Archive for the ‘Leadership Books’ Category

Be Excellent On Purpose: Intentional Strategies for Impactful Leadership by Sanée Bell

Thursday, May 6th, 2021
Sanée Bell Cover

Be Excellent On Purpose: Intentional Strategies for Impactful Leadership by Sanée Bell shares her experience and vision as a school leader. As someone who has taught leadership for aspiring principals, I find her advice to be totally on the money. This would be an excellent book for any school leadership course. It’s also good reading for teachers who don’t aspire to the principalship, but who nonetheless lead in their own way.

Introduction

  • To be excellent on purpose you need to be intentional with your time, intentional with the company you keep, and intentional about where you focus your thinking and energy. This will allow you to set a standard for success and do what it takes to close the gap between where you are and what you are striving to become. Excellence is a journey that requires effort and energy. You will see barriers as obstacles that you can overcome. This book is designed to help you develop habits that will help you lead with excellence.

1. Own Your Excellence

  • As a young girl, Sanée had a vision that she wanted to compete with the boys in her neighborhood. She was clear and intentional about what she wanted to accomplish and built the steps needed to get there. Her vision was the roadmap to the end. It was her strategy for success. Later she was able to generalize her playground success to the rest of her life.
  • Start by thinking about what you want to achieve. Then identify the action steps you need to take. Identify the barriers and develop a plan to eliminate them. As you move forward monitor your progress. As you develop your vision be sure you know why. This is where you will summon your motivation. Your why is what gives your vision meaning and purpose. With your why firmly in place you next have to address how you are going to accomplish your goals. Along the way be honest with others and yourself. As you venture into the unknown try to develop a level of comfort with it and with your own vulnerability. Celebrate your accomplishments rather than feeling like an imposter.
  • Simon Sinek
    Sanée was inspired by Simon Sinek’s TED Talk How Great Leaders Inspire Action. Give it a look.

2. Understand the Power of Words and Actions

  • Sanée’s mantra is “lead with purpose, intention, and excellence. Be excellent on purpose and strive for excellence in all we do.” Success is a result of intentional planning and hard work. Know that everything you do matters and that everyone is watching. Focus on what you can control. While culture work belongs to the group, the leader has the biggest responsibility. Your words need to match your actions. Work to get a commitment to continuous improvement. Ask “where can we continue to grow and improve?” Striving for excellence does not involve making excuses.
  • Start with a focus on what’s strong rather than what’s wrong. Once you do this you can figure out how to make not-so-great areas better. It’s important to determine why what’s working is successful. Then it’s on to finding out why some things aren’t working well. You can give pep talks focused on your mission. Point out obstacles you overcame. Celebrate this achievement with the group and identify the challenges ahead. Speak from the heart and use emotion to inspire the group.

3. Expand Your Connections

  • It is important that leaders use their abilities to connect. They need to broaden their network to include leaders outside of education and leaders around the world. This can greatly expand one’s learning. Think of it as your professional development network (PDL). This will also expose you to new opportunities. Look for people who push your thinking, not just people who always agree. Look for opportunities to meet people at conferences who you follow online.
  • As you expand your virtual support team, be sure to prioritize local face-to-face connections. Sanée suggests that you schedule regular get-togethers with people who can support your work as you support theirs. You also need to manage by walking around. As you do so, check in with the people you lead. Be sure to ask “how are you doing” and as they say “I’m doing fine,” watch their body language to see if it sends the same message or a different one. Ask questions like why and don’t tell them how you solved their problems. Take time to be alone to think and write. Be sure to share what you write, which is easy today thanks to blogs like mine where you can guest post.
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Better By Mistake – Improve your life and performance by Alina Tugend

Thursday, April 14th, 2011
Mistake

This eye-opening book features the big idea that embracing mistakes can make us happier and more productive in every facet of our lives. It examines the tension between the idea that we must make mistakes to learn, and the fact that we often get punished for them. © 2011, Riverside Books: New York, New York

Another Way of Learning

  • My teacher said I learn by making mistakes. Since I didn’t make any today, I guess I didn’t learn anything. This story is followed by the notion that when people think they must do everything perfectly, they can spend energy blaming each other rather than finding a solution. It results in defensiveness and accusations rather than apologies and forgiveness. Mistake prevention gets in the way of daring and innovation. Most of us think that mistakes make us look stupid.

(Re)Defining Mistakes

  • My teacher said I learn by making mistakes. Since I didn’t make any today, I guess I didn’t learn anything. This story is followed by the notion that when people think they must do everything perfectly, they can spend energy blaming each other rather than finding a solution. It results in defensiveness and accusations rather than apologies and forgiveness. Mistake prevention gets in the way of daring and innovation. Most of us think that mistakes make us look stupid.
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Beyond Cut-and-Paste – Jamie McKenzie

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

For four decades Jamie McKenzie has been stressing the importance of engaging students in challenges that require original thought as they deal with new technology. This book takes on that challenge directly. It is designed to support teachers and leaders intent on raising a generation of thinkers capable of asking tough questions while generating good ideas. His insight and the resources in this book are ideal for staff development efforts and graduate courses.

Click here to see my review of this book.

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Blink – Vintage Gladwell

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking is Malcolm Gladwell’s second bestseller. Even though it was written in 2005, the information remains current and valuable. This summary is written with educators in mind. His 3rd book, Outliers, is also available here.

Click here to see my summary Blink.

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Boys and Sex: Young Men on Hookups, Love, Porn, Consent, and Navigating the New Masculinity by Peggy Orenstein

Saturday, July 11th, 2020
Boys and Sex

Boys and Sex: Young Men on Hookups, Love, Porn, Consent, and Navigating the New Masculinity by Peggy Orenstein finishes what she started with Girls and Sex, which is also summarized here. Once again she has conducted many interviews with young men and experts in many fields to paint a picture of how the same social forces that impact girls impact boys. Like her book on girls, all parents, boys, and girls should read my summaries and then get the books.

Introduction: What About the Boys?

  • For this book Peggy increased the sample size of the boys she interviewed to over 100 (She interviewed 72 for the Girls book.) Again they were in college or heading for college and represented a geographical, racial, and sexual orientation mix. Unlike the “Girls” book she included trans genders here. Although she is old enough to be their mother, she felt that they were generally more forthcoming than the girls. It was also much easier to get parent permission. While parents talk precious little to their daughters about sex, they talk even less about it with their sons.

1. Welcome to Dick School

  • Nearlly all of the boys in the study had egalitarian views about girls, thought they were smart and had platonic female friends. This is fairly new. Their definitions of masculinity, however, are right out of the 1950s. They included emotional detachment, rugged good looks, sexual prowess, athleticism, and the potential for wealth. Showing emotions is what girls do, which is not a good thing for boys. The young men who most internalize these masculine norms are more likely to have: sexually harassed a girl, bullied other boys, been victims of verbal or physical violence, engaged in binge-drinking, caused a car accident, been painfully lonely, been less happy, fewer close friends, been depressed, and been suicidal. They clearly pay a big price for being manly as do those around them.
  • Generally, boys only discuss emotions and feelings with girlfriends, sisters, and their moms. With women doing the emotional labor, boys end up stunted in a state of arrested development. Toxic masculinity deals with emotional suppression, disparagement of the feminine, and bragging about sexual conquest. This is prominent in the “jock culture” and featured in “locker room talk.” As a result, athletes are three times more likely to be accused of sexual misconduct. In order to see things like rape as ok or even hilarious, boys learn to disregard others’ feelings as well as their own.

2. If It Exists, There Is Porn of It

  • The big takeaway here is that today’s children are guinea pigs in a massive porn experiment and assessing porn’s impact isn’t easy as very little research funding is directed its way. All of the boys admitted to watching porn and some admitted to watching a lot. Parents and educators need to understand that porn is where their kids get most if not all of their sex ed. Intentional searches usually start when boys are 12 to 14. This is when most start to masturbate as they watch.
  • Watching porn is likely to cause young people to become sexually active sooner, to have more partners, to have higher rates of pregnancy, to be more sexually aggressive, to view women more negatively, and to engage in more risky and atypical sexual behaviors depicted in porn. It can cause less pleasure from partnered sex, concerns about penis size, and anxiety (erectile disfunction) when engaging in foreplay.
  • Perhaps main-stream media is more to blame as the scripts boys consume from childhood continuously objectify, demean, and are hostile or indifferent towards women. Unlike porn, which the boys know is about as real as professional wrestling, movies and TV shows are much more believable. Women in the business are often harrassed. The same is true for hip-hop music, the most popular music genre in the US who’s most devoted fans are typically white, suburban boys who are unlikely to know any black people.

3. Are You Experienced? Life and Love in a Hookup Culture

  • Hookups presume a lack of connection and commitment although it can be the first step toward a relationship. Physical intimacy is the precursor to emotional intimacy if it happens at all. This is just the opposite of what most people experienced in previous generations. What happens during a hookup is rather vague. It can be anything from making out on the dance floor to intercourse. Some boys never engage in it while others do so every week. It is most common among affluent, white heterosexuals, and predominant in Greek life.
  • Hookups are embedded in a school’s drinking culture. “Pre-game” afternoon drinking even when there isn’t a game leads to an evening of more drinking so when it’s time to hookup, both parties are often “hammered.” Boys are often told to ask permission prior to engaging in sex and to make sure the girl isn’t too drunk to know what she is doing. Hookup culture aligns with the values of contemporary masculinity: conquest over a connection, sex as status-seeking, and partners as disposable. Even for boys, they can be an emotional minefield causing inadequacy, anxiety, insecurity, confusion, disappointment, and embarrassment. There is a lot of peer pressure put on boys to hookup and brag about it. If boys understand this, at least they can make educated choices.
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Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School

Sunday, October 13th, 2013
Brain Rules

Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina tells how what we know about brain science can be used to positively influence our daily lives. This book is vital for educators, policy makers, and anyone who wants to get more out of their gray matter. Click at the bottom of any page to purchase this essential book.

Dr. John Medina

  • John is a developmental molecular biologist focused on the genes involved in human brain development and the genetics of psychiatric disorders. Most of his life has been spent working in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. He teaches at Seattle Pacific University where he is the director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research. He also teaches in the bioengineering department at the University of Washington. His other books include Brain Rules for Baby, The Genetic Inferno, as well as books on Alzheimer’s, depression, and AIDS.

The Brain is an Amazing Thing

  • The human brain is easily the most sophisticated information-transfer system on Earth. As you read this, it sends jolts of electricity crackling through hundreds of miles of microscopic wires in less time than it takes to blink. Brain scientists have a lot to learn, but they rarely have conversations with educators and business people. This book is meant to fill this communications void. Each of the 12 rules here are supported by research that has been replicated, and John focuses on how what we know can be applied to our daily lives.
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Brain-Powered Science Reform Your Science Program

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Reform your science program one activity at a time with Dr. Thomas O’Brien’s three volume Brain-Powered Science: Teaching and Learning with Discrepant Events effort for grades 5-12. It is a cerebral treat for science teachers, science students, and science teacher educators alike. At the heart of each activity is a hands-on discrepant-event, which provides an unexpected outcome. This generates a need-to-know that motivates learners’ to think and often makes science fun and funny. The activities are safe, simple, inexpensive, enjoyable, effective, and relevant. Teachers who use these activities should also find that they serve to open their own doors to learning. In all cases there is a deep connection to recognized national science education standards. (Brain-Powered Science, (© 2010) More Brain-Powered Science, (© 2011), and Even More Brain-Powered Science, (© 2011) are published by the NSTA Press: Arlington, VA.)

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Bull Spotting: Finding Facts in the Age of Misinformation by Loren Collins

Friday, January 6th, 2017

Bullspotting

Bull Spotting: Finding Facts in the Age of Misinformation by Loren Collins will help you spot and avoid lies in a world with more accessible truth and lies than ever. In the age of fake news you can learn how to use the tools of critical thinking to identify the common features and trends of misinformation campaigns. Loren will help you tell the difference between real conspiracies and conspiracy theories, real science from pseudoscience, and history from fantasy.

Loren Collins

  • Loren is and attorney and firm associate with the Law Office of W. Bryant Greene, III, P. C. He is the creator of Barackryphal, a website that debunks the fallacies propounded by birthers regarding the birth and citizenship of President Obama. He has written for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on the topics of misinformation and critical thinking.

1. Baloney Detection

  • Operating in the world efficiently depends on one’s ability to identify crap, also known as misinformation. Today we are constantly bombarded with information, which makes crap detection more import than ever. We tend to rely on common sense, but recall that there was a time when common sense told our ancestors that the world was flat. It can be helpful, but we need to look to science to uncover the truth.
  • Most of us are not conditioned to distinguish between good and bad sources. We favor information from sources we like and visa versa. We accept information that supports our beliefs, and doubt information that doesn’t. This is know as confirmation bias. Other biases include having our thinking impacted by how something is framed, and putting more weight on recent information.
  • People evolved to spot patterns even when they don’t exist and to create stories, myths, to explain the patterns. The ancient Greeks, for example, created different Gods to explain how the world worked.
  • A common feature of creative misinformation is the reliance of anomalies. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t produce a cohesive alternative theory. The idea is that if you can undermine one detail of the consensus view you have disproved it. If you see this in action, it tends to be a good means of spotting misinformation. Occam’s razor tells us that the explanation that makes the fewest assumptions is most likely to be the correct one.

2. Denialism

  • Denialism concerns the rejection of truth accepted by experts. In some cases popular opinion denies scientific facts. For example, a 2010 poll showed that 40% of Americans believe humankind was created in our present form less than ten thousand years ago. The primary tactic is to look for anomalies that can poke holes in established theories. Deniers do not advance a cohesive alternative theory that can be tested.
  • When confronted with evidence, deniers will often say it is forged or fake. When evidence can’t be denied they may say that it means something else like the Nazi gas chambers were not used for mass killings. Fake experts are also associated with deniers. While they may have college degrees, the degrees are usually in unrelated fields. Subjective experiences and anecdotes are often treated as solid evidence.
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Class Rank Weighs Down True Learning by Thomas R. Guskey

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Class Rank Weighs Down True Learning by Thomas R. Guskey – Phi Delta Kappan, March 2014, V95 N6, pp. 15-19. This is my summary of this fine article, which makes the point that teaching and grading schemes that work to select the most talented students often fail to benefit all students and to notice promising students. This may cause you to rethink what your high school is doing regarding this matter. Here is the link to the abstract. You will probably need a subscription if you want to view the full article, or you could hit your nearest college library.

Thomas R Guskey, PhD

  • Thomas is a professor of educational psychology at the University of Kentucky. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago, and began his career in education as a middle school teacher. He served as an administrator in Chicago Public Schools, and was the first Director of the Center for the Improvement of Teaching and Learning, a national educational research center. He is the author/editor of 18 books and over 200 articles published in prominent research journals as well as Educational Leadership, Phi Delta Kappan, and School Administrator. You can find him on Twitter @tguskey or email him at guskey@uky.edu
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Code Breaker: Increase Creativity, Remix Assessment, and Develop a Class of Coder Ninjas! by Brian Aspinall

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018
Code Breaker

Code Breaker: Increase Creativity, Remix Assessment, and Develop a Class of Coder Ninjas! by Brian Aspinall shares his experiences and those of some colleagues in the process of teaching coding from kindergarten to high school. It deals with computational thinking which is a fundamental skill at the heart of engineering and mathematics. It includes coding and much more, and can even happen without technology. Make sure your school has a few copies.

Preface

  • We live in an era of access as answers to knowledge-based questions can be quickly retrieved. As for coding, we have been teaching that in many forms since the 1960s. Like many, Brian is a self-taught coder. He offers ten reasons for teaching coding. They include building self-confidence, allowing students to create, self-expression, teaching storytelling, opportunities for risk-taking, reinforcing math principles, and teaching problem-solving. It is required for many future jobs, developing teamwork, and helping humanity.

1. The Clarity of Poop

2. A Wing and a Papert

  • Here we get some learning theory. Assimilation happens when you incorporate new things into your current understanding. Accommodation happens when you learn new things and have to change what you currently understand. People learn best when they are involved in making or constructing things in the real world. To do this you need some control over your own learning. Learning should be concrete and computers are a good way to teach this. Computational thinking is a fundamental skill and it is at the heart of engineering and mathematics.
  • Coding Rock, Paper, Scissors to Teach Probability
  • Indigenous Trail: Trees and Coding a Micro:Bit Compass
  • What Is Computational Thinking? Computational Thinking can take on a variety of forms.
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