Book Review: Teaching with Vitality: Pathways to Health & Wellness for Teachers and Schools

Kristi Bishop Michele Cotton-Stanfield Jonathan Glawe

Bennett, Peggy D. Teaching with Vitality: Pathways to Health and Wellness for Teachers and Schools. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017. ISBN: 9780190673987

A teacher’s life is filled with rewarding and fulfilling moments that can generate a sense of wellbeing and pride about past achievements, and cultivate hope and courage for envisioning a better future. It is also true that in the fray of everyday encounters and challenging situations, those same spiritual affordances of teaching can be suppressed, causing an imbalance in the outlook teachers bring to their work. Over a period of time, the passion and energy that was once available for teaching can become diffused and depleted.

Considering the maintenance of well-being in a life in teaching, Peggy Bennett has written an inspirational book to help teachers bring their best and most vital selves to teaching and learning and maintain that disposition even in the face of ongoing struggles and unfavorable circumstances. It’s a book about joy, renewal, hope, fortitude, self-knowledge and teacher wellness. Te author also provides practical advice and pathways toward maintaining health and wellness in everyday classroom practice. I’m reminded of Parker Palmer’s classic book for teachers, Te Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life (1998), particularly when he says that if we want grow as teachers, “we must talk to each other about our inner lives, risky stuff in a profession that fears the personal and seeks safety in the tech- nical, the distant, the abstract” (p. 12).


I believe that Bennett’s book is a rich source for starting such conversations among mu- sic teachers. In this column, three practicing teachers—Kristi Bishop, Michele Cotton-Stan- field and Jonathan Glawe—respond to Bennett’s book, drawing on their teaching and other life experiences to respond to over one hundred topics addressed in the book.

--Marie McCarthy Book & Media Reviews

At times we teachers pick up an inspiration- al book, flip through its pages, and nod our heads, promising to remember to think this new way, or find more joy and reward in our jobs. Ten the bell rings, the parent calls, the saxophone breaks, the scissors are lost, and the promises to ourselves fade. However, in Peggy Bennett’s new book, Teaching With Vitality, the sage advice warrants a permanent spot on the educator’s desk. Each short and concise chapter is as practical as it is renewing. Her perspective from obvious years of experience is a welcome reminder of the joy of teaching and how that joy is dependent upon professional behavior and loſty hopes. She even addresses physical wellbeing.

Every new teacher would benefit from his or her own copy. With chapters such as “Asser- tiveness as Necessity” and “Facing Fear”, novice teachers learn about how to step into a profes- sional world where everyone must step up to the plate and value his or her contribution even amidst older or more experienced colleagues.

Books & Media

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