
Ellie Gilbert, a 9th grade teacher, shares her struggles with burnout and how Courage & Renewal helped her return to the classroom with success. “At 22, I felt passion was all I needed to be a good teacher. It was like having a well that was running dry quickly, with nothing replenishing it. I didn’t know how to sustain myself or how to be vulnerable. But I wanted to go back. Teaching is a calling.” Read her story »

catalyst-amy-web350From Good to Great in the Classroom
Amy Swenson talks about the remarkable power of trustworthy relationships between students and teachers, and how Courage & Renewal helped her see that. “For the first time she saw her students as human beings, not as the subject matter. ‘I had shown up in my teaching, and as a result, my students did as well. Now as I open up and tell them my stories, they do the same.'” Read her story »

More Courage to Teach Resources:

Podcasts with Parker

What do we mean by The Courage to Teach? (Part 1)

Parker Palmer reflects on the history of The Courage to Teach book celebrating its tenth anniversary, and Courage to Teach® programs for the personal and professional renewal of educators.  He is joined in conversation by Marcy Jackson, co-founder and Senior Fellow of the Center for Courage & Renewal, and Estrus Tucker, Courage & Renewal Facilitator and President/CEO of Liberation Community Inc. in Ft. Worth, Texas, This podcast is on the CD in The Courage to Teach, Tenth Anniversary Edition.

In Solitude and Community (Part 2)

Parker, Marcy, and Estrus reflect on the impact and the value of Courage to Teach, the retreat series for educators.

“[Courage to Teach] is not just a vacation or a weekend away from home, but the soul-deep support of a chance to have conversations about things that really matter and a chance to grow, from the inside out.”

Courage to Teach, the Book plus more Books for Teachers

Courage to Teach by Parker J. Palmer was first published in 1997 and was updated in 2007.

ALSO SEE more books for educators by Parker J. Palmer or sponsored by the center, and books by Courage & Renewal facilitators.

Parker-Palmer_Courage-to-TeachThe Courage to Teach: Tenth Anniversary Edition
(Jossey-Bass, 2007) by Parker J. Palmer

This book builds on a simple premise: good teaching cannot be reduced to technique but is rooted in the identity and integrity of the teacher. Good teaching takes myriad forms but good teachers share one trait: they are authentically present in the classroom, in community with their students and their subject. They possess “a capacity for connectedness” and are able to weave a complex web of connections between themselves, their subjects, and their students, helping their students weave a world for themselves. The connections made by good teachers are held not in their methods but in their hearts — the place where intellect, emotion, spirit, and will converge in the human self — supported by the community that emerges among us when we choose to live authentic lives.

BONUS: Includes an audio CD featuring a 45-minute conversation between Parker Palmer and his Center for Courage & Renewal colleagues, Marcy Jackson and Estrus Tucker. They reflect on what they have learned from working with thousands of teachers in the Courage to Teach program and with others who yearn for greater integrity in their professional lives.

Parker-Palmer_CTTX-GuideThe Courage to Teach Guide for Reflection and Renewal: Tenth Anniversary Edition
(Jossey-Bass, 2007) by Parker J. Palmer with Megan Scribner

The Courage to Teach Guide for Reflection and Renewal has been thoroughly updated and expanded to help readers reflect on their teaching and renew their sense of vocation. The Guide proposes practical ways to create “safe space” for honest reflection and probing conversation, and offers chapter-by-chapter questions and exercises to explore the many insights in The Courage to Teach. The companion DVD (now available online for free) brings The Courage to Teach alive through a 70-minute interview with Parker J. Palmer, originally recorded as a resource for the Center. Palmer reflects on a wide range of subjects including the heart of the teacher, the crisis in education, diverse ways of knowing, relationships in teaching and learning, approaches to institutional transformation, and teachers as “culture heroes.” Discussion questions related to the topics explored in the interview have been integrated into the Guide, giving individuals and study groups a chance to have “a conversation with the author” as well as an engagement with the text.

Educator Events on the Calendar

Date Event


Just Be, Just Breathe: Reclaiming True Self, Finding Sanctuary: A Courage & Renewal® Retreat
Cranaleith Spiritual Retreat Center – Philadelphia, PA


Courage to Lead Program for Educational Administrators (Spring/Summer 2017)
Menucha Retreat & Conference Center – Corbett, OR


The Soul Never Forgets: Leading from Your Deepest Values
Ghost Ranch Education & Retreat Center – Abiquiu, NM


Listening from Within: A Courage to Lead Retreat for Women
Menucha Retreat & Conference Center – Corbett, OR


Teaching & Leading From Within: A Two-Day Program for Educators
Village Hotel Katong – Singapore


Walk in Beauty: Pilgrimage of El Camino de Santiago, Spain (A Kinder Camino)