The 2015-2016 school year begins for me on July 27th. (How did the end of July get here so quickly?) While I’m excited about the new year, I’m staring at my “to be read” pile wondering where the time has gone. Like most educators, I’m able to make a lot of progress in the summer, but I know I’m not alone in thinking that there must have been something I missed or something I just didn’t have time to get to.
I wrote several posts at the end of May on “Books Worth Reading” and thought now would be a good time to offer a reminder of some of the books that you could still work in if, like me, your summer is about to come to a close.
First up is What Connected Leaders Do Differently. Todd Whitaker, Jeff Zoul, and Jimmy Casas collaborated to create a thorough yet streamlined text that explores the role of connected educators in today’s educational environment. Whether you are looking to get connected or are already swimming in the deep end, this book will challenge you to engage in new ways. At 172 pages, this title is one to start today if you’re going to spend the time you need with it before school begins.
School Culture Rewired by Steve Gruenert and Todd Whitaker is required reading for anyone looking to make significant change in the prevailing attitudes on a school campus. This text will help you walk through the steps required to initiate an influential change on campus without bogging down into the minuscule details and minutiae that can seem to slow the pace of other texts. School Culture Rewired comes in at 170 pages.
Telling your school’s story can’t be undervalued, and Tony Sinanis and Joe Sanfelippo are two of the best at crafting a meaningful, authentic campus story. The Power of Branding is part of the Corwin Connected Educators Series (which I can’t recommend highly enough), and at just 72 pages, you’re not going to get bogged down in fluff. You will have to deal with this though: Each page has something meaningful for you to consider, so don’t plan on blowing through this just because it’s half the length of the first two.
Jim Knight’s Focus on Teaching offers a wealth of strategies for using video in the classroom. If you’re creating video in the classroom, you should read this. If you’re flipping your class, you should read this. If you’re an administrator looking to use video for coaching, you should read this. His highly readable text (which is just 184 pages in length) will benefit you now and for years to come.
A.J. Juliani’s most recent publication, Learning by Choice, is required reading for anyone looking to include more student choice in the classroom. (And, let’s be honest, who couldn’t benefit from hearing more about choice in the classroom, right?) This has heavily influenced my beliefs about choice in professional development as well. I wish I had read it while in the classroom. At 100 pages, you can easily complete your first read of Learning By Choice in the next week, but beware, there is so much that will have you thinking, “I need to write that down” as you read it may go slower than you think.
If you have a little more time before you’re back to school, I’m excited about a new book by Adam Sáenz and Jeremy Dew titled Four Ways to Connect (and Set Boundaries) with Colleagues, Students, and Parents. Relational dynamics in organizations (and especially in schools) are quite complicated, and I’m excited to be supported and challenged through their forthcoming text. The book should be on my doorstep on Tuesday (July 22nd), and I’m hopeful it will be as good as I expect!
It’s worth mentioning that each of these books deserves more than a week of time invested in it; regardless of the length, there’s plenty of depth in each of them to explore them more as time allows. I also think that they’re each books that are worth rereading, so if your first read is a quick one, don’t expect it to be your last. As the next school year approaches, my hope is that these books will jump start you back into the year with fresh inspiration and new ideas.
If you have a suggestion that others might like, recommend it with a comment!