“What you fear to do is the very thing you need to do” (Rami 70). I’ve flown to California nearly 50 times since family members relocated there 16 years ago but the four-hour plane ride during this particular spring break flew by more swiftly because I had the pleasure of reading so many lines like the one above in THRIVE: 5 WAYS TO (Re) Invigorate Your Teaching by English teacher and Twitter colleague, Meenoo Rami. I find it to be the perfect read for teachers, coaches, and mentors of all experience levels. Meenoo’s words provide motivating ideas to create and collaborate in new ways. Her book should be required reading during a teacher’s first year of teaching and would make a great “one book” read for any school’s professional development program.
Sufficiently supplementing a busy educator’s schedule, the brisk 94 pages provide just the right amount of invigorating inspiration to leave the reader ready to roll out new strategies within and outside of the classroom walls. Meenoo shares both what she does to empower her students, such as her class teen magazine as a research paper alternative, as well as what she does to help empower her colleagues, such as her origination of the now very popular and productive #engchat on Twitter. I remember well when Meenoo first started the #engchat in 2010 and was honored when she asked me to host one of the earlier chats. I wasn’t quite versed yet in TweetDeck or other Twitter applications but walked away thoroughly inspired by the connections made that day and continue to be amazed by the number of resources acquired during those chat meets.
The book is logically organized into five chapters on mentoring, networking, challenging, listening and empowering. Meenoo’s friendly tone helps us young and old realize we are not alone in our uncertainties and anxieties we face as educators along the way. She shares her early feelings of isolation, poses targeted questions for each of us to ask ourselves as we initialize each new school year’s goals, and tirelessly emphasizes the importance of connection in and out of our school building. Noting Daniel Pink, Rami outlines the three most important things teachers need to maintain motivation as they pass through classroom doors for perhaps decades at a time. I don’t want to give away all of the valuable points and ideas laid out in this book; but please know this is definitely worth your time and dime. My book is highlighted, annotated and doggie-eared.
Meenoo most definitely deserves an A+ for sharing her knowledge, fears, and hopes. She inspires all the teaching souls like myself who have a number of books in our heads that we need to stop making excuses for not writing. I can’t wait until her next book and thank her for the inspiration!!
P.S. As I’m writing this, my Twitter PLN is showered with National Poetry month ideas for approaching and analyzing poetry. Meenoo has a great idea in her book to emphasize the point that “we all use language to convey complex thoughts and feelings in playful ways” that I can’t wait to try (Rami 76). Manipulating language in various ways is more exciting than ever thanks to technology; check out Meenoo’s ideas to see how.Rami, Meenoo. Thrive: 5 Ways to (re)invigorate Your Teaching. Portsmouth: Heinemann, 2014.