Staff Recommended Reading List

The staff of State Support Team 4 would like to use this space to share with you our favorite books. Each month you will be introduced to a new staff recommended book. We hope that you find something new to consider and possibly impact your personal professional development. 
  
Happy Reading!

February Recommended Read

Everyday Courage for School Leaders

By: Cathy Lassiter 

 

Book reviewed by: Liesl Blackwell

Book Synopsis:

Everyday Courage for School Leaders is centered around the idea of courage as a necessary componenet of leadership. This book is designed to help leaders understand the role that courage plays in leadership and gives steps for taking specific action to move toward courageous leadership practices. 

At the heart of this book you will find three foundational ideas: 

      1. Leaders must have the courage to lead an agenda based on equity and excellence for all students. 

      2. Courage is a learned trait and can be strengthened with the right mindset and practice.

      3. Strong instructional leadership requires everyday courage.

Beyond identifying courageous practices, readers are given the opportunity to make specific plans and to take action on those plans. The reader is asked to self-assess and reflect on their current professional practices. Reflective prompts ask the reader to drill down into specific areas of action in each of the three categories of courageous leadership (trust, accountability, and risk-taking).

 

Why I Recommend This Book: 

A leader is constantly bombarded with situations requiring a decision, answer, or response. Leadership decisions being made are rooted in the belief system of the leader and their willingness to stay the course with a decision that may not be popular but is still the right thing to do. How courageous are you? Dive into this book and see!


January Recommended Read

Flourish
By: Martin E. P. Seligman 
 
 
 
Book reviewed by: Krista Dickens
 

Book Synopsis:

Learning about well-being, promotes well- being. Flourish by Dr. Martin Seligman is a captivating read that defines well-being through positive psychology and identifies how to apply it personally and professionally.
 
Educators may be most intrigued by the information regarding Positive Education: Teaching Well-Being to Young People. Though a specific program and curriculum are highlighted, the content covered and the strategies for teaching, embedding and living well-being is enough to lead to game changing conversations and practices in schools. Comments from Dr Seligman such as, "I want a revolution in world education" and "Schools at every level should teach these skills [of well-being or how to have more positive emotion, more meaning, better relationships, and more positive accomplishment]" will resonate with educators for sure!
 

Why I Recommend This Book:

Flourish may initially grab your attention as an educator, but it will keep you reading by identifying ways to flourish that you may relate to- directly or indirectly (via a loved one) including: the treatment of depression, psychological fitness of military personnel, addressing trauma, promoting physical health, and growing GRIT/ character/achievement. Sprinkled throughout the book, you’ll find free, easy and effective exercises you can use personally to promote your own well-being (e.g.  Kindness Exercise- Find one wholly unexpected kind thing to do tomorrow and just do it; notice what happens to your mood. Identifying your Signature Strengths at www.authentichappiness.org) Get this book, then get ready to dial up your own well-being, happy reading! 

December Recommended Read

The End of Average

By: Todd Rose 

 

Book reviewed by:  Steve Ramos

Book Synopsis:

Todd Rose, the author of The End of Average, introduces readers to the potential faults of using "the average" to make determinations about what's best for an individual using a "one size fits all" approach. From fighter pilot cockpits to GPAs and SAT scores to personality tests, Rose exposes the lost potential of the individual by designing and comparing to "the average".

Why I Recommend This Book: 

The End of Average really made a lot of sense to me! We are all unique. We all have strengths and these strengths are often context dependent. As a parent and educator, this book helped me see and understand the great value in maximizing the potential of individuals through their uniqueness!

November Recommended Read

What Great Principals Do Differently

By: Todd Whitaker 

 

Book reviewed by:  Crystal Bryski

Book Synopsis:

“Inspire yourself and others with the second edition of this best-selling book. With heartfelt advice, practical wisdom, and examples from the field, Todd Whitaker explains the qualities and practices that distinguish great principals. Discover what you can do differently.” 

Why I Recommend This Book: 

This is a great resource for both new and experienced school principals.  In fact, I would highly recommend this book to anyone holding a leadership position!  Todd Whitaker expertly identifies and describes 18 effective strategies to help put any school on the path to success.  Essentially, these strategies help principals create and sustain a culture that supports all students by cultivating an environment that “focuses on people--not programs.” In today’s educational landscape, the role of the school principal can be overwhelming, yet this resource is a positive way to help make the job a little more manageable.     

October Recommended Read

10 Mindframes For Visible Learning
By: John Hattie and Klaus Zierer
 
 
 

Book reviewed by:  Merrie Darrah

Book Synopsis:

The original Visible Learning research concluded that one of the most important influencers of student achievement is how teachers think about learning. In Ten Mindframes for Visible Learning, John Hattie and Klaus Zierer define the ten behaviors or mindframes that teachers need to practice in order to maximize student success. These include:

  • thinking of and evaluating your impact on students' learning;
  • the importance of assessment and feedback for teachers;
  • working collaboratively and the sense of community;
  • the notion that learning needs to be challenging;
  • engaging in dialogue and the correct balance between talking and listening;
  • conveying the success criteria to learners;
  • building positive relationships. 

These powerful “mindframes”, which should underpin every action in schools, are founded on the principle that teachers are evaluators, change agents, learning experts, and are constantly engaged with dialogue and challenge.

 

Why I Recommend This Book: 

A helpful book for teachers, coaches and instructional leaders. This book has an interesting approach to help improve the teaching techniques and understand the current issues in education. Mindframes includes questionnaires, scenarios, checklists, and exercises, to help utilize and embed Hattie's mindframes into education systems and structures.

 

September Recommended Read

Roots and Wings: Affirming Culture and Preventing Bias in Early Childhood
By: Stacey York
 

Book reviewed by:  Teresa Brown

Book Synopsis:

Early childhood classrooms are becoming increasingly diverse. Providing culturally relevant care and education should be part of the foundation of high-quality child care and early education. "Roots and Wings" provides an overview of multicultural and anti-bias issues in the classroom and challenges the reader to reflect on and clarify their own cultural identity and attitudes towards other races, cultures, and language groups.

Why I Recommend This Book:

This book is full of activities, examples, and strategies designed to prevent bias in early childhood education. 

 

 

August Recommended Read

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing
by: Daniel H. Pink 
  

Book Reviewed By: Pam Kennedy

Book Synopsis:

In When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Daniel Pink exposes hidden daily patterns and then shares when it's best to schedule events and make decisions. This isn't a "how to" book. It's a "when to" guide. Pink uses modern science to illustrate how thoughtful scheduling can improve your life performance at work, in school or even in leisure time. The big "Ah Ha": Based on a daily oscillation of peak, trough and rebound, positive emotions grow stronger as the morning progresses, significantly decline in the afternoon only to rise again in the evening. And knowing your genetically predetermined chronotype helps. Relying on fields of research, Pink provides guidelines to determine if you are a Lark, Owl or Third Bird. If the suggestions for using this nugget of knowledge don't keep you glued to the pages, Pink's insights on how to get the most from each stage of a project in "Part 2: Beginnings, Endings and in Between" and "Part 3: The Secrets of Group Timing" sure should.

Why I Recommend This Book: 

Because of these five "takeaways":

  • Success may be based more on WHEN than on WHY. We've all been following Simon Sinek and starting with WHY. We might want to start looking at WHEN. I'm open to trying any hack, particularly research based hacks, to assist in improving job performance and career satisfaction.
  • Work requiring deep executive function (and if your job doesn't, is it really work?) along with major decisions should be tackled early in the day.
  • Most people are happiest in the morning, grumpier in the afternoon and then happy again in the evening. I'll be scheduling professional development sessions and meetings early in the day or after work. Consider making those tough phone calls mid morning, just not during my meetings.
  • Naps and daily walks are not luxuries but necessities. You might want to schedule that 2-4 PM short snooze into a sanctioned break or late lunch.
  • Data doesn't lie. I'll rely on Pink's research-based evidence on timing as I schedule my daily meetings, make special work requests and maybe even take a little nap.