A book that will change a teacher’s life

I’ve just finished reading a book entitled ‘Teaching that changes lives: 12 Mindset tools for igniting the love of learning’ by Dr Marilee Adams.  When I started the book I thought it was great, when I was halfway through it I was thinking it a fantastic example of critical reflection in an extended narrative.  However, when I reached the end I knew it was a book that could potentially change lives of not only students but of the teachers who read it, just like is described in the book itself.  The book is a recount of a very discouraged young teacher who cannot work with her colleague, with whom she shares a class, and who is constantly frustrated with how to engage her students.  She is at breaking point and ready to quit teaching all together, a career she had once been so passionate about.  This was me as well only 3-4 years ago, ready to quit the career I had worked so hard to get into and had dreamt of my entire schooling life.

Marilee Adams perfectly writes the story of Emma, the young teacher, and how she goes from this discouraged teacher with a negative mindset, to a passionate and successful teacher in her work with her students and with her colleagues.  The main tool to her transformation and that of her students’, The Choice Map.  This tool provided a set of questions and a clear and explicit framework for transforming from a critical mindset, known as the Judger mindset, and into the positive and productive Learner mindset.  How Emma and her colleague Carmen learned from this map and used it in their professional and personal lives brought about radical change and transformation.

One of the aspects I loved the most about the book was that it was written as a recount critical reflection and constantly reinforced good practice in developing deep critical reflective habits.  Its so much about questioning and it came down to these five essential questions:

  1. What do I want – for both myself and others?
  2. Am I in Learner mindset or Judger mindset right now?
  3. Am I listening with Learner ears or Judger ears?
  4. What assumptions am I making?
  5. Who do I choose to be in this moment?

These are some of the valuable points I highlighted in the book:

“Learner mindset is more positive, open, and accepting, while Judger mindset is more negative, closed, and critical”. (p. 40)


“After we’ve examined our beliefs, we can choose to change them and one way to do that is by changing the questions we ask ourselves.” (p. 82)


“…we can’t focus our full attention on learning or doing anything that requires complex thought until our basic needs are met.  One of our basic needs is a sense of belonging, which comes from feeling valued by people and by ourselves.” (pg. 83)


This book is one I highly recommend!  It is a wonderful read and so passionate and inspiring.  Check out some more about the book and its author at www.inquiryinstitute.com.


Adams, M. G. (2013). Teaching that Changes Lives: 12 Mindset Tools for Igniting the Love of Learning. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.


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