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Deliberate Optimism

Deliberate Optimism
Reclaiming the Joy in Education

September 2014 | 184 pages | Corwin

Beat burnout and bring joy back to teaching—and learning.

Recharge the optimism that made you an educator in the first place! School is where students and staff should feel safe, engaged, and productive—and choosing optimism is the first step toward restoring healthy interactions necessary for enacting real change.

In this book, learn to implement the Five Principles of Deliberate Optimism. Research-based strategies, practical examples, and thought-provoking scenarios help you

  • Rediscover motivation
  • Take a positive view of events beyond your control
  • Build an optimistic classroom where students flourish
  • Partner with other stakeholders to create an optimistic learning environment

Take the road to new potential and positive outcomes! With a healthy dose of humor to make it fun, Deliberate Optimism shows you the actual differences a change in attitude can make.

“This book provides a framework for taking responsibility in classrooms, choosing to see the positives, dealing with problems rather than dwelling on them, recognizing choices are always available, and building relationships with all in the school community.”
Charla Buford Bunker, Literacy Specialist
Great Falls High School
Sun River, MT

“The authors have a realistic view of a teacher’s daily life and provide realistic solutions for teachers to embrace optimism and positivity in a myriad of situations.”
Kati Searcy, Teacher
Mountain Park ES
Roswell, GA

“This book is a nice synthesis of current research and classic literature about climate, culture, and the environmental context of the classroom and the teachers’ lounge.”
Chris Hubbuch, Principal
Excelsior Springs Middle School

About the Authors
Chapter 1. Choosing to Become a Teacher Is a Telling Vote for Optimism
Chapter 2. I'm Not an Optimist, but Hopefully, One Day I Will Be
Chapter 3. "But We Have This ONE Teacher Who Keeps Ruining Things for Everyone!"
Chapter 4. Building Healthy Relationships and an Optimistic Shared Community
Chapter 5. Creating the Optimistic Classroom: Building a Relationship Culture
Chapter 6. Reclaiming the Joy in Our Classrooms and Our Curriculum
Chapter 7. Balancing Your Life to Promote Optimism
Chapter 8. Joyful School Communities: The Sum of Their Parts

"Deliberate Optimism: Reclaiming the Joy in Education is a highly relevant and engaging book that goes directly to the heart and soul of what education should be, not what it has come to be.  The authors offer practical suggestions on how to reclaim what we have lost in the struggle to keep students, learning, and relationships at the core of educational practice.  Their suggestions provide a pathway for educators to take deliberate personal action to reject the increasingly dehumanizing and deadening effects of politicization and corporatization of education. Deliberate Optimism provides us with hope that the joy in education, which attracted us to our profession, is still available; it is just waiting for each of us to take deliberate action to reclaim it."

Martin Tadlock, Vice President and Provost
Bemidji State University, Bemidji, MN

"Debbie asked me to review this book and I said, Depends.  As in, the countenance product – I knew I would need them while reading a book by her and Jack and Judith.  I didn’t know I would need Kleenex too, as I found myself dabbing at tears of both joy and released frustrations.  These authors are the most insightful, funniest, and now I will add, compassionate, minds in education today.  Their practical tips about maintaining and rebuilding realistic optimism are, in our students’ vernacular, Da bomb!  This book has great wisdom no matter what your profession, or lack thereof.  Mahalo!"



"The Universe provides.  Debbie asked me to review this book at a time when I was facing new and daunting challenges both at home and the workplace.  Deliberate Optimism offers not only encouragement, but much more importantly, practical steps for maintaining and rebuilding realistic optimism at work, home, wherever.  Their insights are grounded in the real world of too little funding, too much criticism, too many demands, too little time, etc.  And they show how to find and nurture light there.  Mahalo, Debbie, Jack and Judith!"

Paul D. Deering, Professor of Education
University of Hawaii at Manoa

"This is such an important book for every classroom teacher.  I wish schools would keep a copy in the faculty room so teachers can get practical ideas for finding the fun in working with students!  I love how the book provides deliberate strategies that help teachers overcome the everyday bumps in the road that accompany the classroom.  Thank you Debbie, Jack, and Judith for reminding us that teaching kids should be joyful!"

Jared Covili, Author of Going Google: Powerful Tools for 21st Century Learning.

"Blind optimism is no more effective than blind pessimism when it applied to providing children a good education. Thankfully respected educators Silver, Berckmeyer and Baenen offer optimism as a tool with eyes wide-open. While acknowledging the challenges - social, political and professional - of today's teachers, the authors describe and promote concrete strategies for building, sustaining, and using optimistic behaviors to improve professional effectiveness. A great book for whole school discussion - or to simply read for personal uplift, Deliberate Optimism belongs on every teacher and administrator's bookshelf - and hearts."

Doug Johnson, Director of Media and Technology
Mankato Area Public Schools

"Justice and self-improvement are interdependent. You can't change yourself without working to change your world; and you can't change your world without working to change yourself. With realistic scenarios, clear, sympathetic suggestions, and funny off-hand references to The Big Bang Theory and Harry Potter, Debbie Silver and her co-authors help educators tackle the latter half of this interdependence in _Deliberate Optimism_. In this book we are offered tools to cultivate the fund of energy and creativity we all need to set in motion real change."  

Dina Strasser, Educator and Author of

"The focus of this book is on optimism and the development of a school environment where students and staff feel safe, engaged and productive. The book opens with over fifteen comments from teachers that praise the authors for their ‘sensible, realistic and inspiring advice…simply empowering!’  So does the book live up to this? The authors all include the word ‘humorous’ in their descriptions of themselves, allied to a wealth of experience as teachers, consultants and presenters. Debbie Silver is the author of ‘Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8: Teaching Kids to Succeed’, which I have previously reviewed here. The book is built around five principles of deliberate optimism which include:

  • Establish what you can control and seek tools and strategies to help you maximize your power
  • Take ownership of your plan and acknowledge responsibility for your choices

These principles are then linked to Action Steps and Points for Discussion, with illustrations of what can be controlled and what cannot. The authors also stress the importance of finding joy and optimism through striving for balance and developing the skill of ‘Single-Tasking’ as opposed to multitasking. The appendix contains exercises, sample happiness and optimism tests, team building exercises and suggestions for using humour and managing stress. This is an interesting book that would have benefited possibly from some cartoons or other visual content to balance its quest for optimism and joy."

SEN Magazine, July 2015

Terrific source to utilize for my doctoral program

Mr Vicky Krug
Health Prof Social Science Div, Westmoreland Co Cmty College
October 16, 2014
Key features

Through research-based strategies, practical examples, and thought-provoking scenarios, the authors provide food for thought along with enough humor to make the journey fun.  Discussion questions and action steps follow each chapter, and an appendix of further activities is provided at the end of the book.

  • Visual elements: graphs, charts, forms, graphics, etc.
  • Study guide section
  • Comprehensive bibliography
  • Glossary
  • Comprehensive appendix including handout-master templates
  • Video clips of author presentations

For instructors

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