So, I have been trying to write this blog post for a long time now and just cannot seem to get it right. I have been trying to find just the right words to introduce you to one of the most amazing books that I have come across in a long time, but feel as though nothing I say could really do this book the justice that it deserves. People…it is just that good!! So here goes!
Every spring, I start to make a list of the books that I hope to read over the summer. Summertime is my time to wake up early, make some coffee, and sit on my deck and read. It is one of my most favorite things in the world to do. I tend to read a mixture of fiction and non-fiction as I love to learn about topics that will help me in my life and profession. I am on my second read of a book that I encourage EVERY teacher (and non-teacher) to read! It is Hacking School Culture: Designing Compassionate Classrooms by Angela Stockman and Ellen Feig Gray. This book is life changing and like no other!
Last summer, Angela and Ellen approached me to discuss what I was doing in my classroom with mindfulness. They told me about the book that they were writing and I was so excited to share the little bit that I was doing in my classroom and my reasons behind it. After speaking with them, I knew that this book was going to be amazing, but I really had no idea just how amazing it would be. This book is truly a work of art and a work of heart. These women not only write in the most beautiful way, but the topics that they cover will move you in ways that will transform the way you think about your teaching. It is a book that I believe should be read by every teacher group in schools and should be examined by anyone who writes curriculum for schools.
As teachers, we are always excited to go to a workshop or read a book that gives us real tips and tricks that we can use in our classrooms immediately. This book does that and more. The amount of resources that are available at the end of each chapter are truly amazing. It truly is a library within each chapter. In addition, Angela and Ellen have a number of ways to continue their conversation on compassion through a variety of online gatherings. They are currently holding a virtual book club where they post very thought provoking questions related to each chapter. You can join this club by joining their facebook conversation and group. You can also follow them on twitter. The work that both of these authors have done is truly amazing and inspiring.
This book comes at such a relevant time in our society. While compassion has always been something that we as teachers should be sharing in our classrooms, I feel as though it is something so worth really diving into now. Our students need it. We need it as their teachers. I love that this book starts of with a section on self compassion to remind us, the teachers, that we need to take care of ourselves so that we do not “burn out”. The first chapter spoke to me in ways that I really needed as I came out of my 20th year of teaching wondering if I could do this any longer. It helped me to realize that I was not the only one that may feel this way and that it was ok for me to take a break to take care of me so that I can better take care of the students that I really do care so much about.
Teacher friends, you must read this book!! It has been so thought provoking and has helped me to refocus and reframe what my classroom will look like, sound like and feel like. I hope you enjoy this read as much as I did! I would love to hear from you and your thoughts on the book!