Praise for Define Your WHY
George Foreman has read and endorsed Define Your WHY
“When I began reading Define Your Why, I was pulled in by Barbara’s personal stories. When I reached Chapter 6, “find your ikigai”, I was struck that deep personal reflection work pushes readers to think and feel in ways that expand our understanding of concepts of self and connections to others. In reading this chapter, it became evident that living inside our vulnerability is essential to growing who we are socially and emotionally. It’s an SEL curriculum for adults!”
––Dr. Pam Moran, co-author Timeless Learning and Executive Director of the Virginia School Consortium of Learning
“With her trademark warmth and authenticity, Barbara shares her own personal journey that took her from ‘dental flossing to mental flossing.’ Along with the insights she has gained from forging her own path as an educator, coach, and edupreneur, Barbara will provide you with many practical tools to help you find your own ikigai (“reason for being”) and more importantly to move from “me to we” as you help your learners discover theirs.
Excerpts from interviews with a number of experts in the field (Barbara is the ultimate connector) provide a variety of rich perspectives on the topics discussed in the book. The book comes at an important time. Decades of a negative narrative have left many educators wondering why they do what they do – this book is a great way to get reoriented to the passion and commitment to equity that brought you into education in the first place. I highly recommend it, especially to educators who are just getting started in their careers.”
–– Luis F. Pérez, Technical Assistance Specialist for CAST, author of Learning on the Go, Mobile Learning for All, and Dive into UDL
“More than ever educators need to refuel their passion for teaching and learning but don’t have a plan of action. Define Your Why provides that spark to ignite even those who are burnt out. This book also goes the extra mile and provides a blueprint with inspirational stories, calls to action, and models to ensure one’s passion for teaching doesn’t extinguish.”
––Shelly Sanchez Terrell, Author: 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers and Small Steps to Transform Your Teaching and Learning to Go Founder: #Edchat, 30Goals.com, @EdspeakersCo
“When I think about the educators who made the deepest impression in my life, wonderful memories of men and women who were passionate about teaching and who took a personal interest in my learning come to mind immediately. They had a great sense of humor and they pushed me when they knew they could but were there to never let me fail. In reading Barbara Bray’s book, Define Your Why, I have finally realized why these educators were so impressionable. Barbara shares her insightful journey through her childhood and adult learning and through that reflection, creates opportunities for you personally to dig deep into who you are and to then challenge you to bring it into your classroom strategies. That’s it! This is what made my most memorable teachers such a gift in my life!
Barbara creates your backpack for this journey allowing you to pack it with your particular assets and talents and allows you to be open to those things that challenge you. The many activities she describes are engaging for both you and your students to Define their Why. From there, the journey through designing personalized learning experiences is at your fingertips. You will grow as an educator from your teacher-centered/directed instructional strategies to a teacher who embraces the growth of the journey in moving to student-centered and directed learning. I know you will find Define Your Why will be inspirational, educational, and a wealth of new knowledge about yourself and your learners.”
––Rose Colby, Competency-based consultant, author of Architecture for K-12 Education, 2Revolutions Fellow, speaker
“Barbara Bray is as wonderful a storyteller in writing as she is in person. This book will inspire readers to discover their why.”
––Nancy Weinstein, founder of MindPrint Learning, and co-author The Empowered Student
“If you are struggling to discover your WHY, you must read Barbara Bray’s new book. Through powerful storytelling, practical advice, and personal self-discovery activities, DEFINE YOUR WHY provides the blueprint to figure out what you were put on this earth to do! Each of us deserves to live our lives with PURPOSE, and this book needs to be the start of your journey. Discover your WHY, embrace it, and share it so that others know exactly what you are bringing to the world!”
–– Rich Czyz, principal, founder of 4 O’Clock Faculty #40CF, author of The Four O’Clock Faculty and The Secret Sauce
“I’ve gotten to know Barbara both professionally and personally. To say she is an expert in the field of education would be a great disservice to the many students and educators who see first hand all the Barbara has done for others.
Define Your Why is a great example of what a life’s worth of work helping others can offer. Through passionate stories with great educators, to her own back story of how she found her true passion of teaching; there isn’t a chapter that doesn’t help a person to reflect on their journey.
Personally, I love the helpful tips, QR code videos that go beyond just reading, and how each chapter is written with a clear purpose. No matter your area of expertise, educational background, or how you work with children, “define your why” will transform and motivate you to be just a little better each day. You’ll be able to reflect on what it means to make positive change and more importantly to make it a habit.
Thank you, Barbara! I admire your positive words, actions, affirmations, and how you’ve persevered! Kudos to you on an amazing piece of writing.”
Craig Shapiro, health and fitness instructor at William Tennent High School in the Centennial School District, PA
“I have had the fantastic opportunity to be following Barbara’s work and using it for many years. In the days of quick-fixes and gimmicks in education, what Barbara does best causes people to think, reflect, learn, and grow. She has done this for me in her past two books and has done this again with “Define you why!” Barbara is a strong influence on change for the best. Genuine change! Buy this book, follow her everywhere!”
Mark Levine, Writer, Teacher, Learner, Coach, Presenter. Writing on Literacy in Content Areas, and Mindful Education
“I have known Barbara for a number of years and have watched her continually seek out ways not only to help children reach their potential but also those of us who spend our days with them. Define Your Why not only assists in discovering more about yourself but also continually helps you to evolve both in your educational and personal life. What makes this book so special are the contributions of educators in the field and learning to be open to discovering more about yourself. Continually reflecting and using the tools given here we can be not only better teachers but more satisfied with our lives outside of the classroom.”
JoAnn Jacobs is a sixth-grade social studies teacher at Mid-Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii
“Define Your Why is an incredible guide for educators to live their authentic selves. I LOVED the activities, practicality, and stories from top educators around the world. Barbara has delivered a book that I’ll continue to reference, for many years to come. Highest recommendation possible!”
Hans Appel is the Counselor at Enterprise Middle School in the Richland School District in WA, is a speaker, and supports the student-led Award-Winning Culture podcast.
“Start to finish, Barbara Bray shares life-changing ways to renew our sense of purpose, drive and passion through stories, anecdotes, relevant research, continued exercises, and resources. In unprecedented times, we are all servant leaders sharing empathy and collective spirits to forge ahead in a brave new world. Extremely well written, format easy to read, follow, and savor. My copy is tagged on nearly every page for further reference. Many favorite things in this book; we all need to find or reassess our “why” to make sense of our challenges and forge ahead in life. Following Barbara’s backstory makes a difference in how we frame our reading; when someone makes major life changes, overcomes every conceivable obstacle, the rest of the book makes perfect sense and draws us in. We share so many commonalities. Every chapter gave me an aha! moment, but chapter six, finding our ikigai shared how to discover our ‘purpose for being’. What the world needs now is clearly shared and untold benefits and delights await.”
Rita Wirtz, Author of Reading Champs + Stories from a Teacher’s Heart, former principal, educator, blogger, and keynote speaker
“If you are looking for a book on education that simply espouses what should be done, and to have your preconceived notions affirmed, be prepared for a roller coaster of reason, reflection, and repose. This is not a volume for the faint of heart; you must be ready for some heavy lifting.
There are those books that cause pause to reflect and those that inspire you to take action. When you find a book that can motivate you to do both, oh, it is quite a find. This is one of those books. Do not expect to get through this book quickly, if you intend on getting the most out of it. Only 100 pages into it and I have found plenty of reason for reflection and action.
Barbara starts with a nice review of what is to come in the book and a heartfelt acknowledgment section in which she gives credit to those who have inspired her and contributed their stories. (Of which I am one, I must admit.) At the end of each chapter are personal exercises that are well worth the time. If you have already done such work, Barb encourages us to go back and review what may have been done earlier.
Barbara makes self-reflection easy, yet deep. She encourages you to find a starting place that is right for you (as all good learning should be.) As I have only probed 100 pages into this notable work, it is not right for me to pontificate. However, please expect to hear more from me on this worthy work.
If this volume is not already in your library, it should be. If it is already in your library, pick it up, and enjoy the journey; it is well worth the time.”
Daniel Jackson is a High School Entrepreneurship Influencer, Founder Applied Synergies Partnership, Inc, TEDTalk speaker, and committed to learner advocacy and real change
“I truly enjoyed reading “Define Your Why” by Barbara Bray. I have known Barbara for several years and have always been inspired by her work and her investment in working with educators and helping them to find their voice to share their own stories. In this book, Barbara not only shares her own personal experiences, those which shaped her and led her down the path to education and she also shares the stories of many other educators, which makes this book a powerful read. Learning from other educators and having specific questions and activities to get started with makes this book a wonderful choice. The book is well written, full of quotes, activities, resources, and questions that will encourage and support educators as they reflect upon and grow in their practice.”
Rachelle Dené Poth is a Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology Teacher at Riverview Junior-Senior High School in Oakmont, PA, an attorney, and author of multiple books
“This book was written and released pre-COVID, but the timing couldn’t be better. As I was reading it all I could think was, “every educator NEEDS this…NOW!”
More than just a read, this book is a journey of reflection and self-realization, full of activities and takeaways that will lead to rediscovering and connecting to your essential truth. At a time when many educators are reeling from the realities of COVID, this book guides the reader through getting back in touch with the core of our WHY and renews a zest and passion for the profession. I enjoyed the incorporation and elevation of other voices throughout the text, it stretched my perspective and helped highlight that there are many different journeys and pathways, and you must authentically find your own.
It would make an excellent staff read/book study! I would also suggest using this book as a personalized learning workbook throughout the summer. Grab a copy, get a blank journal, and let the text and included activities be something you come back to over a matter of days and weeks. It truly feels like personal coaching that is accessible on your own time, in your own space.
Highly recommended as personalized professional development or just as reinvestment in yourself. I couldn’t resist page-turning my way through the entire book in one sitting, but I plan to revisit each chapter through the summer to guide reflection and self-discovery as I REconnect and REcommit to my why.”
“I started to write this review on March 24. My district had just finished it’s the first week of distance learning and now we were on Spring Break. It’s been this week of reflection on equity (I’m a Special Ed teacher so it’s always on my mind) and how to meet the needs of my high school learners in this new world of Google Meet meetings, Zoom, and chats. It was when I sat down to write this review that I realized that my WHY was becoming more clearly defined and shaped with each day that COVID-19 rocks my profession. I went back and re-read Chapter 3, “Why Start With Your WHY?” and felt a grounding that I missed the first time through and found myself with a new sense of defined purpose in my role as a Special Education teacher in this digital world. Barbara Bray, a storyteller, has crafted a well-thought-out book that helps educators define why they are in this profession and stirs up motivation and passion to look at challenges as an opportunity. Through the powerful use of engaging stories and self-reflection activities, Barbara helps educators today find their reason for being (ikigai), discover how to use passion, and re-connect to our WHY.”
Andelee Espinosa is a special education teacher supporting students in high school regular education classrooms at Brookfield Central High School in Brookfield, Wisconsin
“Barbara’s personal stories and her professional journey will resonate with you and inspire you to be more self-reflective. Define Your Why is an educator’s treasure because as you grow and develop, you’ll want to reread chapters and sections and use the excellent tools that Barbara provides to adjust you “ikigai or “reason for being.” What Barbara does in every chapter of this book is to offer practical advice and self-discovery activities that start you on your personal journey of defining your WHY. Taking this journey with Barbara’s book as your personal guide will make a difference in your life and purpose and in the lives of others. Define your Why truly belongs on every educator’s bookshelf!”
Laura Robb, author, teacher, coach, and speaker has completed more than 43 years of teaching in grades 4-8 and has written more than 25 books for teachers.
“This is more than just a book to read. Bray offers insight into her story and others. Within the first few pages, I was hooked. Her thoughts were my thoughts because I was the one who needs to redefine my WHY. There were many obstacles I had to encounter but Bray acknowledges in her book that I am not alone. Reading her story, along with her contributors’ story, I need to focus on my own story and not live through others.”
Kristen Koppers is an author and teaches English 2, English 4 College Prep, and Rhetoric 101 and 102 (a dual credit course through Joliet Junior College) at Joliet West High School in Joliet, IL
“Barbara Bray knows how to weave storytelling, research, and practical ways to Define Your WHY since she has lived it. The importance of this topic for educators and others is knowing that we don’t have to follow what others think is best for us but make us unhappy or unfulfilled. This book mentions so many personal and professional examples and shares other educators’ stories about the search for their WHY. It’s also filled with resources that enhance and supplement this book. I highly recommend it!”
Dr. Ilene Winokur, a blogger, podcast host, and president of the Global Collaboration Network (ISTE) lives in Kuwait
“Important book for these times of COVID 19. It helps you with perspective taking and help you live a life of purpose, no matter the situation. I found it uplifting to read this book. It’s well written and concise and leaves you with a lot to ruminate and action on. Highly recommended!”
Shilpi Mahajan is Founder (Fablefy), a womenpreneur, and creator of the online Mindfulness-based SEL programs
“Every now and then a book on education comes out that is a MUST for all to read. Regardless of who you are—educator, parent, researcher—you ARE a human being. Thus, this book will resonate with you and support you in every way as a “whole being”—cognitively, socially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Most of all, it will validate what you already know to be true in your heart. Thank you, Barbara, for sharing your story and this book with all of us!”
Dr. Sara Truebridge, Author of Resilience Begins w/Beliefs; Moderator #resiliencechat, TED Talk presenter; and Ed. Consultant to movies
“Barbara has written an amazing book for educators looking to discover their “why” or refine their practice. It is an amazingly personal book highlighting Barbara’s work to put learners first in the classroom. It’s a wonderful book to grow your personal and professional practice.”
Michael Mohammad is a high school science teacher in Elmbrook School District in Wisconsin who writes a blog post, Mo Physics, Mo Problems
Define Your Why is more than a quick how-to book, it is a transformative book. Barbara takes you on a journey filled with personal stories and activities that encourage you to focus on your own story and your purpose, your WHY. She doesn’t stop there. She continues to help you define your why and how it not only encompasses all areas of your life but how to use your why for a greater purpose.
This book has it all! Not only does Barbara Bray share her personal stories, but she has also invited other thought leaders to share their stories and thinking around their whys. Along with defining activities, QR codes, and resources I must say this will be a book I will cherish for a very long time. As Barbara mentions, our why continues to change as we grow, so I will be holding this book close.
I highly recommend this book to anyone seeking to understand themselves more deeply in order to see more clearly how your passions and goals fit into your plan.
Kellie Bahri, 5th-grade facilitator, presenter, 2018-2019 TOY, cohost of @ExchangeEDUPod, and is committed to making a difference
I was honored to share my WHY story in this book. When Barbara asked me to share my story I initially felt concerned that my story wouldn’t be interesting to others. After I moved past the fear of others’ opinions I got down to the work of reflecting and evaluating my story and how it had brought me to where I am in life. I then began to think of the experiences that I’ve had and the relationships that I’ve chosen and how that has prepared me uniquely to have an impact in an area that I am very passionate about.
When the book was published and I was able to read the wisdom and authenticity that is shared in this book I began to feel not only connected to my WHY, but to other people who are in a similar inquiry. This book taught me valuable lessons not only about myself and my WHY but about others and how I can be intentional about my impact on the story of those around me. Now, more than ever, at this time in history, we must become intentional about our stories and connecting with our WHY. This book is a great launch into this conversation that we all have with ourselves.
Nicole Biscotti, educator, ADHD mom, co-founder of @the_edu_table site and podcast, and author of the book she is writing with her son on ADHD
Don’t let the title fool you. This book is more than the trendy educator notion of defining your WHY. Influencer Barbara Bray provides practical exercises for your life and purpose. Self-help and self-care are intertwined. Go from plodding along in your life and career to passion and purpose.
Pamela Hall, educator, life-long learner, and speaker who encourages educators to be STRONG and embrace self-care
Barbara Bray’s writing style is simple and straight forward, but it stays with you. In it, she shares very personal moments and examines her own life. You cannot help but insert and compare your own story to hers. She gives you tools for “find” yourself, what to live with, and what to leave behind. She intersperses quotations from a number of well-known writers and orators from Mark Twain to James Taylor. There is a lot to think about, read slowly, and enjoy.
Diane Hoeg, a friend and mahjong buddy of Barbara
This was on my reading list for a while and I am so grateful for the opportunity to dive into each chapter of finding my WHY. Inside the pages, I found a great mapping tool to help guide and lead me into finding purpose and definition – both professionally AND personally. More than just a call to action, I encountered specific and beneficial steps to take that will equip any type of leader. It gives a great charge to discover your WHY with passion and intention.
Jillian DuBois, a 2nd-grade teacher in Clearwater, FL, believes in the simple fact that JOY can change our lives
This book is such an essential read, especially right now during/immediately after this world pandemic. So many people are questioning every aspect of their lives. Additionally, a lot of people thought they had everything in their lives figured out. Then, the world paused. As a result, many people are figuring out that they cannot go back to living the way they lived prior to 2020. “Define Your Why” is a journey of self-reflection and introspection that leads to a reinvention of your life or authentically defining your life for the first time. Great authors synthesize information and curate learning that has resonated in their lives and worked for them. Barbara Bray has masterfully achieved this feat in her book.
Traci Nicole Smith, an educator who formed The Educational Epistolary, LLC, a consultancy specializing in the navigation of spiritual awakening.
Barbara Bray’s Define Your Why is an absolute jewel and a must-read. I love how Barbara Bray aka Super Guru uses her story to help you discover/rediscover and define your why. In reading this jewel, one is encouraged to sketch his/her backstory. When I sketched my backstory, I recognized common threads that inspired me to weave a NEW tapestry where every pattern and design are intricately woven to help me create a place/platform where I and others have a sense of belonging, believing, and becoming. If everyone had an opportunity to read Define Your Why, I truly believe a BETTER world would be the end result. When you know your why and define your why, your authentic self emerges and when authenticity occurs, you glow, grow, and sow!!!
Phyllis Hollimon serves as a school division’s Coordinator of Counseling; VSCA Mentoring Coordinator in Virginia