Teaching for Joy and Justice by Linda Christensen

Teaching for Joy and Justice Book Cover
“My duty as a teacher is to attempt to coax the brilliance out of them.”
Linda Christensen

Why should you read this book?

Linda Christensen, author of Teaching for Joy and Justice, shares a powerful story about the importance of being a listener. Her message about honoring students and their lives is the foundation of being an engaging and effective teacher.

She recalls a student, Jerald, who was writing an essay. He was an interesting writer but struggled with the “conventional skills.” Jerald had been “kicked out of most of his classes, so he came to my class about four times a day.”

And, here is where she lost him and became like some of his other teachers. “Instead of telling him how beautiful his writing was, instead of finding what worked in his piece, I found every single thing that was wrong.”

How often have we done this? The important thing to remember is that we can make a mistake and grow from it. Being more mindful of our interactions with students lets them know they are a priority. She says, “… just because students lack skills doesn’t mean that they lack intelligence.”

How can you use this book?

You can use this book to learn how to appreciate the lives of your students, honor them in the telling of their stories, and support them through the writing process.

Christensen shows you how to work side by side with student writers during class. It is during this precious time that you are able to build trust with your students that will enable them to better navigate, understand, and appreciate the mechanics of writing. She encourages students to think about social justice concerns and she looks for “pieces of literature that “speak” to students about overcoming difficult situations.” Christensen shares reading strategies – such as literature circles – that help students improve their comprehension but also build community in the class.

By making student voice, choice in reading, and collaborative review of writing vital, Christensen enables students to make their brilliant stories more than a class assignment!