Courage to Teach

Courage To Teach® is a program of 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. CTT was developed by Parker J. Palmer, PhD, and is offered by Courage & Renewal facilitators across the globe. For further information about Courage in Schools, please contact Lisa Sankowski.

Courage to Teach:

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

Each Courage to Teach group 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. Each retreat follows a seasonal theme, using the rich metaphors of the seasons as a way of exploring vocational and life questions.

Learn more:

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

The 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.

The Courage to Teach 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 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.