Courage to Teach

At a time of Maine school budget cuts, district consolidation and new federal and state policies measuring student and teacher performance, public education is under intense pressure. Many new K-12 teachers leave the profession in their first 3-5 years of teaching while many mid-career teachers are stressed, disheartened and overwhelmed with complex and challenging student life issues, burdensome school policies and regulations, competitive peer environments and multiple demands from competing sources.

The Courage To Teach (CTT) initiative, which is sponsored in Maine by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and led by UMaine Extension educator Doug Babkirk, seeks to build individual, group and organizational capacity to strengthen what is working well for public school teachers while creatively and effectively garnering the support needed to address what needs attention.

The CTT initiative is part of a national movement to support teachers in bringing their full identity and integrity to teaching; renewing their vocational commitment and aspirations; building circles of peer support for addressing the challenges in
teaching; and generating the collaborative leadership to strengthen schools as respectful, effective and progressive communities of learning.

CTT activities in Maine draw upon four facilitators who have undergone training at the Center for Courage & Renewal in Seattle to offer personal and professional renewal retreats. Plans are underway to offer multi-day retreats for teachers and to work with school leaders and teachers within their schools for personal and organizational renewal. So far, the facilitators have worked in the past four years with around 150 Maine teachers in grades K-16.

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Contact: Doug Babkirk, (207) 712-1414 or