#TBookC – Teacher Twitter Book Club

By Lindsey Lipsky, MEd

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#TBookC, Twitter Teacher Book Club Chat Thursdays 8pm CST

#TBookC, or Twitter Teacher Book Club, is an online social experiment designed to bring educators and education stakeholders across the globe together for reading, celebration, learning, and fun. After all, teaching is a tough job, we could all use some down-time and collaboration from time to time, no?

Created in January of 2015, with the help of my amazing Professional Learning Network (PLN) members and friends Lisa Berghoff @LisaBerghoff and Lisa Friedman @JewishSpecialEd, #TBookC has so far been an astounding success with some impressive reads in its first three months.

In the true spirit of online collaboration, all #TBookC books are suggested by group members like you, and then voted on for our monthly read and chat. So far, all #TBookC picks have been highly engaging and divergent in their topics, but with one theme: when people from varying backgrounds, locations, and experiences come together in one place on transformational reads, amazing things can happen.

Here is a look back at some of our #TBookC picks and reads so far for 2015.


Teach Like a Pirate, Dave Burgess

January: Teach Like a Pirate, by Dave Burgess #TLAP

The January  #TBookC Pick, Teach Like a Pirate,was voted upon by over fifty educators on Twitter for our first #TBookC chat, and helped ignite a #TLAP revolution. Teach Like a Pirate is an inspiring read chalk full of unique tips on engaging educators and students alike in the classroom. Based on a powerful acronym for teaching success (P-passion, I-immersion, R-rapport, A-ask/analyze, T-transformation, E- enthusiasm), the spirit that author Dave Burgess brings is truly contagious!

To read more about the fabulous takeaways from Teach Like a Pirate and our #TBookC January chat, read the #TBookC January Summary here by Lisa Berghoff.


How Full is Your Bucket? Tom Rath

February: How Full is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath #HFIYB

For February, our amazing group of educators across the globe came together and chose How Full is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath. How Full is Your Bucket? or #HFIYB is an inspirational read that is a fabulous resource for those looking to infuse positivity, collaboration, and effective communication into their classrooms and every day lives.

Not just for educators, this book brings us the power of positivity with the magic 5to1 ratio (we need at most 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction) and the idea of the dipper and the bucket; for every positive interaction with another, we are adding to another person’s bucket, and our bucket in turn.  Stay tuned for our #TBookC February Summary post coming soon!


Wonder, R.J. Palacio

March: Wonder by RJ Palacio

#TBookC participants voted for our first fictional read, Wonder by RJ Palacio for March.  An eye-opening, tear inducing, heart-warming read, the main character, August Pullman, is a magical ten-year old with wisdom on life, love and friendship well beyond his years. Centering on the message and power of kindness in the face of adversity, in Wonder author R.J. Palacio writes, “Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.”

The #TBookC chat on this inspirational read (for both kids and adults alike!) is sure to make waves, and hopefully change some lives. Join us for the Wonder #TBookC chat starting on March 5th at 8pm CST.

To review some of the amazing #TBookC book chats, check out our #TBookC Storify Summaries– live summaries of our #TBookC Twitter chats.

Want to help #TBookC choose our future reads? Please fill out this google document with title suggestions.  Each month, taking choices from this list, we compile the top 3 suggestions and then vote on them the last week of each month for next month’s read.

Want to join the #TBookC chat and community? Add your name to the #TBookC Google Doc here, or pop in on Thursday nights at 8pmCST/9pmEST. Also, sign up for a #TBookC chat reminder via text or email by visiting https://www.remind.com/join/tbookc and get chat notices right in your inbox.

We can’t wait for you to join us!

#DontLimitMe- Amazing Message by a Student with Down Syndrome

By Lindsey Lipsky, MEd


I am a huge fan of Twitter for the personal and professional growth it provides educators and communities across the globe (as outlined in my previous posts here and here), so it’s no wonder that this blog post is inspired by a Twitter conversation.

Recently the amazing Beth Foraker @InclusionChick, posted a hand-written note by Emily, a 15 year old student with Down Syndrome. Emily wrote this note in response to a question about her hopes and dreams for life after high school.  Here is the first tweet below:

In case you can’t read the picture, let me transcribe Emily’s letter below. She starts with a list of amazing goals for her future:

1. Go to college

2. Keep learning

3. Graduate like normal kids

(Yes, #3 on that list really touched me.)

Further down on the page Emily says something else that, as a teacher, really struck me:

“I want the teachers to treat me kind. Don’t act like you are frustrated with me. I have Down Syndrome and need help. I want the teachers to see how smart I am.”


Just like everyone else, Emily is asking us, begging us, to not get frustrated with her. To be kind. To help her. To see how smart she is. To never give up. A message that all teachers; former, current and future need to hear. #DontLimitMe

Just when I thought the message couldn’t get anymore inspiring, @InclusionChick posted something else: a message Emily had written on the very back of her note. (See tweet below.)

In case you can’t read it.  Here is what Emily wrote below:

“Time to see what I can do to test the limits and break through. Don’t limit me.”

Excuse me while I go wipe the tears off my face…

This letter is an amazing example of why we, as teachers, parents and community members, do what we do each day. Why we work so tirelessly to ensure our students with special needs get what they need and deserve. After all, isn’t it really all about how we can help our students become successful citizens and human beings, no matter the ability or circumstance?

Please join us in sharing this message on Twitter by using the hashtag #DontLimitMe – our new battle cry thanks to @InclusionChick.  Here is the tweet that inspired it all:

I hope this letter and subsequent messages on Twitter will help ignite a revolution, a revolution to help change how we treat and work with our students who have learning differences. Remember: When we change the way we think about learning for our students with special needs, we help change learning for ALL. #DontLimitMe

UPDATE: Please also check out this amazing post by Beth Foraker, @InclusionChick here on the power of Emily’s letter. 

Want more on the powerful message of #DontLimitMe?

Be sure to check out this amazing video by Megan Bomgaars, an inspirational young woman with Down Syndrome. It’s an inspiring four minute watch that you won’t be sorry you missed!

Big thanks to Beth Foraker, @InclusionChick for this amazing share; you are an inspiration to all of us!  #DontLimitMe

Teach Like a Pirate #TBookC January Wrap Up

Wrapping Up and Ramping Up

By Lisa Berghoff, MEd

Well, January is over and many of us have let our New Year’s resolutions fall by the wayside.  The good news is that if reading, connecting with other educators, or joining a new Twitter chat were on your to-do list for 2015, it’s not too late!  With January behind us and our new #TBookC chat around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to reflect, touch base, and give a wrap-up of all of the discussions that occurred in January and hopefully entice you to join us in February. Our first month was so fantastic and I feel like we’re just getting started.

#TBookC is the teacher (Twitter) book club for teachers.  It is the brainchild of Lindsey Lipsky (@LindseyLipsky) and is co-moderated by Lisa Friedman (@JewishSpecialEd) and myself (@LisaBerghoff). The plan is to read a new book each month and have twitter chats to discuss what we’ve read, make connections, and drink wine.  Ok, it’s not quite that kind of “book club”, but you’re welcome to open a bottle during our chats if that’s how you roll.

Our January Pick

If you’re an educator and you’ve spent 10 seconds on Twitter, then you have no doubt seen all of the permutations of Teach Like a Pirate, or #tlap out there.  For our January #TBookC first pick, we decided to jump in the pirate waters, don our eye patches, and see what all the fuss was about. We read Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess and I’m happy to say this book did not disappoint.  We divvied up the book into 4 sections for our Thursday January #TBookC chats and crossed our fingers that other educators out there would want to join in the conversation.  Reading in smaller sections definitely enabled us to delve more deeply into the text and be thoughtful about how Dave Burgess’ ideas relate to what we see in our work with students and teachers.

Planning a Twitter chat was actually more involved than I had anticipated.  The process of planning our first #TBookC chat was truly collaborative and I was thrilled to be a part of it.  With Lindsey Lipsky at the helm, Lisa Friedman and I joined in on shared Google docs, GoogleHangouts, twitter messages, and emails in an effort to generate questions that would spark real conversation and thoughtful connection.  I realized that the creation of our first chat was actually an amazing model of a fantastic #tlap lesson for me.  I was jumping into uncharted territory, establishing rapport with my teammates, tapping into creativity and pushing my thinking.  We needed to plan to ensure our participants would feel welcome and want to engage.

The participants for the January chats were wonderful and we were so honored to have Dave Burgess and his wife, Shelley Burgess, joining in on our discussions.  Their comments and contributions greatly enhanced our chat experience.  It was the first time I had ever discussed a book while the author was chiming in!  We also had teachers, administrators, and even some university students who all found common ground with this amazing read.  Many thanks to the participants who shared their creative ideas, epic fails, and thoughts and ideas regarding “piratehood” in education.  The connections that I have made just in our first month alone have been so fantastic and I continue to learn and share resources with many of them.

#Tlap Takeaways

The first half of the book is Dave Burgess’ “manifesto” on teaching.  His passion and enthusiasm definitely seem to leap from the pages and I found myself reaching for highlighters and sticky notes as I read.  There were many aha! moments reading and it’s hard to read this book and not feel pride in what we do everyday as educators. Dave uses the acronym PIRATE to explain each facet of being an amazing teacher and he gives many personal examples of what that looks like in the classroom.  Throughout our chats, we shared many of our own personal anecdotes that show how this plays out in our various educational spaces.  The second half of the book is full of “hooks” and strategies that can be implemented right away into any classroom.  I was actually surprised to learn that Dave is a high school teacher and happy to be reminded that even high school students should be experiencing curiosity and a love for learning.  The chat participants also shared some of the new things we are going to try and the back and forth exchanges definitely helped me flesh out how this was going to work in my classes.

After reviewing the archives, here are the big takeaways from #TBookC’s Teach Like A Pirate “discussion” …

  1. Teaching is all about relationships.  We need to work to establish positive relationships with our students as well as with our colleagues if we’re going to be amazing teachers.  Part of establishing relationships has to do with giving all of ourselves to our students.  They know when we’re faking or not giving them our full attention.
  2. Staying in our comfort zone is NOT where it’s at.  As educators, we expect our students to try new things, experience failure, and learn from their mistakes every day.  It’s important that we do the same and do it out in the open so we can model the important learning that goes on when we push ourselves.
  3. Creativity is not a magic pill!  Everyone can be creative but it shouldn’t be expected to just happen overnight.  We need to be thoughtful and set up a method of nurturing creative ideas.
  4. A combination of high expectations  and fun can, and should, be happening at the same time in our classrooms.  Just because you are incorporating art into your math lesson, does not mean you are lowering standards.  In fact, often utilizing creative activities actually raises the bar for students and forces them to think and explain themselves in different ways.

Be passionate about teaching and learning and surround yourself with others who are also passionate.  Don’t let yourself get hung up in the politics and educomplaints of the day.  Be daring, be caring, and find others who are too.  They will make you better at your craft, which will make kids better learners, which is what it’s all about!

If you are new to #TBookC or considering joining us in February, please take a look at the previous chats on Storify or go here for February Read information.

Lisa Bergoff

As a high school special education teacher for 19 years, Lisa Berghoff has worked with many students and their families to create unique learning experiences and ensure that they are an authentic part of the school community. She  is passionate about collaborating and connecting educators as a means for success for students.  She is also an ed-tech leader, Google education trainer,  and presenter in the Chicago area.  Connect with Lisa on Twitter