Anyone who has a child in school realizes that the school is only as good as the teacher your daughter or son has that year. Any parent can tell you that a tired, dispirited teacher can do harm to your child’s love of learning and motivation to succeed. We depend on teachers to educate our children under increasingly demanding conditions. While teachers enter the field with a great love for their students and a passion for what they teach, it is not uncommon for them to “lose heart” and become discouraged with their vocations.

This program was established to create a place where educators can rediscover
their identity and integrity as teachers. It is based on the belief that each of us has an “inner teacher”; given the right conditions, we can find answers to our challenges from within ourselves. By inviting teachers to this important inner work, in a community of colleagues, this self-reflection can bring new strength, and revitalize teachers who work so hard for our children. In this time of teacher shortages, this program offers renewal to education’s most important resource: the teacher. We have had a number of our participants say that without this program they would have left teaching.

Courage to Teach® was developed by Parker J. Palmer, Ph. D. and the Fetzer Institute in 1994. It is currently offered around the U.S., Canada, and Australia, by facilitators prepared by the Center for Courage & Renewal.  

Parker Palmer states in The Courage to Teach, “We teach who we are.” The intense, demanding work of education can distract us from what is most important in our work, from our values, and from knowing our students and ourselves. In other words, it is easy to get lost and disheartened in this work. Palmer points out,

“Teaching, like any truly human activity, emerges from one’s inwardness, for better or worse. As I teach, I project the condition of my soul onto my students, my subject, and our way of being together. The entanglements I experience in the classroom are often no more or less than the convolutions of my inner life.

Viewed from this angle, teaching holds a mirror to the soul. If I am willing to look in that mirror, and not run from what I see, I have a chance to gain self-knowledge – and knowing myself is as crucial to good teaching as knowing my students and my subject.”

Participants are saying”¦

“Courage to Teach has helped me to be mindful of my teaching. I’m learning the importance of listening to myself, my students, my school. By listening I’m able to be more mindful of the needs of my community. It is too easy to get caught up in the hubbub of schools these days and not take the time or care that is needed to do the job. I’m taking time to see the child as a whole person.”

“Courage to Teach brings to education a process of reflection that acknowledges the human spirit as an essential and legitimate part of the essence of learning. CTT retreats have helped me work to further my understanding and work more effectively to promote a nurturing environment for students that honors their human spirit.”

“Courage to Teach has given me an appreciation for silence and an understanding of what I can gain from listening with intention. CTT has helped me to recognize challenges I face that keep me from finding my true self. I am thankful that CTT is a two-year program. I am realizing that, like some of the young children in my class, it takes me a while to develop relationships. Feeling a sense of community and arriving at trust and respect are so key to the work we are doing.” 

“I am reaping a community of personal and professional voices. The feelings of validation give me the courage to speak my heart to my students and hope that they will begin to see themselves as a community of learners, as human beings – big word! – sharing life experiences, helping them recognize and determine values, ethics, and meaning making. I am recognizing my own set of values, and they are now ever-present – not latent, tucked away behind curriculum and other non-flexible demands.”

Click on the links below to listen to audio (MP3 files) of past participants speaking of their experience.

Coffee & Conversation with Chris
Coffee & Conversation with Debbie
Coffee & Conversation with Kay
Coffee & Conversation with Michael
Coffee & Conversation with Samae 

Who Facilitates The Courage To Teach Program?

All Lewis & Clark Courage & Renewal Facilitators are prepared by the Center for Courage and Renewal, sponsored by the Fetzer Institute. Facilitators include: Ruth Shagoury and Greg Smith

Click here to view upcoming programs and events.