Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Great Summer Read About Leadership

The summer always provides a terrific opportunity to catch up on the books that have been piling up on the nightstand, and this summer is no exception.

Recently I had the pleasure of reading James Kerr’s Legacy, which draws learning lessons from the historically successful All Blacks rugby team of New Zealand that can be applied to leadership development and organizational improvement.

Though Kerr chronicles fifteen lessons specifically, there were several that jumped out for their applicability to leadership in independent schools.  One, Creating a Learning Environment: Leaders are Teachers, seems the most obvious as Kerr discusses the culture of continuous improvement that exists among the team members.  Another, Embrace Expectations: Aim for the Highest Cloud is another that is easily applicable.  Here, he discusses the very high expectations on the team, but also the very high expectations the players set for themselves - not unlike a great independent school refusing to rest on it’s laurels.  Another lesson, Play With a Purpose: Ask Why?, has the organization asking the why of their commitment, their dedication, their inspiration as an enlightened cause and a motivation for purpose.  It’s an inspiring message, and easy to relate to education.

The lessons are easily transferrable to any business or organization and the text provides many pragmatic approaches to implementing successful leadership, whether as a member of a world-famous rugby team, or leading an independent school.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Summer Reading!

In anticipation of a restful summer, the faculty submitted titles of books as recommended reading. The school provided the first eleven titles (here in red with descriptions from Amazon) to faculty and we look forward to great discussions when we return.

The entire list is below if you are looking for some great reads this summer!

1. American Girls:  Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers, Nancy Jo Sales
Award-winning Vanity Fair writer Nancy Jo Sales crisscrossed the country talking to more than two hundred girls between the ages of thirteen and nineteen about their experiences online and off. They are coming of age online in a hypersexualized culture that has normalized extreme behavior, from pornography to the casual exchange of nude photographs; a culture rife with a virulent new strain of sexism; a culture in which teenagers are spending so much time on technology and social media that they are not developing basic communication skills.
The dominant force in the lives of girls coming of age in America today is social media: Instagram, Whisper, Yik Yak, Vine, Youtube, Kik, Ask.fm, Tinder.

2. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead., Brene Brown  
Every day we experience the uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure that define what it means to be vulnerable or to dare greatly. Based on twelve years of pioneering research, Dr. Brené Brown dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and argues that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage.
Brown explains how vulnerability is both the core of difficult emotions like fear, grief, and disappointment, and the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, empathy, innovation, and creativity. She writes: “When we shut ourselves off from vulnerability, we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.”
Daring Greatly is not about winning or losing. It’s about courage. In a world where “never enough” dominates and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive. Uncomfortable. It’s even a little dangerous at times. And, without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of getting criticized or feeling hurt. But when we step back and examine our lives, we will find that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as standing on the outside of our lives looking in and wondering what it would be like if we had the courage to step into the arena—whether it’s a new relationship, an important meeting, the creative process, or a difficult family conversation.

3. The Essential Conversation: What Parents and Teachers Can Learn from Each Other, Sara Lawrence Lightfoot
With the insights she has gleaned from her close and subtle observation of parent-teacher conferences, renowned Harvard University professor Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot has written a wise, useful book about the ways in which parents and teachers can make the most of their essential conversation—the dialogue between the most vital people in a child’s life.

4. The Gardener and the Carpenter, What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children, Alison Gopnik
Caring deeply about our children is part of what makes us human. Yet the thing we call "parenting" is a surprisingly new invention. In the past thirty years, the concept of parenting and the multibillion dollar industry surrounding it have transformed child care into obsessive, controlling, and goal-oriented labor intended to create a particular kind of child and therefore a particular kind of adult. In The Gardener and the Carpenter, the pioneering developmental psychologist and philosopher Alison Gopnik argues that the familiar twenty-first-century picture of parents and children is profoundly wrong--it's not just based on bad science, it's bad for kids and parents, too.
Drawing on the study of human evolution and her own cutting-edge scientific research into how children learn, Gopnik shows that although caring for children is profoundly important, it is not a matter of shaping them to turn out a particular way. Children are designed to be messy and unpredictable, playful and imaginative, and to be very different both from their parents and from each other. The variability and flexibility of childhood lets them innovate, create, and survive in an unpredictable world. “Parenting" won't make children learn―but caring parents let children learn by creating a secure, loving environment.
5. Innovator’s Mindset, by George Couros
Kids walk into schools full of wonder and questions. How you, as an educator, respond to students' natural curiosity can help further their own exploration and shape the way they learn today and in the future.
The traditional system of education requires students to hold their questions and compliantly stick to the scheduled curriculum. But our job as educators is to provide new and better opportunities for our students. It's time to recognize that compliance doesn't foster innovation, encourage critical thinking, or inspire creativity--and those are the skills our students need to succeed.
In The Innovator's Mindset, George Couros encourages teachers and administrators to empower their learners to wonder, to explore--and to become forward-thinking leaders. If we want innovative students, we need innovative educators. In other words, innovation begins with you. Ultimately, innovation is not about a skill set: it's about a mindset.

6. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't, Simon Sinek
Imagine a world where almost everyone wakes up inspired to go to work, feels trusted and valued during the day, then returns home feeling fulfilled. This is not a crazy, idealized notion. Today, in many successful organizations, great leaders create environments in which people naturally work together to do remarkable things.
In his work with organizations around the world, Simon Sinek noticed that some teams trust each other so deeply that they would literally put their lives on the line for each other. Other teams, no matter what incentives are offered, are doomed to infighting, fragmentation and failure. Why?
The answer became clear during a conversation with a Marine Corps general. "Officers eat last," he said. Sinek watched as the most junior Marines ate first while the most senior Marines took their place at the back of the line. What's symbolic in the chow hall is deadly serious on the battlefield: Great leaders sacrifice their own comfort--even their own survival--for the good of those in their care.
     Too many workplaces are driven by cynicism, paranoia, and self-interest. But the best ones foster trust and cooperation because their leaders build what Sinek calls a "Circle of Safety" that separates the security inside the team from the challenges outside.

7. Legacy, James Kerr
Best-selling author James Kerr goes deep into the heart of the world's most successful sporting team, the legendary All Blacks of New Zealand, to reveal 15 powerful and practical lessons for leadership and business.
Legacy is a unique, inspiring handbook for leaders in all fields, and asks: What are the secrets of success - sustained success? How do you achieve world-class standards, day after day, week after week, year after year? How do you handle pressure? How do you train to win at the highest level? What do you leave behind you after you're gone?

8. Most Likely to Succeed, Tony Wagner (note - we will be showing the film in the fall)
The basis for a major documentary, two leading experts sound an urgent call for the radical reimagining of American education so we can equip students for the realities of the twenty-first-century economy. “If you read one book about education this decade, make it this one” (Adam Braun, bestselling author and founder of Pencils of Promise).
Today more than ever, we prize academic achievement, pressuring our children to get into the “right” colleges, have the highest GPAs, and pursue advanced degrees. But while students may graduate with credentials, by and large they lack the competencies needed to be thoughtful, engaged citizens and to get good jobs in our rapidly evolving economy. Our school system was engineered a century ago to produce a workforce for a world that no longer exists. Alarmingly, our methods of schooling crush the creativity and initiative young people really need to thrive in the twenty-first century.

9. Move Your Bus, Ron Clark
Teamwork is crucial to the success of any business, and as acclaimed author and speaker Ron Clark illustrates, the members of any team are the key to unlocking success. Imagine a company as a bus filled with people who either help or hinder a team’s ability to move it forward: drivers (who steer the organization), runners (who consistently go above and beyond for the good of the organization), joggers (who do their jobs without pushing themselves), walkers (who are just getting pulled along), and riders (who hinder success and drag the team down). It’s the team leader’s job to recognize how members fall into these categories, encourage them to keep the “bus” moving by working together, and know when it’s time to kick the riders off.

10. Punished by Rewards, Alfie Kohn
The basic strategy we use for raising children, teaching students, and managing workers can be summarized in six words: Do this and you'll get that. We dangle goodies (from candy bars to sales commissions) in front of people in much the same way we train the family pet. Drawing on a wealth of psychological research, Alfie Kohn points the way to a more successful strategy based on working with people instead of doing things to them. "Do rewards motivate people?" asks Kohn. "Yes. They motivate people to get rewards." Seasoned with humor and familiar examples, Punished By Rewards presents an argument unsettling to hear but impossible to dismiss.

11. Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, Beverly Tatum
Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see Black, White, and Latino youth clustered in their own groups. Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy? Beverly Daniel Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides. These topics have only become more urgent as the national conversation about race is increasingly acrimonious.

Other Titles As Recommended by Faculty (in no particular order)

On Excellence in Teaching- (chapters by some of the greats in pedagogy and curriculum) edited by Robert Marzano

Good to Great in the Social Sector - Jim Collins

Opposable Mind: Winning Through Integrative Thinking by Roger Martin

Love That Boy: What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips, and My Son Taught Me About A Parent’s Expectations by Ron Fournier. It is a beautiful story that definitely touches the heart and hits home for me personally as the mother of a special needs child; however, I think it would be an excellent read for any teacher or parent.  Here is the synopsis:
Love That Boy is a uniquely personal story about the causes and costs of outsized parental expectations. What we want for our children—popularity, normalcy, achievement, genius—and what they truly need—grit, empathy, character—are explored by National Journal’s Ron Fournier, who weaves his extraordinary journey to acceptance around the latest research on childhood development and stories of other loving-but-struggling parents.

Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee

On Human Nature, Roger Scruton

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (fiction)  

You are the Placebo by Joe Dispenza.  

The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo (fiction)

Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown.

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.  

Money: Master the Game by Tony Robbins.  This book is fascinating.  You don't need to drink the Tony Robbins Kool-aid to find this useful.  I worked in Finance for 10 years and had no idea how it all worked.  I'm 2/3 through this now, and I think EVERYONE would benefit from reading this.  

News of the World by Paulette Jiles. Historical fiction, Texas setting, post Civil War. Fairly short, top notch writing, not too “heavy” for summer reading. National Book Award Finalist. Overall fabulous. National Book Award notes: http://www.nationalbook.org/nba2016finalist_f_jiles-news-of-the-world.html#.WP-pMmnyuUk
Grunt by Mary Roach. Nonfiction essays about “The Curious Science of Humans at War.”  Shark repellent, stinky smells, caffeinated meat, sensitive post-explosion plastic surgery reconstruction and more. Dry, wry humor, even as she tackles serious topics about current day warfare. https://www.amazon.com/Grunt-Curious-Science-Humans-War/dp/1786070898/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=
The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery. While researching octopi for a book for middle grade readers, Montgomery was enthralled at how intelligent and full of personality the creatures are. Combines big picture thoughts about nature and ecology, with an individual octopus love story, the Boston Aquarium, ocean facts and more —all with a funny and readable writing.  National Book Award finalist. From the author’s website: http://symontgomery.com/soul-of-an-octopus/

Reading in the Wild:  The Book Whisperer's Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits by Donalyn Miller
This author lives in the Metroplex and is happy to do school visits.  I think she would be an inspiring speaker to feature, especially if our teachers read either of her books.  She has concrete suggestions for promoting reading for all ages, from emerging readers to big kids like us.

Anything from the Pirate series - Teach Like a Pirate, Lead Like a Pirate, Learn Like a Pirate, Play..., Explore…

Hacking Leadership

Ditch That Textbook

Start Right Now

Renegade Leadership

School Culture Recharged

Make it Stick


Creative Confidence

Creating Innovators

The Zen Teacher

Dive Into Inquiry

The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey

The Genius in All of Us by David Shenk

The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner

The Whole Brain Child but have not read it yet.

Missoula by John Krakauer

The Price of Privilege by Madeline Levine

Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance
The End of Molasses Classes: Getting Our Kids Unstuck--101 Extraordinary Solutions for Parents and Teachers by Ron Clark
The Excellent 11: Qualities Teachers and Parents Use to Motivate, Inspire, and Educate Children by Ron Clark

I have really enjoy reading Kids Deserve It with our small group and feel it has been very advantageous.

Towers Falling – Bluebonnet for next year regarding the impact we all feel in the aftermath of 9/11 https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/jewell-parker-rhodes/towers-falling/ ).

In Defense of Read-Aloud: Sustaining Best Practice by Steven Layne
  Description from Amazon:
The practice of reading aloud to children may be viewed by some educators as an extra a bit of fluff used solely for the purposes of enjoyment or filling a few spare minutes. But researchers and practitioners stand in solidarity: the practice of reading aloud throughout the grades is not only viable but also best practice.
In Defense of Read-Aloud reinforces readers confidence to continue the practice of reading aloud and presents the research base to defend the practice in grades K 12. Steven Layne also offers significant practical insights to strengthen instructional practice answering the questions of 'Why should we?' and 'How should we?' and provides practical advice about how to use read-alouds most effectively.
Read-aloud is an essential practice in teaching literacy in grades K 12. In this book, Steven Layne has provided everything needed to support, sustain, and celebrate the power of read-aloud.
Start. Right. Now.  by Todd Whitaker, Jeffrey Zoul, and Jimmy Casas
Description from Amazon:
Are You Ready to Take the First Step Toward Excellence? What does it take to be the very best teacher--or the very best leader? What sets excellent educators apart from their peers? And how can you join their ranks?
In their work leading up to Start. Right. Now. Todd Whitaker, Jeff Zoul, and Jimmy Casas studied educators from across the nation and discovered four key behaviors of excellence:
Excellent Leaders and Teachers…
Know the Way: From their content to best practices, these educators know their stuff.
Show the Way: Casting a bright vision for the future, these educators see possibilities where others see problems.
Go the Way: Leading by example is a way of life for the very best.
and Grow Each Day: A focus on personal and professional development helps these educators succeed.
Wherever you are on your journey as an educator, choose to become even greater still--our kids are worth it.
Start. Right. Now.
Deliberate Optimism: Reclaiming the Joy in Education by Debbie Silver, Jack Berckenmeyer, and Judith Baenen
Description from Amazon:
Beat burnout and bring joy back to teaching—and learning!
Recharge the optimism that made you an educator in the first place! Choosing optimism—even in the face of tough challenges—helps restore the healthy interactions and positive relationships necessary for enacting real school change. Filled with research-based strategies, practical examples, and thought-provoking scenarios, this inspiring, humorous book gets you ready to
  • Rediscover motivation
  • Take a positive view of events beyond your control
  • Build an optimistic classroom where students flourish
  • Partner with other stakeholders to create an optimistic learning environment
What Connected Educators Do Differently by Todd Whitaker, Jeffrey Zoul, and Jimmy Casas
Description from Amazon:
Todd Whitaker, Jeffrey Zoul, and Jimmy Casas are widely acclaimed experts on teaching and leading and are pioneers in the education twitterverse, and now they are sharing their best practices!
In What Connected Educators Do Differently, they show how being a connected educator―by using social media to connect with peers across the country and even across the globe―will greatly enhance your own learning and your success in a school or classroom. You’ll find out how to create a personal and professional learning network to share resources and ideas, gain support, and make an impact on others. By customizing your professional development in this way, you’ll be able to learn what you want, how you want, when you want. Best of all, you’ll become energized and inspired by all the great ideas out there and how you can contribute, benefiting both you and your students.
Whether you are a teacher or school leader, you will come away from this book with step-by-step advice and fresh ideas to try immediately. Being a connected educator has never been easier or more important than it is right now! 
I Wish My Teacher Knew: How One Question Can Change Everything For Our Kids by Kyle Schwartz
Description from Amazon:
One day, third-grade teacher Kyle Schwartz asked her students to fill-in-the-blank in this sentence: "I wish my teacher knew _____."
The results astounded her. Some answers were humorous, others were heartbreaking-all were profoundly moving and enlightening. The results opened her eyes to the need for educators to understand the unique realities their students face in order to create an open, safe and supportive place in the classroom. When Schwartz shared her experience online, #IWishMyTeacherKnew became an immediate worldwide viral phenomenon.
Schwartz's book tells the story of #IWishMyTeacherKnew, including many students' emotional and insightful responses, and ultimately provides an invaluable guide for teachers, parents, and communities.

Paper Wishes by Louis Sepahban
Kirkus Review:
“During World War II, Manami and her parents and grandfather are forced to relocate from Bainbridge Island in Washington to Manzanar, an internment camp in California for Japanese-Americans. As they’re about to leave behind everything they own, Manami snatches Yujiin, their beloved dog, into her coat before anyone sees. Sadly, a soldier catches Manami, and Yujiin is left behind in a crate.
Heartbroken, guilt-ridden over Yujiin, and fearful of their Manzanar “prison-village,” Manami loses her voice. The relentless, swirling red dirt that coats her throat with mud worsens her silence. Her parents try to make a home in their one-room barrack, while their son, Ron, leaves college to join them.
A breath of fresh air is felt when Manami meets her teacher, Miss Rosalie, who doesn’t make her speak but offers Manami plenty of paper and pencils. When Manami sends hand-drawn messages via the wind to Yujiin, she hopes that the little dog will get them and find his way back home.
Hardships, injustice, and the emotional truth of Manami’s camp life are thoughtfully portrayed through simple and heart-rending prose. Despite the barbed wire fence and harsh climate, Mother’s garden, mounds bearing garlic and onion seeds, becomes a symbol for resiliency. Graceful moments between Manami and Grandfather shine, giving hope to an unbearable situation.”
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Description from Amazon:
Fifteen-year-old Lina is a Lithuanian girl living an ordinary life--until Soviet officers invade her home and tear her family apart.
Separated from her father and forced onto a crowded train, Lina, her mother, and her young brother make their way to a Siberian work camp, where they are forced to fight for their lives.
Lina finds solace in her art, documenting these events by drawing. Risking everything, she imbeds clues in her drawings of their location and secretly passes them along, hoping her drawings will make their way to her father's prison camp.
But will strength, love, and hope be enough for Lina and her family to survive?

A Passion for Leadership, Robert Gates

Teach your children well, Madeline Levine
(https://www.amazon.com/Teach-Your-Children-Well-Envelopes/dp/0062196847). It really helps you understand the mindset and developmental experiences of teenagers. I recommend it for MS and US, especially (and any parent).

The Collaborative Habit: Life Lessons for Working Together by Twyla Tharp
Have been wanting to read this; am a fan of her previous book: The Creative Habit
Sparks of Genius: The 13 Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People by Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein
Read this several years ago as part of a book club with museum educator colleagues.

LAUNCH: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Every Student by John Spencer and AJ Juliani

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance.

“Vance’s analysis of rural, white poverty is well-written, concise, and impassioned. Above all, it is accurate.He does an excellent job articulating what, precisely, makes overcoming rural poverty so difficult and why rural, working-class whites are so angry. It’s a book that people who work with children of privilege—and, for that matter, children of privilege themselves—badly need to read. Insulated within cities, safely within range of NPR stations and broadband internet connections and bookstores and museums and prestigious private schools, it is easy for those of us who live in Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston, New York, San Francisco or Chicago to lose sight of the struggles of those who have to get by without them. Increasingly, those of us who live in cities, within sight of wealth and privilege even if we do not personally have access to them, live in entirely different worlds than our fellow citizens who do not. Hillbilly Elegy is an excellent first step towards understanding that other world.”