While the phrase “summer vacation” might be somewhat of a misnomer for educators (and especially for those in leadership roles), the summer months nevertheless provide ample opportunities for reading and reflecting. What you read over the summer has the power to transform the upcoming school year — here are a few recommendations to help spark powerful ideas about teaching, learning, and organizational strategy.
This week, we had the privilege of leading a deep dive workshop with approximately 75 heads of school at AISNE’s Heads Retreat. The setting (Cape Cod) was restful and AISNE staged a wonderful two day retreat that offered real time for reflection, structured work, and organic conversations.
We loved every minute of our work with Heads, and we also loved listening to AISNE’s other guest speaker. He was funny, warm, and he captured beautifully our belief that great leadership and strategy is all about making clear choices about what to do and what not to do.
Conversations about equity in schools continue to be of interest and importance. We notice these conversations often focus on related cultural, political, and social prescriptions, via specific curricula and programs for adults and students. We wonder about other approaches to thinking about equity.
I had the very good fortune this July to attend a Challenge Success Summer Leadership Seminar. As it happened, the Principal and Vice Principal of my own children’s public middle school were also in attendance. After a busy morning of workshops, I took advantage of the lull before lunch to share with the two school administrators an anecdote with my perspective on the preceding school year. To sum up, my story went something like this: “I just wanted to say that overall I am very satisfied with what I assume is the school’s policy to not assign homework over holidays and long breaks, with one exception. For the winter and spring breaks both of my children, in grades 6 and 8, were asked to complete sections of a review book for the state math assessment. What concerns me is the message that it sends about the values of our school. We say we have a commitment to breaks as downtime for students and their families to unwind and spend quality time with one another, without the stress of homework. But when that commitment is measured against the requirements of standardized testing schedules, we allow the test to take precedence. We are in essence communicating that we value performance on a standardized test more than we value the need of families to have quality time with one another while on vacation.”
Summer reading lists abound with informative professional recommendations, but my attention in June and July tends to turn to good, old fashioned sagas (Saints for All Occasions), psychological thrillers (The Other Wife), and memoirs (Educated). So I like the Fall reading list for getting back to work -- and there are a few things grabbing my attention now that are worthy of your nightstands. What I love about all four books is that they offer real insight into learning -- and the lessons can be applied to how organizations and individuals can lead and perform well -- by learning! For educators, many of the insights will inspire and inform your teaching practice - particularly Newport’s and Hoogterp’s books.
Strategy That Works by Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi
Engine of Impact by William Meehan and Kim Starkey Jonker
If you’ve read Creating Schools That Thrive (and if not, please do!) you may recall my story of hiking Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen), Norway in March, 2009. The story of the hike became my metaphor for strategic design -- for distilling the language of strategy and helping clients make sense of the process to design and execute strategy.
You know the joke about the carpenter's house never being finished or the doctor who doesn't follow her own advice? Last month, in a flurry of work and new engagements, I realized we had the same issue at GLP as the carpenter has with his partially built home. So - in the midst of the heaviest work schedule this year - I called for a one day retreat with the team and planned it much in the same way we would with our clients.
Our Summer 2018 Reading List is here and we are eager to share some great suggestions, both new and old. As usual, some of our choices are education focused and others take a broader view to issues that we think matter for schools. And of course, we must put in a plug for our own book coming out in mid June: Creating Schools that Thrive: A Blueprint for Strategy.
Resolutions abound around January 1. We commit to all sorts of new behaviors, we set goals, and we feel the excitement of starting anew.
I’ve found that one resolution always worth making is to commit to better feedback practices. Make a commitment to request and offer feedback effectively. If you are already doing it, how can you do it better? And if you are not doing, how do you start?
In December 2015, the cheekily named “Study of Maternal and Child Kissing (SMACK) Work Group” published a study titled “Maternal kisses are not effective in alleviating minor childhood injuries (boo-boos): a randomized, controlled and blinded study” in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice.
Although the journal is real, the study is (of course) a spoof - a mocking jab at the cool data-driven objectivity of empirical studies taken to an extreme.