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
You 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.
Stories of Courageous Teachers
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 »
Learning 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 »
Entire 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 »
From 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 »
- Go to the Courage in Schools program page.
- Read an article: “Courage to Teach®: A Retreat Program of Personal and Professional Renewal for Educators” from Section IV of Stories of the Courage to Teach-Honoring the Teacher’s Heart, by Sam M. Intrator. See more essays and articles.
- See this journal: This academic journal devoted an entire issue to Courage & Renewal in schools. New Directions for Teaching and Learning – Special Issue: Teaching and Learning from the Inside Out: Revitalizing Ourselves and Our Institutions, Number 130, Summer 2012 (Wiley Periodicals, Inc., A Wiley Company, 2012)
- Explore books: See more about The Courage to Teach book plus more Books for Teachers
- Watch Videos from The Courage to Teach Guide for Reflection & Renewal DVD
- Read blog posts about teaching. Here are some recent blog posts:
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 by Parker J. Palmer was first published in 1997 and was updated in 2007.
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 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.