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Deliberate Optimism

Deliberate Optimism
Still Reclaiming the Joy in Education

Second Edition
  • Debbie Silver - Education Consultant, Keynote Speaker, and Author,
  • Jack C. Berckemeyer - Director, Berckemeyer Educational Consulting Group

May 2023 | 224 pages | Corwin

Even more ways for educators to flourish

A lot has changed in schools since Deliberate Optimism was first published, but one thing hasn’t: Attitude can make all the difference. When educators choose optimism—even in the face of the toughest challenges—they foster a school culture where students and staff feel safe, engaged, and productive, able to enjoy the healthy interactions that lead to real change.

Updated to address major changes in education since 2015, the second edition of this much-loved book features new doses of the same cathartic humor, plus

  • Revised, more succinct Principles of Optimism
  • Expanded focus on leadership
  • Updated strategies and thought-provoking scenarios
  • Interactive “Action Step” exercises
  • A new chapter on mental health
  • QR codes leading to additional resources such as self-assessments and videos

Optimism is the salve for overworked leaders and teachers, and this book delivers on outlining its indisputable benefits. Brimming with wit and honesty, the updated Deliberate Optimism demonstrates how changing your mindset can help you rediscover your motivation—and create a school environment bound for success.

Preface to the second edition
Introduction: Choosing to Enter Education Is a Telling Vote for Optimism
Chapter 1: Principle #1: Gather Information
Chapter 2: Principle #2: Control What You Can
Chapter 3: Principle #3: Do Something Positive
Chapter 4: Principle #4: Own Your Part
Chapter 5: Mental Health Is Health
Chapter 6: “But We Have This One Teacher Who keeps Ruining Everything!”
Chapter 7: Building a Positive Shared School Community
Chapter 8: Joyful School Communities – The Sum of Their Parts
Appendix I.1 Life Orientation Test
Appendix I.2 Happiness and Optimism Tests
Appendix I.3 Life on a Roll
Appendix 1.1 Four Principles of Deliberate Optimism
Appendix 1.2 The 4 Principles of Deliberate Optimism Worksheet
Appendix 1.3 Realistic Awareness
Appendix 1.4 Recognizing and Celebrating Staff
Appendix 3.1 Tips for Writing Letters to Students
Appendix 5.1 Twelve Ways to Reduce Stress
Appendix 6.1 Ten Tips for Improving Interpersonal Relationships
Appendix 6.2 Life Is a Theatre
Appendix 7.1 Effective Team-Building Activities
Appendix 7.2 Student Accountability
Appendix 7.3 Loyalty
Appendix 8.1 Student-Led Conferences

You need to buy two copies of this book. One to keep on your desk so you
can grab it when you need immediate strategies to handle the challenges that
arise. The other to keep on your bedside table so you can read it again for
comfort, reassurance, and encouragement. This is the book that will keep you
in education . . . sane, calm, competent, and resilient.

Roselind Wiseman
Co-founder, Cultures of Dignity

This new edition is hardcore. Newly updated with their characteristic humor,
real classroom examples, robust new research, action steps, and appendices
worth the price alone, Debbie and Jack have outdone themselves. This is real
aloe on the wounds and a bright lantern for the way forward to converting
radical hope into effective educational practice while finding grounds for joy
along the way.

Rick Wormeli
Teacher/Principal Training and Author

With Deliberate Optimism you will have everything you need to reimagine an
environment of passion and purpose. It is an essential guide for achieving the
best version of yourself! Every teacher and district team member should be
given this book to help them accelerate kindness and caring in our schools.

Martinrex Kedziora
Superintendent of Schools, Moreno Valley United School District

This book serves as a beacon of hope. We sail forward guided by the positive
momentum of these Principles and Action Steps to navigate the present
challenges and prepare for those to come. Get on board for a joyful journey of
deliberate optimism based on honesty, humor, and hope.

Stephen Sroka
National Teacher Hall of Fame Inductee Walt Disney American Teacher of the Year Fellow of the American School Health Association and Adjunct Assistant Professor, School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University

Sample Materials & Chapters


Debbie Thompson Silver

Dr. Debbie Silver is a humorist, consultant, and retired educator with over thirty years of experience as a classroom teacher, staff development facilitator, and university professor. As a classroom teacher, Debbie won numerous awards, including the 1990 Louisiana Teacher of the Year award. She speaks worldwide on issues involving education and is a passionate advocate for students and teachers.  Debbie wrote the best-selling books, Drumming to the Beat of Different Marchers and Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8. She co-wrote the best-selling Teaching Kids to Thrive. In 1990, Debbie Pace and Lawrence Silver merged their families of 3 boys ... More About Author

Jack C. Berckemeyer

Jack Berckemeyer is a nationally recognized presenter, author, and humorist, Jack Berckemeyer began his career as a middle school teacher in Denver, Colorado. After only two years, he was recognized as the outstanding educator at his school and in his district. Then in 2003, Jack received the Outstanding Alumni Award from the Falcon School District. Jack has also served as a judge for the Disney American Teacher Awards and has served on the selection committee for the USA TODAY All-Teacher Team. Jack has a master’s degree in Middle Level Education as well as an administrator’s degree. For 13 years, Jack served as the Assistant Executive... More About Author

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ISBN: 9781071889053