11 Female Teachers Who Changed the World: International Women’s Day 2018

An article by Richard James Rogers (Author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management)

Illustrated by Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati (The best illustrator in the world!)

Women perform a large number of essential and unique roles in society.

That fact is undeniable.

lab girls

From authors and actresses to CEOs and engineers: Women prove time and time again that they can perform any job just as efficiently and professionally as any man can.

As a high school Science and Chemistry Teacher I am truly honored to work with a team of incredibly dedicated female colleagues. Some of the best teachers in the whole world are women, and here’s why:

  • They are caring and nurturing: essential characteristics when teaching and helping children and young adults
  • They are efficient and incredibly organised
  • They are passionate
  • They are truly dedicated to the profession
  • They are just great teachers, period!

All teachers, male or female, are heroes and heroins: we inspire the next generation with our tireless efforts to educate, sustain, help and care for our learners.

This blog post celebrates the lives and works of ten truly exceptional female teachers who continue to inspire and influence educational thought, methodologies and practice in classrooms and universities all over the world. Their work not only benefits others but shapes and molds traditional pedagogy so that it continually evolves and improves as the years go by.

With any ‘11 Best’ list we have to very selective – not everyone can be included! If you feel that another female teacher is worthy of mention then please do comment using the box at the bottom of the page.

All but one these amazing women has a twitter handle. If you click on the twitter image it’ll take you to that person’s twitter page.

Why not send a nice message to your favourite out of these 11 women? In celebration of International Women’s Day 2018, a nice message on Twitter to thank one or more of these women for their amazing work will go a long way and will probably bring a smile to their faces.

If you’re reading this on a mobile device then it might be best to switch to ‘reader view’ now, as the many images below may make the layout a bit messy. 

So now let’s begin our celebration of women in education!

Sue Cowley

Sue Cowley Amazon Image

I was first introduced to Sue Cowley in 2008 when I was a struggling NQT. I walked into my local bookstore in Chester and a book title instantly attracted my attention: ‘Getting the Buggers to Behave’.

I read that book from cover to cover 3 times in 7 days: I found it completely compelling and totally ‘unputdownable’. The advice in the book: such as the dynamics of giving students a second chance to redeem themselves by not punishing immediately, really made sense to me. I just hadn’t thought about behavior management in this way before! It was a truly life-changing experience!

Sue Cowley Behave

I like books that are practical and entertaining and Sue’s book was definitely that. If you’re struggling with behavior management then you MUST get this book! It could save your career (and your sanity)!

12 years after I read ‘Getting the Buggers to Behave’ and we find that Sue has build up an impressive international reputation as an educational influencer, teacher-trainer, speaker and bestselling author of twenty books! Sue was even recently called to appear as an Expert Witness on behavior in schools for the Education Select Committee made up of MPs from the UK Parliament.

I think it’s right to say that Sue’s advice works!


Her latest book:The Ultimate Guide to Differentiation’ (which is brand new, being published literally three days ago on March 8th!) seems set to rocket to the bestselling charts just like the legendary ‘Getting the Buggers to Behave’ did. Check it out on Amazon by clicking on the image below.

Sue Cowley Differentiation

Starr Sackstein

Sarr Sackstein 2

Starr Sackstein is one of those all-time inspirational grassroots teachers who discovered the right way to do things and the right way to tell the world about it!

Her teaching career started just over 16 years ago in Far Rockaway High School, where she was keen to have an impact and make a difference in the lives of so many. She quickly mastered rapport-building with her students and recognized, on a deep level, the most important part of teaching: relationships. To this day, Sackstein continues to elevate and develop her students by putting them at the center of their learning.


Sackstein has authored a large number of truly uplifting, enriching and thought-provoking works including my personal favorite: Peer Feedback in the Classroom’. I’ve read this book a whopping three times and I can honestly say that it is perfect for understanding what meaningful feedback looks like (and it’s not about percentages and numbers!).

Peer Feedback

Most recently, Sackstein was named as an ASCD Emerging Leader and had the opportunity to give a TEDxTalk about throwing out grades called A Recovering Perfectionist’s Journey To Give Up Grades.

Education Write Now

Starr effectively balances her career of writing and teaching with being the mum to her 12 year old son: Logan. If ‘inspirational’ and ‘life-changing’ were adjectives that could be measured in numbers (contrary to Sackstein’s advice), then she would definitely score 100%. 

Check out her latest emotive and truly game-changing advice in the legendary book ‘Education Write Now’ which was published in January (available on Amazon).

Angela Watson


As an internationally recognized educational blogger, Angela brings a wealth of ideas and life-changing solutions to the teaching profession. She started blogging in 2003 with her trailblazing and groundbreaking website for educators everywhere: Ms. Powell’s Management Ideas for TeachersAs a place to share tips and techniques on behavior management, organisation and teaching methodologies, the site expanded and evolved into the world-famous The Cornerstone for Teachers in 2008. 


I was personally very humbled, lucky and grateful to be invited to write a guest blog post which was featured on The Cornerstone for Teachers here: 4 Secrets to Building Rapport with Students 

Homepage The Cornerstone for Teachers

Since the launch of The Cornerstone for Teachers, Angela has been heavily involved in improving the work-life balance and effectiveness of teachers everywhere. Her writing has featured in thousands of magazine articles, newsletters and internet resources and her ideas are utilized extensively in teacher training and preparation courses across America. 

In addition to all of this, Angela founded Due Season Press and Educational Services, through which she has created printable curriculum resourcesonline courses4 booksthe Truth for Teachers podcastand the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club (which is absolutely brilliant).

The world ‘inspirational’ doesn’t go far enough to describe Angela’s work and influence in the field of education. Her teachings inform and benefit teachers all over the world and on International Women’s Day she rightly stands out as a role-model for educators everywhere.

Jennifer Chang-Wathall

Jennifer Wathall LinkedIn

I love mathematics. I love manipulating equations and applying mathematics to problems in Biology and Chemistry. Jennifer Chang-Wathall loves mathematics too: so much so that she developed a revolutionary new way of teaching it!

As a Lecturer at the prestigious University of Hong Kong, Jennifer stands out as woman who’s on a mission to improve how we teach mathematics forever. 

Published in 2016, her pioneering book: Concept-Based Mathematics, achieves what few subject texts can: it connects the dots!


As a former mathematics teacher myself I understand how easy it is to become topic-focused and super-concerned about getting my students to complete problem after problem until they finally ‘get it’. Lower down the school this approach can work to a limited extent, but for advanced students (such as IBDP learners) it’s important to relate mathematics to the ‘big picture’.

Concept Based Mathematics

With Jennifer’s Concept-Based approach, students see how calculus can be applied to radioactive decay or how arithmetic and geometric progressions can be used to model the spread of disease. These cross-curricular and cross topic links within mathematics define a modern approach that encourages real deep-learning, exploration and thorough understanding.

It looks like Jennifer has found a good way to get students to truly love mathematics again! 

Jennifer Wathall Website

In her day-to-day job of changing the world with her transformative mathematics pedagogy, Jennifer runs International Baccalaureate workshops and serves as a field representative for the IB.  She also works as a consultant helping maths departments and schools transition to concept-based curricula and instruction. Her website can be found at www.jenniferwathall.com 

Hanan Al Hroub

Hanan Al Hroub

Born in a Palestinian refugee camp, Hanan Al Hroub is an inspiration to so many. Changing lives one child at a time through her ‘No to Violence‘ message, Hanan Al Hroub uses a unique play she created to get kids to follow a peaceful path of life.

Having suffered from violence herself and having her own children traumatized by a shooting incident on their way home from primary school, Hanan decided to tackle the problem of youth violence head-on. 


By developing trusting relationships with her students and emphasizing the importance of literacy, Hanan’s approach has led to a decline in violent behavior in school and has inspired colleagues to adopt similar methods.She describes how the violence that children experience on the streets gets brought into the classroom. However, after just a few months of following her programme, students show a dramatic improvement in their behavior towards each other.

Hanan was formally recognized for her work when she was crowned Winner of the Varkey Foundation’s Global Teacher Award in 2016. She has also written a game-changing book: We Play and Learn, which continues to inspire and inform Palestinian teaching to this day. 

Global Teacher Prize Winner

Adjima Thaitrong


Adjima (nickname: Mod) has such a unique style of communication that she has earned herself the reputation of being one of the most famous Thai Language teachers in the world.

Her humorous and lively style appeals to expatriate, tourist and online learners alike. Her excellent website at http://learnthaiwithmod.com/ contains lots of excellent articles and great Thai language learning videos that make learning this beautiful language fun and easy.


I’ve personally been an online student of hers for two years. Her videos and resources make learning Thai a really enjoyable experience. She has also has a unique way of ‘raising the bar’ each time without making the learner realise. Students of hers regularly comment that even though her material gets harder as you go along, it doesn’t feel that way because of the free and casual style of her teaching. 

That’s a unique skill that few teachers master.

Learn Thai with Mod

With a Facebook following of almost 28.000 people, Mod provides every netizen with ample and comprehensive access to Thai language learning. Doing away with traditional ‘rote’ earning, Mod’s playful style appeals to a new generation of multi-linguists.

What do I take from Mod on a daily basis? That’s easy – smile, don’t be too serious and have energy: your students will learn better because of it!

Annie Brock

Annie Brock Amazon Image

Annie Brock is a K-12 innovation specialist and the author of three great books: Introduction to Google ClassroomThe Growth Mindset Coach, and The Growth Mindset Playbook.

Annie’s pedagogical ideas have been well-received in the teaching profession, with her books receiving wide-acclaim for their excellent practicality and user-friendly format. The Growth Mindset Coach, for example, outlines a recurring month by month guide to actually developing the growth mindset with students in the classroom.


I personally liked Annie’s book (which was co-authored by Heather Hundley – another inspirational teacher) for it’s ‘mantras’ that create a theme for each month. This makes the book really enjoyable and I can personally vouch for the fact that the techniques work!

The Growth Mindset

Her ‘not yet’ mantra for April, for example, really helped me to create formative and summative assessments that encourage students to go further and deeper with their learning, rather than accepting a point score and moving on. 

Annie lives in Holton, Kansas, with her husband, Jared, and their two children.

Heather Hundley

Heather Hundley

Heather Hundley is a Director of Curriculum and an Assistant Elementary Principal in Kansas. She co-authored of two pioneering and influential books with Annie Brock: The Growth Mindset Coach and The Growth Mindset Playbook.

Both books are absolutely brilliant and I would recommend them both. Additionally, The Growth Mindset Playbook is particularly good for improving communication with students and includes many great examples of engaging and effective lesson plans. 


Bottom-line: Heather and Annie write sense! Read their books – they’ll change the way you see yourself and your students! 

Heather is also very active on Twitter, where she offers lots of advice and tips on how encourage a growth mindset with students, colleagues and even parents!

Growth Mindset Playbook

Now that’s useful!

Heather lives in Holton, Kansas with her husband and their three children.

Roberta Bondar

Roberta Bondar

Roberta Bondar is Canada’s first female astronaut and the first ever neurologist to go into space. After spending more than a decade as NASA’s head of space medicine, Roberta became a consultant and speaker in the scientific, business and medical communities.

Roberta’s work has touched so many lives and she has been recognised by many honours and awards including the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario, the NASA Space Medal, over 22 honorary degrees and induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.


Respected for her expertise and clear teaching style, Roberta has been a star guest on television and radio networks throughout the United States and Canada. She featured in the 1994 movie Destiny in Space, and has also co-presented the Discovery Channel’s coverage of space shuttle launches.

On the Shuttle

Roberta co-authored the legendary 1993 book (which is now a collector’s item): On the Shuttle. This book provides a mind-blowing look at life on the world’s first International Microgravity Laboratory and is great for teaching kids about life in Space.

Elizabeth E. Bailey


Bailey grew up in New York City, where she graduated from the Chapin School in 1956. She received her bachelor’s degree from the Radcliffe College, a master’s degree from Stevens Institute of Technology and her Ph.D. from Princeton University, where she was the first woman ever to receive a doctoral degree in economics. Bailey was the first woman appointed as a department head at Bell Laboratories (she led the economic research section there). Elizabeth worked in technical programming and economic research at Bell Laboratories from 1960 to 1977.

Bailey joined The Wharton School in July 1991, having served from July 1990 to June 1991 as a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, andas a visiting scholar at the Yale School of Organization and Management. She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1997. 

She is still incredibly busy and active despite her any years of outstanding contribution and service. She serves on the Board of Directors of TIAA-CREF, Altria, and CSX Corporation and is a trustee of The Brookings Institution and a member of the National Bureau of Economic Research. Elizabeth has also been the Vice Chairmen of Bancroft NeuroHealth since 1989.

Elizabeth’s best-known work is her book: Economic Theory of Regulatory ConstraintPublished in 1972, this iconic book is a collectors item and is still used as a staple reference for economics undergraduates all over the world.

Economic Theory of Regulatory Constraint

Elizabeth’s achievements and contributions to the fields of economics and organizational management are globally significant and nothing short of legendary.

Elizabeth Wharton

Ann Cotton OBE


No list about about amazing and inspirational women would be complete without a girl from my home country: Wales.

Cardiff-born Ann Cotton gave up her regular teaching job and founded the Campaign for Female Education, also known as CAMFED, in 1993.CAMFED is an organisation that educates young women in rural Africa. Her work has supported African girls through school and helped to improve their living standards: lifting them out of poverty.


By giving the opportunity of education to girls in poor African communities she has changed their lives forever.

Ann Cotton in Africa

That’s what heroins do, and Ann Cotton is definitely a heroin.

The model that she follows is to create sustainability in part through CAMA: a 25,000-member pan-African network of CAMFED graduates who are now rural businesswomen, and have become role models for their communities through the economic independence they have achieved for themselves. Almost 5,000 of these graduates have become teachers: further propagating the message of hope for so many.

Ann was awarded the Wise prize at an education summit in Qatar in 2014 and was recognised by the OECD for best practice in development innovation. She was also honoured with an Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.) in 2006 in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

In Recognition

As a small token of gratitude from teachers everywhere, all of these inspirational women have been sent a copy of my book: The Quick Guide to Classroom Managementalong with a box of chocolates. May teachers everywhere be touched and inspired by the works of these amazing women for many more years to come.



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High School Science and Mathematics Teacher, Author and Blogger. Graduated from Bangor University with a BSc (Hons) degree in Molecular Biology and a PGCE in Secondary Science Education. Richard also holds the coveted Certificate in Mathematics from the Open University (UK). Richard is the award-winning author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management: 45 Secrets That All High School Teachers Need to Know

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