Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Passionate Learners: Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students, by Pernille Ripp: a Must- read for Teachers

Reviews are usually not my cup of tea; product reviews, book reviews, etc. are not at the top of my topics. I make an exception, quite frankly, when an author tugs at my heart, strengthens my commitment, and challenges me to take my skills to the next level. I have faithfully read Pernille's blog for many years, and now have the opportunity to share about her first book.

In her book, Passionate Learners, Giving our Classrooms Back to Our Students, recently released by PLP, Pernille Ripp takes us through her transformation from a "follow the rules no matter what" teacher to a passionate co-learner and facilitator who creates a place of shared ownership, mutual respect, and true empowered learning. She leaves no controversial topic unturned: from behavior charts, stickers and parties, to grading, punishment, homework and more. Pernille gives her readers a peek inside her mind: what she used to think, what she believes now, and hints for teachers who want to  build a learning environment that aligns with their beliefs.

Pernille does not ask anything of readers she is not prepared to do herself, nor does she expect to be seen as an "expert." She beckons us to question our deepest beliefs, our best practices, the outcomes of our daily classroom experiences and says that we must continue to question in order to grow. With questionnaires to help us reflect, inspiring student videos and photos to encourage our belief in the power of student autonomy, Pernille provides tools, stories, and questions so that we can tackle any challenge. She does not promise that change will be easy, nor does she assume that there is a "one-size fits all" approach for every classroom. She simply lays out guidelines and tips for making progressive moves toward a goal of a true student centered classroom.

I wish that I had read this book a year earlier as I struggled with being a change maker at my school. Although I have a broad PLN I can call on for support, somehow reading these words felt like an extended conversation with a wise friend. Thank you, Pernille, for your oh so honest story that affirms the gifts and challenges of our vital profession.


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