December is nearly upon us, and as we work through the last few weeks of the semester in what can often feel like a sprint to the finish, I think it’s important for us to remember that if we expect our students to continue their learning, it only makes sense that we should lead in that way as well.
That’s easier said than done (for both students and for educators), but it’s a worthwhile goal nonetheless.
Goals like this don’t just happen, though. If we want to look back on the next three weeks and be able to say we thrived during this time rather than that we simply survived the time between our breaks, we need a plan.
Reading is something that has really helped me slow down when the pace of life feels too fast. Finding that time away, that white space as I’ve come to call it after a series of especially impactful #leadupchat conversations over the past few weeks (Here’s the LINK to the storify from the chat that kicked that conversation if you’re interested.)
We can find white space to grow through what we read.
That’s not a revolutionary idea, but it’s one that we’ll let busy schedules push to the margins until we forget we ever thought it. Below is a list of 9 titles of varying lengths that might help you find that book that will push you to continue your learning over the next few weeks.
9 Titles to Push Your Thinking (separated by length)
200-250 PAGES (to be read over a few weeks)
The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros asks educators to consider what it will take to help all educators, teachers and administrators alike, to grow into forward-thinking, innovative leaders. Couros is widely respected throughout education (if you’re not following him on Twitter, click HERE and enjoy), and his text does not disappoint. Don’t figure out if you’re going to read this; figure out when.
Uncommon Learning by Eric Sheninger explores a number of aspects of education that educators need to be aware of (if not implementing ourselves) right now. From makerspaces and digital learning to BYOD and digital badging, Sheninger has both the educational experience and the expertise as a writer to communicate clearly on each of these important topics. Rooted in his practice during his time as principal at New Milford High School, this text will push you to explore new ideas in new ways.
Dr. Laurence Steinberg, a developmental psychologist, shares his expertise on adolescence and how we can best take advantage of this seminal time in our students’ lives. His perspective is so refreshingly different than most of the literature that hopes to equip teachers and parents to survive this time. Steinberg’s expertise and optimism are a powerful combination, and though this might not be on the radar for many educators, Age of Opportunity is absolutely beneficial for our work.
100-150 PAGES (to be read in a few sittings)
In What Connected Leaders Do Differently, Todd Whitaker, Jeff Zoul, and Jimmy Casas collaborate 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. I recently reread this, and I was both encouraged by my own growth throughout the last year and challenged by the number of simple reminders that I’m not living out.
Personalized PD brings together a host of connected educators who have flipped much of their own professional development. It’s great as a primer or as a challenge for educators who are comfortable with their level of connection currently. The personal vignettes set this text apart from others on the topic. The front cover lists Jason Bretzmann, Kenny Bosch, Dr. Brad Gustafson, Brad Currie, Kristin Daniles, Laura Conley, and Ben Wikoff as authors with 14 more contributing vignettes.
Hacking Education by Mark Barnes and Jennifer Gonzalez is best described by it’s subtitle: 10 quick fixes for every school. What I love about the Hack Learning Series is that more than most of what I read, the authors are willing to take on the tough questions that come along with their proposed changes. This text pushed my thinking, and I’m sure it will do the same for you.
NOT MANY PAGES (to be read in one sitting)
Teaching Students to Self Assess is Starr Sackstein’s 55 page exploration of the question: “How do I help students reflect and grow as learners?” Sackstein has assembled an accessible introduction that is great for any who are considering helping students learn to self-assess. While it absolutely applies to the classroom as you would expect, administrators and leaders can apply the same logic to their work with educators.
In Fostering Grit, Thomas Hoerr looks at how we are working to make sure our students are prepared to take on the world outside our schools. I love his driving question, “How do I prepare my students for the real world?” Hoerr’s 52 page volume is a great primer for those wanting to enter into this conversation. I’m thankful his primer is out there.
Freedom to Fail asks the question, “How do I foster risk-taking and innovation in my classroom?” Andrew Miller’s book offers essential reminders for educators who seek to do just what the title says, regardless of their experience with the idea. At 48 pages, it’s the shortest title in this list, but there’s still plenty here to push your thinking.
So, no excuses. Let’s be learners alongside our students, even when it’s less convenient.