Archive for the ‘Leadership Books’ Category

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves (the book can be found here)

Monday, June 8th, 2020
Emotional Intelligence 2.0

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves (the book can be found succinctly explains how to deal with emotions creatively and how to employ your intelligence in a beneficial way. There is strong evidence that EQ can be improved with effort and this book can direct that. Higher EQ leads to success on the job and at home so this is a book that everyone can use to forge a better life.

1. The Journey

  • All information from your senses has to pass through the emotional part of your brain (the limbic system) before it gets to the rational or thinking part of your brain (the frontal cortex). It’s the communication between your emotional and rational brains that is the physical source of emotional intelligence or EQ. It is emotional intelligence that explains why people with high IQs don’t consistently outperform people with average IQs.
  • The purpose of this book is to help you increase your EQ. You start by taking the Emotional Intelligence Apprasal online. To see your scores you will need the code at the end of the book, which is only good for one person. This appraisal provides a baseline against which you can judge your improvement. This is a new feature in version 2.0. You can also retake the test after you finish the book to see how much you have learned.

2. The Big Picture

  • Emotional awareness and understanding are not taught in school, but self-knowledge and emotional mastery are required to make good decisions on the job and in life. We have many words to describe our feelings yet all emotions are derivations of five core feelings: happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and shame. Here we find twenty different words to describe each. When emotions are intense they can highjack your rational thinking and cause you to react reflexively. Your reaction to these trigger events is shaped by your personal history. Enhanced EQ can help you recognize triggers and let you respond in a rational manner.
  • We all possess the qualities of personality, EQ, and IQ. Of the three, EQ is the one most amenable to improvement. It is also the foundation of a host of critical skills like time management, decision-making, and communications. It is the strongest driver of leadership and personal excellence. It is highly correlated with high-performance and salary regardless of the job. The rest of the book will help you improve your EQ.

3. What Emotional Intelligence Looks Like: Understanding the Four Skills

  • The four EQ skills come in two pairs known as personal competencies and social competencies. The first includes self-awareness and self-management. This is where you stay aware of your emotions and manage the resulting behavior and tendencies. Social competencies include social awareness and relationship management. This is where you work to understand other people’s mood, behavior, and motives. Emotions always have a purpose as they shape your reactions to the world around you.
  • Self-awareness is a foundational skill; when you have it the other skills will be easier to use. Self-management is dependent on your self-awareness as it gives you information that you can act on rationally rather than reflexively. Social awareness is also foundational as you need to pick up on the emotions of others so you can better manage your relationships. You need to listen well rather than thinking about what you are going to say next when another person stops talking. Relationships require you to understand others and are based on how you treat them over time. This chapter also contains positive and negative examples of all four skills.
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Evolving Learner: Shifting from Professional Development to Professional Learning From Kids, Peers, and the World by Lainie Rowell, Kristy Andre, and Lauren Steinmann

Monday, August 31st, 2020
Evolving Learner

Evolving Learner: Shifting from Professional Development to Professional Learning From Kids, Peers, and the World (©2020) by Lainie Rowell, Kristy Andre, and Lauren Steinmann focuses on how teachers need to learn from their students, their peers, and the world at large. They also need to be allowed to have a voice and choice when it comes to their professional learning rather than be exposed to old school one-size-fits-all professional development.


  • The main idea is to move from traditional one-size-fits-all seat time professional development to innovative learner-driven personalized deliverables. An organization called Learning Forward developed Standards for Professional Learning and this book is a practitioner’s guide to mastering them. As you learn there are things that you have to unlearn, which is difficult. You also have to change your role from expert to learner and to not fear failure. Andragogy deals with the methods or techniques used to teach adults. 1. Adults should be involved in the planning and evaluation of their instruction. 2. Experience, which includes mistakes, provides the basis for learning activities. 3. Subjects should have immediate relevance and impact on their job or personal life. 4. Adult learning should be problem-centered rather than content-oriented.
  • While there are many cycles of inquiry with similarities and differences, the authors decided to create their own. Their essential pieces are Focus, Learn, Refine, and Reflect. This cycle is revisited throughout the book. This book is about relationships for learning through a cycle of inquiry. Teachers who have experienced online and blended learning have higher aspirations for leveraging technology. With technology, it is much easier to differentiate learning. Social-emotional learning should also be integrated rather than separated from any learning.

1. Learning from Kids: Honor the Learner

  • We need to shift from teacher-driven to learner-driven and by learner, we mean kids and adults. While students are engaged in the learning cycle of focus, learn, refine, and reflect based on content, teachers are engaged in this same cycle regarding their practice. Students should be seen as clientele. (Doug: I prefer customers.) Teachers need to respect each student’s ideas, experiences, and perspectives in order to serve them better. In other words, they need to constantly learn from the students.

Leveraging the Most Abundant Resource in Our Schools

  • Students are the most underutilized resource in a classroom. They are critical to personalized learning for teachers. To learn from kids probably requires a change in mindset for most teachers. One survey of middle school students that asked “how do you feel in school each day” gave the top three responses as tired, bored, and stressed. The authors think that this may be because they don’t feel seen and heard. Making learning truly reciprocal may solve this problem. There an extended response here from Adora Svitak. She gave a TED Talk at the age of twelve on the topic of what adults can learn from kids that now has over five million views The response here was given when she was twenty.

What Are They Thinking? Making THinking Transparent to Tailor Instruction and Promote Teacher Inquiry

  • Thanks to tech tools it’s possible for a teacher to ask a question and see everyone’s answer. This can greatly aid the ability to do formative assessments. Without such tools, you are likely to get the same kids answering all of the questions. When using these tools be sure to put lesson design first and not the tool. This approach will also give students more processing time as it lets the teacher assess prior knowledge.
  • As students go through the grades they ask fewer questions. One way to fight this is to use the 5E’s approach. Here we start with Engaging students by asking an open-ended question. You can use a Word Cloud tool to create an illustration that students can use to Explore the topic further. The Explain part of the lesson can address unanswered questions. Further Elaboration comes next followed by Evaluation. Since learning is messy don’t be surprised if you move back and forth between these steps.
  • Next the focus in on students formulating questions. First, the teacher comes up with a question focus contained in the curriculum. Students then independently produce questions without initial judgment of a question’s quality. They prioritize closed-ended and open-ended questions, plan the next steps, and reflect. Questions can even be used as part of assessments as creating questions is a higher-level thinking activity than answering them. The nature of the questions can help the teacher spot misunderstandings and provide opportunities to improve instruction. Peer instruction can also help as the teaching peer is dealing with something recently met. By circulating during this process teachers can learn new ways to explain concepts. You can even have students take tests in pairs after they take them as individuals and compare scores.

Ownership of Learning for All: Shifting From Students Who Consume Content to Learners Who Create Content

  • Here we encounter the concepts of miinimally invasive education (MME) and self-organized learning environments (SOLEs). They are based on the work of Sugata Mitra who set up computer kiosks in poor neighborhoods starting in New Delhi, India. When he returned he was amazed at what the children had taught themselves with no help. Certainly these children owned their learning. We then hear about High Tech High, a charter school in San Diego, CA that accepts students via a lottery. They operate on the principles of equity, personalization, authentic work, and collaborative design. The only tech-based question they ask prospective teachers is “Are you willing to learn from your students?”
  • One author tells a story of how she took over a kindergarten class and gave each student a computer tablet. She gave them four minutes to figure out the features of the drawing app and then teach them to the rest of the class. Then they had to show a number using manipulatives, take a picture of it, bring the picture into the drawing app, and annotate it. The vast majority had no trouble and those that did watched a peer and completed the task. Their teacher was amazed. This activity leveraged the learners in the room and produced artifacts that could be used to analyze the progress of each student. Students enjoyed the challenge, the chance to be creative, learning something new, and collaborating as they overcame their fear. Note that students here had voice and choice.
  • Now we look at a number of specific learner-driven practices. Included are project-based learning, competency-based learning also known as mastery or performance-based learning, blended learning, and universal design for learning. There is an interview with Eric Marcos, a math teacher from Santa Monica, CA who’s website is MathTrain.Tv. He started making video tutorials for his students who soon wanted to make their own. In a way, they put him out of business. Among the many benefits are other family members learning math at home from student-generated tutorials.
  • The rest of the chapter focuses on social-emotional learning (SEL) with short interviews of two teachers who use InspirED to help their students with this important learning. In the end, there are resources that help you internalize the key concepts as well as resources you can read, watch, listen to, and explore.
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Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life by William Deresiewicz

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life by William Deresiewicz uses abundant qualitative research along with his own experience to paint a picture of a dysfunctional system and offer suggestions for how to fix it. There is serious advice for students and parents so they can avoid the traps the system offers. The system does a disservice to elite students who are almost uniformly wealthy as it screens out children from lower classes. While the rich have always had educational advantages, the disparity is worse than ever. Click the icon at the bottom of any page to purchase this thought provoking book for yourself and any policy makers, parents, and students you know.

William Deresiewicz

  • William was a professor at Yale until 2008. He is the author of the landmark essays The Disadvantages of an Elite Education, and Solitude and Leadership, and the book A Jane Austin Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter. He is a frequent speaker on campuses around the country, a contributing writer for The Nation, and a contributing editor for The New Republic and The American Scholar.


  • William believes that our elite universities have produced students who are smart, talented, and driven, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose. They are trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they do, but with no idea why they are doing it. His real critique in the book is aimed at the adults who’ve made them who they are. He also aims to help students rescue themselves from the system. Even though it’s aimed a college students, there are good lessons here for high school students, their parents, and educators everywhere.

1. The Students

  • The students in this book appear to be the winners of the race that adults have made of childhood. While they appear healthy, beneath the surface we often find toxic levels of fear, anxiety, and depression. Surveys indicate that emotional well-being has fallen to its lowest level in the 25-year history of the study with half reporting feelings of hopelessness, and a third saying that depression has made it difficult to function. There is also an increase in the use of antidepressants, antianxietals, and stimulants like Adderall.
  • Starting in grade school they are constantly jumping through hoops that include school work, athletics, music, and other activities that leaves them no time and no tools to figure out what they want out of life. Once they get into a selective school, they often have no idea why they are there. They have learned how to be a student, but not how to use their minds. Most are good at coloring inside the lines with little or no passion about ideas. There life is all about the accumulation of gold starts, and they can’t imagine doing something that can’t be put on a resume. Rather than learning as much as possible, they seek to do as little as possible as long as they get A’s. Most students dress, look, and act the same so what passes for diversity looks more like 32 flavors of vanilla. The selection process produces students who have only experienced success, but this hides the fact they live with a constant fear of failure. They are risk adverse and are increasingly seeking fewer and fewer different majors.
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Feel-Bad Education: And Other Contrarian Essays on Children and Schooling by Alfie Kohn

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
Feel-Bad Education

Feel-Bad Education: And Other Contrarian Essays on Children and Schooling by Alfie Kohn (Beacon Press: Boston, MY ©2011) is his twelfth book where he argues that our schools are in the grip of a “cult of rigor” where harder is confused with better. Joy and meaningful learning are at risk. In nineteen recently published well-researched essays, Kohn invites us to think beyond conventional wisdom. He questions much of what schools reflexively do and makes the reader understand why many current reform efforts are misguided. If you believe that NCLB and Race to the Top efforts make sense, you need to read this book. It will give parents and educators alike a fresh perspective they can use to shake the system for the better. Click the button below to purchase from Amazon.

”Well, Duh”: Obvious Truths We Shouldn’t Ignore

  • If we agree on something, why do schools function in a contrary manner? Kohn gives us more than a dozen. If you have more, let him know. 1) We require students to memorize material they soon forget. You are more likely to retain the knowledge you acquire pursuing a project than preparing for a test. Professional development also often involves the worst passive practices. 2) Knowing facts doesn’t make you smart and fact-oriented learning may interfere with your becoming smart. 3) If kids have different abilities, why to we teach them all the same? Lock-step curriculum and uniformity are valued by many leaders. 4) Students are more likely to learn if they are interested. Education isn’t like bad-tasting medicine. If we were turned off by an educational approach, perhaps we shouldn’t use it. 5) Students are more likely to be interested if they have some say.

More Duhs

  • 6) Just because something raises test scores doesn’t mean it should be done. Also, the more time you spend preparing for a test, the less meaningful the results will be. 7) Students are more likely to succeed if they feel known and cared about. They also need to be healthy and well-feed. 8) We want children to develop in many ways, not just academically. 9) Harder work isn’t necessarily better. It is likely to be frustrating. Pressure will also cause students to seek easier tasks. 10) Kids aren’t short adults. We have seen an increase of developmentally inappropriate instruction with more sit-still-and-listen for younger children. 11) Policies that benefit large corporations aren’t necessarily good for children. 12) It’s substance not labels that matter. If your PLC focuses on cramming for tests, what good is it?

Progressive Education: Hard to Beat-Hard to Find

  • While progressive education has many definitions, Kohn notes that it usually features hands-on learning, multiage classrooms, mentor-apprentice relationships, attention to the whole child, learning in a caring community, and an organization that features problems and projects rather than lists of facts and separate disciplines. Learning is active and the flexible curriculum considers the children’s interests. Kohn sites research that shows progressive education as more productive and efficient. Unfortunately, progressive education is also rare. It is harder to do and more demanding on the teachers. Teachers must give up total control and be comfortable with uncertainty. The pressure of NCLB testing is also a barrier even though there is no evidence that it works.

Challenging Students to Challenge

  • In this chapter Kohn touts the idea of teaching by doing and encouraging students to critically challenge ideas they encounter. Teachers should let students watch them write so they can see the process in action. Critical thinking helps students spot fallacies and develop a set of analytical thinking skills. Teachers, however, are more likely to focus on compliant behavior rather than raising rebels who can disagree as long at they have rational. How many kids would need treatment if excessive compliance was considered a disorder? Students need to also challenge their own beliefs so they can reorganize their thinking in light of new evidence. This is Constructivism 101. Making students feel comfortable challenging the status quo requires the right classroom culture. Unfortunately, many professors who espouse this approach use traditional teaching methods themselves.
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Finnish Lessons – What We Can Learn

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland by Pasi Sahlberg (© 2010, Teachers College Press: New York, NY) is the story of Finland’s extraordinary reforms and one that should inform policymakers and educators around the world, most of whom are on the wrong track. Sahlberg has lived and studied these reforms for decades and is a clever and engaging story teller. Click below to purchase this book today, and share with your colleagues.

Pasi Sahlberg, PhD

  • Pasi is Director General of the Center for International Mobility and Cooperation at the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture (CIMO) and a member of the board of directors of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). For the last two decades has analyzed education reforms and worked with education leaders around the world. He trains teachers and leaders as an adjunct professor at the University of Helsinki and the University of Oulu in Finland.

Forward by Andy Hargreaves

  • Over the last 25 years the performance of American schools has steadily declined relative to international benchmarks. Meanwhile, reformers keep doing the same things. Force, pressure, shame, top-down intervention, competition, standardization, tests of dubious validity, easier passage into teaching, closure of failing schools, firing teachers and principals, and fresh starts with young teachers in new schools. Given this, there is no reason to expect Obama’s Race to the Top to succeed.
  • Hargreaves warns us not to dismiss Finland’s success by using the excuse that we aren’t like Finland. He notes that in addition to being the leading authority on Finnish education, Sahlberg is also a world-ranking scholar with a world view developed by working at the World Bank and schools from many countries. It might be hard for some Americans to admit that someone else does education better, but they would all be wise to seriously consider the possibility.
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Fixing Special Education: 12 Steps to Transform a Broken System by Miriam Kurtzig Freedman

Monday, October 19th, 2015

Fixing Special Education: 12 Steps to Transform a Broken System by Miriam Kurtzig Freedman ©2009 should be included in all teacher preparation programs and placed in the hands of policy makers who can address Miriam’s 12 transformative steps. It can also serve as an excellent resource for parents. Be sure to click at the bottom of any page to get copies. Also see my Ed Week post Why Does Special Education Have to be Special?

Miriam Kurtzig Freedman

  • Miriam is an attorney and former teacher who works with people who want better schools. As an immigrant to America at elementary-school-age, she was empowered by public schools and works to help educators teach all children. She works for the Boston firm of Stoneman, Chandler, & Miller where she gives lively and practical presentations, training, and consultations. She co-founded Special Education Day, authored eight books, has written for many national publications.


  • Miriam starts with a mention of the 1975 Individual’s with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and how it forced schools to offer appropriate education for all students with disabilities (SWD). As a result, all students with disabilities have access to education. She also notes that it has spawned a system that is too often focused on legal procedures rather than educational outcomes. It has become dysfunctional, producing a huge bureaucracy and warring stakeholders. The amount of litigation and fear of litigation is huge, which points to a system that is clearly broken. This book will not only help you understand this field better, it will also suggest 12 necessary steps for systemic reform. They aren’t all easy, but they are necessary. The key vision is to free schools from the bureaucratic stranglehold and fear of litigation so that we can get back to focusing on teaching and learning.

The Good News

  • Miriam highlights the idea that thanks to IDEA, schools can no longer turn students away just because they have high needs. We now have an inclusive approach and believe that all children can learn. Now nearly 14% of students in the US receive special education services. About 90% of the children served are not considered severely disabled, and it is this group that is the focus of this book.
  • The rates of growth in the cost and the number of SWD have outgrown the rates for regular education. The process of identification and the creation of individual education plans (IEPs) is slow and expensive and has become ever more complex and out of sync with reality. Since these services are required by law, they are paid for first and what’s left is used for everything else. As special education has expanded, so have unintended consequences as we deal with excesses of the civil rights movement. Even President Ford realized at the time of the law’s passing that it was promising more than it could deliver, and promised a ton of administrative paperwork. Now Miriam urges us to fix the system.
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For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood…and the Rest of Y’all Too by Christopher Emdin

Monday, September 21st, 2020

For White Folks

This is my most read book summary and I think it is timely for our current environment. Enjoy and be sure to get the book.

For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood…and the Rest of Y’all Too by Christopher Emdin explains how teachers from different cultures can connect and foster success when teaching black students in poor urban schools. While aimed at black cultures found in the inner city, the advice here applies to anyone teaching students from a cultural background that is not their own. In addition to the targeted audience, I strongly recommend this book to all teachers and their administrative leaders. Leaders of teacher preparation programs should also seriously consider this book.


  • Chris compares the urban poor black students to indigenous people like native Americans, who have suffered from the impact of colonization. He invented the term neoindigenous to describe his target population. The key idea in the book is how do we help white teachers better understand the culture of the black students they teach rather than spending their time trying to take their culture away from them. Strong discipline seems oppressive to many students and gives them the feeling that school is not for them. Harsh treatment is unlikely to produce academic success.
  • The behavior students bring can make white teachers uncomfortable unless they are prepared for what they will face. They should become familiar with student culture including clothing, music, and speech. Viewing hip-hop as vulgar, for example, is a good way to make sure a teacher fails to connect. Students see a curriculum that is not connected to their culture and school rules that seek to erase that culture.

1. Camaraderie: Reality and the Neoindigenous

  • Teachers in urban schools are usually from different neighborhoods and classes and don’t look much like their students. Unfortunately, they don’t see this as an impediment when it comes to engaging students. They can come in to save the students, which can make student experiences, emotions, and communities invisible. Teachers need to visit the community where students live and leaders need to facilitate visits. These students are often traumatized so it’s vital to get an idea of the nature of the traumas they face.
  • Teachers can’t expect students to leave their experiences and emotions at the door. Even poverty comes with complexity. While you don’t have to use student vocabulary, it is important to know it. Teachers need to see students as individuals and meet them on their own cultural and emotional turf.

2. Courage: Teach Without Fear

  • Watch out for code words like “these kids” and “those kids.” Black youth see white teachers as enforcing rules that are unrelated to teaching and learning. They often respond negatively to structures that teachers value at the expense of their academic success. Chris tells of his days as a student and rookie teacher when he was urged to take emotion from learning and teaching. This mantra served to mask fears.
  • Too often white teachers become test-prep machines. Even teachers with good stories are apt not to tell them for fear of getting too personal. They also may avoid hands-on activities for fear of what students might do. Even Chris had an initial fear of students, which kept him from moving beyond fear and getting to know them.
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From Teacher to Leader: Finding Your Way as a First-Time Leader—Without Losing Your Mind by Starr Sackstein

Monday, February 11th, 2019
Teacher to Leader

From Teacher to Leader: Finding Your Way as a First-Time Leader—Without Losing Your Mind by Starr Sackstein recounts her first year as an administrator. This story of a remarkably gifted teacher’s journey into administration after her first year is a great read. Starr’s reflections, research efforts, and writing skills have resulted in a valuable resource for teachers considering a jump to administration and experienced administrators alike. She lives up to her desire of becoming the kind of leader she would want to have. As an educator since 1969 and an administrator for 30 years, I find her advice to be spot on. Make sure that you and your professional development library has a copy.


  • The forward by Dan Rehman, Superintendent West Hempstead Union Free School District tells the story of how Starr was hired as the district’s director of Humanities. While she clearly had the necessary qualities, she lacked the necessary certification, which Starr and the district were finally able to work around. Dan paints her as enthusiastic, goal focused, persistent, self-aware, creative, innovative, willing to take risks, and reflective. What else could you ask for in a leader?
  • While she loved her nine years teaching journalism in New York City, (16 years total) she struggled with boredom and dissatisfaction with administrative decisions, and began experimenting with grading less and helping students began a flurry of reflection and problem-solving. She questioned what learning should look like. She became an administrator to become a mentor for new teachers. This book tells the story of her first year, mistakes and all.
  • Each chapter also ends with some valuable Daily Reflections for Change that you can do.

1. To Leave or Not to Leave

  • As a teacher, there is no single right way to know when to leave. Possible reasons are boredom or complacency with your work, urge to share your expertise with others, or someone suggesting that you make the move. (Doug: They also make more money.) Once you start to think about it the more you need to look for administrative programs. Ideally, you find one where you can take a few courses as a non-matriculated student to get your feet wet. Interview working administrators to get a better idea of what the job entails. Read some of the books Starr suggests and look for Twitter chats on leadership.
  • Thirteen years into teaching Starr was able to take on a “hybrid” role as part teacher and part teacher coach. She felt that still doing some teaching gave her more credibility with the people she coached as she was still doing the things that she was trying to get them to do. Teachers could visit her classroom and she could still continue to try new things.
  • Before you start looking for jobs create a description for your ideal job. Starr provides one here based on her desires and skills. Once you have your goals spelled out you can better articulate them in interviews. While no two people take the same path to administration, Starr’s path covers the basics that all teachers need to consider. She suggests that you are not there to fix teachers but to help them further develop the skills they already possess. Stay humble, be present, listen, collaborate, and be patient.

2. Teacher Leadership as a Precursor to School Leadership

  • Consider the job description and ask a lot of questions about the school culture and needs to make sure the job is a good fit. Before transitioning grow your content or pedagogical expertise and serve on committees. Apply to present at local, regional, or national conferences on topics important to you. Adult learners are different from students. How so? Nothing is worse than discounting ideas elicited from others. It’s a surefire way to make your team resent you.

3. The Ache of the Shift

  • Starr became very aware of the void that had been created inside by not being in the classroom. She worked to rebrand her decision as an extension of her teaching career and not as a replacement for it. She spends time in classrooms. Plans with teachers and offers to co-teach when it is appropriate. As a new team leader, you will definitely experience isolation. For the most part, it will continue because you are no longer part of us. Now you are one of them. Leadership doesn’t have to be the dark side. It can be light, optimistic, and supportive, but it definitely takes time to get your team to believe you are one of them. To get feedback Starr uses anonymous Google forms. Be ready with “Plan B” in the event your day changes unexpectedly. Starr also offers advice on attire here. Learning—in the classroom and in life—happens moments forced her to figure things out. You are going to have to do a lot of learning so it helps if you enjoy learning. Exhibit the behaviors you’d like to see.
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Future Driven: Will Your Students Thrive In An Unpredictable World? by David Geurin

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

Future Driven

Future Driven: Will Your Students Thrive In An Unpredictable World? by David Geurin encourages teachers to look to the future as they design lessons to excite their students. To make students future ready you need lessons connected with reality, projects, collaboration, and tolerance for risk. Although we can’t predict the future, we need to adopt a futurist vision and be adaptable and mentor adaptable learners. After you read this fine book be sure to get a copy into the hands of any educational leaders you know.

1. Shaping the Future

  • Too many classrooms don’t look or function much differently than they did decades ago. Nonetheless, educators need to look forward as they prepare their students for an uncertain future. For most of us, there were parts of our education that were timeless. There were also probably too many that were needlessly passive. The idea that we should help students find and explore their passions is relatively new.
  • One thing that is apparent is that we need to create adaptable learners as adaptable learners will own the future. The key is to develop skills that are transferable to unknown situations rather than reducing a student’s achievement to a few numbers. The need to adapt is not new. People with adaptive ability have been more successful in the past and this skill is more important as change accelerates.

2. The Unexpected

  • Everyone encounters the unexpected in life. Rising to unexpected challenges is essential to success. Students should know this. We can expect, however, millions of jobs to be replaced by automation. We can also expect new jobs related to technology. Knowing this should help educators be more forward-thinking and future driven. It’s also a safe bet that hard work will still have great value in the future as it has in the past.
  • To think like a futurist teachers should 1) Be willing to challenge how they are doing things now 2) Read the news with an eye to the future 3) Reflect on ways to help students be adaptable 4) Share ideas with students and colleagues about what the future may demand 5) Embrace the future even when it’s difficult.

3. What If Schools Were More Like Google or Starbucks?

  • Here David provides the names of successful companies who are very innovative along with companies that have failed for failing to innovate. Unfortunately, many schools are happy with traditional teaching methods where there is a lack of student input and collaboration and a focus on test prep. Such schools will not thrive in the future. Some schools are looking to innovative companies that turn employees loose to innovate and tailor products and services to individual needs.
  • Schools need to personalize instruction, which is easier to do if every student has a laptop. Student voices need to be heard and students need to have some choice in regard to what they study. The students should function like a think tank, which will promoter ownership. Classrooms should be flexible (including standing desks) so that furniture can be rearranged to allow for various sized student collaboration groups. Students should also have a say in classroom decoration and design. Innovative companies want employees with the ability to learn and who know when to lead and stand back. School libraries should feel like Starbucks.

4. Connect, Grow, Serve

  • Like many other authors in the modern education field, David feels that student relationships are the most important thing that educators should work on. He tells how what he has done as a principal to get to better know more of his students. Strong relationships are the foundation of one’s ability to lead and influence. For this reason, schools must teach and model interpersonal skills. Teachers need to be aware that many of their students will suffer physical and emotional problems outside of school and be prepared to offer empathy.
  • The next big idea is to make sure that you take care of your own physical and emotional needs so you will be fit enough to help others. Ideas for connecting include attending student extracurricular activities and sending positive handwritten notes to students and parents. David even devotes part of a faculty meeting for note writing.
  • David thinks that schools put too much emphasis on student weakness and remediation and not enough focussing on student strengths. The chapter ends with ten things you should say more often like I believe in you, I’m here to help, and I’m listening.
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Get It Done: The 21-day Mind Hack System to Double Your Productivity and Finish What You Start by Michael Mackintosh

Monday, December 24th, 2018
Get It Done
Get It Done: The 21-day Mind Hack System to Double Your Productivity and Finish What You Start by Michael Mackintosh offers sound advice for people prone to procrastination and who suffer from the endless disruptions that exist in our hi-tech world. If this sounds like you be sure to get a copy along with one for your school’s professional development library.


  • This book is aimed at creative entrepreneurs but I believe that educational leaders can learn from it as well. It makes very big promises, but depending on where you are it should help you focus on what’s important, increase your productivity, and finish your most important projects. It also reminds us all to build in time for rest, relaxation, and celebrating our accomplishments.

Part I – 11 Essential Mind Hacks to Make Things Happen

  • 1. The Prolonged Pain or the Short-Lived Pain: If you continue doing things that are inefficient and less effective you are inviting long-term pain. Change in the near term can be painful too, but if it leads to success you won’t have to deal with it in the long-term.
  • 2. The Defining Choice: Acting differently and thinking differently is a choice. Keep in mind it is the only way you are likely to get different results.
  • 3. The 80/20 Rule: This rule states that 80% of your input or effort leads to 20% of your outputs or results. Therefore, the opposite has to be true that 20% of your effort leads to 80% of your results. The trick is to identify the activities that produce 20% of your output and either do them less or do them when you are not so sharp.
  • 4. Good is Good Enough: The old saying “the perfect is the enemy of the good” applies here. It is important sometimes to stop when you have reached the good enough point in a job unless it’s a job that has to be perfect like a computer program.
  • 5. The Delusion of Time Management: The idea here is that you only have NOW in terms of doing something. Even if you are thinking about the future you are doing it NOW. Trying to micromanage your schedule is not likely to lead to great productivity. Rather than thinking about managing time, think about managing your thoughts, words, actions, energy, and focus. As you move through the day ask if what you are doing is moving directly toward your goals. Make your most important work a priority. Organize your day to make the most of your energy. If you are a morning person like me, save the most important work for the morning. (Doug: Yes, I’m writing this in the morning.) Recognize when you are a tired, hungry, or distracted and do what it takes to recharge. It’s not how much time you put into something, it’s how much high-quality energy you invest.
  • 6. The Resistance: You can’t do something new, significant, and meaningful without resistance so get ready for it. Some can come from your lower self that is comfortable with the status quo. Be alert and look for it within and without so you can take it on.
  • 7. Fears and Hallucinations: Fears can be real or irrational. They can be healthy and necessary for success. They can also arise when it’s not required. Unconscious fears include the unknown, failure, and not being good enough. Once you identify them you can accept that they only exist in your mind. This should help prevent the destructive worry that come with them.
  • 8. Focus: You don’t want to try to make all of your dreams come true at the same time. The idea here is to bring one idea to completion before you begin another one. Fear could be part of the problem for people who try to do too many things at once.
  • 9. How to Overcome Self-Doubt: This can sabotage you before you begin. Michael suggests that you focus on the people who will be helped if you complete what you are doing and realize that self-doubt, like most fears, is also irrational.
  • 10. Do It Now: Everything happens in the now, and now won’t last forever. This should help you get going and avoid procrastination.
  • 11. Do Less Work to Get More Done: You don’t do your best work when you work too hard. You are more likely to make mistakes and quality is likely to go downhill. Be sure to build rest and recharge into your game plan. Sleeping on a problem or just taking a walk can help you solve it. You are also more likely to screw up your family life and other important relationships. You still have to work hard, but working too hard can even make your sick.
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