Summer Reading List 2021


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You're listening to the school leadership reimagined podcast episode 109. 

Hey Builders, 

Welcome to another episode of the school leadership reimagined podcast. I'm your host, Robin Jackson. And today, we are doing our annual summer reading list. Now normally, I try to give you five or six books that have really had an impact on me throughout the year. And the thing is that these are non education books. So books outside of education this year is a little different. And we'll talk about why in just a second. But before we do, I want to make a couple of announcements.

Registration for Builders Lab has officially closed. 

This has been a crazy Builders Lab season. And we had so many registrations this time that we actually have to close registration down early. One of the things we do that makes builders lab so special is that we keep builders, labs, small intimates, we have less than 100 people. And that way I can give everybody individual attention and feedback as we go throughout the process. So we have closed down registration, we have a huge number of people who are coming. If you did not get your ticket for builders lab in time, then don't worry, we have another one coming up in January. And we'll be releasing those dates those January dates towards the end of June. So just look out for that. The second thing is that the mindsets pop up group is also closing down in just two weeks, we have two weeks left, we're closing down at the end of the second week in June. So that we can start preparing for a builder's lab 360 the 360 degree experience. So if you have not come to one of our vision workshops in the pop up group yet or you have not attended one of the office hours, you have two weeks left in to join the pop up group, go to mind steps scroll down on that homepage and you see a section that has the button to enroll in the free mindsets pop up group. Now even if you're listening to this sometime in the future, go ahead and enroll because the pop up group pops up and then it pops out. 

So we popped up for the last couple of months to help you in the school year will probably start popping up again somewhere around August. And so that we can help you get geared up for the upcoming school year. And so we pop up for a couple of months, and then we pop out that we pop up. So make sure that you join the group. Okay, third announcement. Because there were so many people who were interested in builders lab, one of the things that we have decided to do is we have decided to create a post conference for builders lab. So we're going to do a half day post conference for builders labs. So builders lab goes through June 28, through 30th. And on July one, we are going to do a free post conference that gives you a distillation of what you get a builders lab, that builder ship model, and we have something really cool that we're planning for you. And it's absolutely free. And so I'll give you some more information about that as we start setting things up for that. But I want you to reserve the date, we're going to be going July 120 21. And we'll be going from 10am to 2pm. Eastern time, so make sure that you save that date. And I'll have some more information for you about that shortly. 

Okay, let's dive into our Summer Reading List. 

So this year, I have to admit that putting together the summer reading list was pretty tough. Part of it was that during the pandemic, I don't know if I read as much because I wasn't traveling as much Normally, I read when I'm on planes and so I don't think I was reading as much. Secondly, I'm not sure that there were as many books I found interesting. So even of the books that I read, some of them were okay, but they didn't there weren't Summer Reading List worthy and I was I had all this pressure to try to put together five or six books for you. And then I finally decided, you know, forget that pressure. You don't need that. Instead, I'm going to share with you the books that I really do think you need to be reading this summer. And I'm going to share with you a couple of other books that I plan to read this summer. So I'm not going to give you a recommendation for those books, I'm just going to share with you what I'm reading. And then if you would share with me books that you found to be really helpful inside of the mind steps pop up group or in the school leadership, reimagined Facebook group, we can all share with each other.

So the first book on my list is a book that was recommended to me by a friend in the midst of the COVID crisis. And it's called Apollo's Arrow. And it's by Nicholas, a Christakis. And that book, I put off reading it at first, because you're in the middle of a COVID crisis, do you want to read about a COVID crisis. Plus, with everybody being an armchair doctor on Facebook, I thought I already knew everything I needed to know about COVID. But then I started reading this book. And it's not just about how COVID began, or what COVID is, it really is, to me the most comprehensive and informative timeline of how pandemics began. And it reads kind of like this thriller, where you're, you know, you're trying to beat the pandemic, it gives a ton of background information, I think it's really helpful to read so that you can sift through all the mythology out there around COVID. And as a lot of schools are moving towards opening up in the fall, this book would really be helpful for you and your teachers who may still be a little nervous about opening up and worried that they may be putting themselves at risk. This book can help you navigate that and figure out what kind of protocols make sense, and how you're going to help children digest and metabolize what's happened over the last year. So I feel like if, if you want to be really informed about COVID, rather than piecing together this article, or this Facebook epidemiologist or this news conference, especially when there's so much misinformation around there, I thought that this book did a really good job of giving kind of a comprehensive picture, not just of COVID-19, but of of epidemics and pandemics in general and how they spread. It's fascinating. So the first book is Apollo's arrow.

The second book is a book that I may have recommended before.

I went back and looked in the archives, and I didn't see it, but I feel like I've recommended it before. And this book is called Influence. But this one is the new and expanded version. And the subtitle is the psychology of persuasion by Robert v. Cal Dini. Now, the reason I love this book is because he has done a great job of unpacking what actually influences people, how you can have influence over other people, how you can persuade people to your ideas, then also how we are being subtly persuaded by others in advertising and social media, I think it's a really good look at at the subtle factors that go into why people buy into ideas and why they don't. Now this is why I think it's really important for educators, one of your jobs as a Builder is inviting people to join you in building something bigger, and more comprehensive than any one person can do by themselves. And so a lot of your success as a Builder depends on your ability to persuade challenges that a lot of people get enamored by their ideas, and they think, Wow, this idea is so self evident, I can't believe somebody wouldn't want to join me in building this when, in many cases, there are other factors at play. And this book does a really good job of helping you understand what those other factors might be, and how that might impact people's willingness to join you on your Buildership journey. And it also gives you some some hints about how to be more persuasive.

Now, I hesitate in recommending this book, because it really does kind of pull back the curtain on how you can persuade people and some of the ideas and the strategies around persuasion and this book could be used for evil. So I am sharing this book with you and hoping that if you read it, you will use these powers for good, but it is so good it is so that some of the tactics and the strategies that they share and the psychology that goes underneath them. I mean, by the time you finish reading this book, you feel like you could convince people of anything. So again, use your powers for the good. You're not convincing people to do things that aren't good. You want to convince people to join you on this bullish journey. Because of what you can build together for students, and you know, the first step and build a ship, if you're thinking about achieving your vision in the next three years, the very first thing that you need to do is you need to create that belief. And this book can help you do that this book can help you help other people believe in the vision that you have, and, and help you to be able to tell that vision story in a way that that other people are compelled to join you on your builder ship journey. So the second book is Influence

The third book is a book that I debated long and hard about putting on the list. 

Ultimately, I decided to do it because I think this book does a couple of things. So as we know, 2020 2021 has been kind of the year of racial reckoning. And there are a lot of groups who are coming out. And they are putting the spotlight on ways that they have been marginalized, and oppressed, and challenging us to have deeper conversations around race. And so there are a lot of books out right now that are tackling that issue around race. And one of those books is a book called Caste. And it's by Isabel Wilkerson. And it was an Oprah book club selection. A lot of people are reading it, reading it, because it does a really good job, I understand of kind of laying out how America became such a country where race was such an issue and looking at the origins of racism. But she has another book, and this book is called The Warmth of Other Suns. And it is my third Summer Reading List selection for this year, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. This book is I mean that that's one of your words for this book. It really, it really changed a lot of how I thought about this country's history with race in school, we teach slavery, the civil rights movement, Barack Obama, that is the story of race in America. But there is a hidden section of our history that we often we don't know about, and we don't discuss. And that is that history that's often titled The Great Migration.

The Warmth of Other Suns really does a good job of explaining what happened between slavery and Martin Luther King. And it's fascinating. It she talks about how many African Americans in the south migrated to northern cities, and how those migratory patterns are, were basically dictated by the railroads. And so a lot of the the, the The racial makeup of some northern cities can be directly traced by those railroad lines. And so it gives us fascinating understanding of why Detroit is Detroit and why Los Angeles is Los Angeles and why DC is DC by looking at where people were migrating from, and what they were escaping and what they what they bought to those cities. And so you know, just from a sociological perspective, it's fascinating. But the stories that she tells, so she, she shares that information interspersed with stories, and she traces the stories of three different people who left the South in three different areas and came north. And those personal stories that are interspersed with other stories, is really what makes this book so compelling. And if you can get a hold of the audio book, I would strongly urge you to do that because it's good reading. But the narrator for the audio book adopts the accents and the cadences that, frankly, took me back to my childhood made me remember my grandparents and my great grandparents, many of whom were migrants from the south, who, who were part of that great migration.

Even on a personal level, this book resonated to me.

A lot of times those stories didn't get told people wanted to forget. And so she was able to bring out a lot of those stories to help you understand what was happening in the south after the Civil War, and what was it like and what were those conditions like, and, you know, not just talking about just the sharecropping conditions or Jim Crow, but she just talked about very personal stories, things that happen, dreams that that went unmet people who were frustrated and felt, you know, they felt suffocated by such an oppressive system and people who decided to escape that system. And if you really want to understand race in America, a lot of times right now we're focusing on issues of oppression and we're turning our gaze towards a lot of black pain but under Standing the stories and understanding the full history of, of what we how we got here today and understanding this very forgotten era. I think it's powerful. And so if you want to kind of get a more comprehensive understanding of of how race has been shaped, and, and created in the United States and and the impact that that's had on large swaths of people, then you can read the books on critical race theory. And I encourage you to do that. But don't overlook this book, because I think it explains a huge part of our history that we don't talk about. And it's well written. Now, speaking of Isabel Wilkerson, I wanted to read The Warmth of Other Suns before Caste. And I'll be honest, I put off reading the warmth of other suns, it's I mean, this book is not new, it's been out for years. I just, I didn't know if I was ready to read it, I just, but it didn't turn out to be what I expected. It wasn't just this litany of black pain there. It's just the stories are so compelling.

So now that I've read it Caste is on my summer reading list as one of the books that I'm going to be reading this summer. Another book that I am excited to read is a book called The True Believer by Eric Hoffer. This is a book that I understand is a pretty old book, but he talks about the science of creating mass movement. And the reason that I'm really excited about reading this book is because I understand that he breaks down how mass movements start how they grow. And I'm interested in this from two perspectives. One, I see a lot of mass movements happening across the world right now. And I'm really interested in and how they start, and also how they can be manipulated. And what that means for us as a as a society as a culture as a world. But I'm also interested in it from an educators perspective, what does it mean to create a mass movement around student success? How do you take a district or system that has for years invested in flawed policies, and they have now become these giant bureaucracies that don't do anything? How do you go into a system like that? and change it? How do you get people to step out of something that they've always known and, and take the risk of moving towards something new and building something new.

I want to read that book to get a better understanding and to share those insights with you as Builders. 

The third book that is on my summer reading list right now is a book called Burnout by Emily naugus, Nagasaki and Emilia Nagasaki, this one, I'm worried it's going to be a little woowoo. But I heard them interviewed recently. And I thought I try it, because they are talking about what happens when people get burned out. So one of the things that I hear the most from principals right now is that I'm burned out, my teachers are burned out, my kids have burned out. It's been a long time. Wait, what do I do about burnout. So wanted to learn a little bit more about what happens in burnout, and how to manage your own burnout, and also look and see if there are some clues about how to handle other people's burnout. So that one's on my summer reading list. The next book on my list is a book called Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by the poet Cathy Park Hong. And the reason I want to read this book is because I think that the conversations that we're having around AAPI, people, racial incidents that are happening, the they're being targeted a lot of times because of the covid 19 crisis has made me realize that I have a lot of ignorance around Asian American hate crimes, or the even the Asian American experience.

And so, I heard her on a podcast interview, talk about this book, and it made me want to read it because it's a collection of essays that that talk about the Asian American experience, and, and what it means and, and how they that a lot of Asian Americans feel like they are kind of operating on the margins. You know, one of the things that she says is that Asians are perceived to be emotionless functionaries, and yet she feels like she's always frantically paddling my feet underwater, always overcompensating to hide my devouring feelings of inadequacy. And so she talks about that experience. And I think that if you serve Asian American students, if you have Asian teachers, this may be a good book that can help you at least develop an awareness of, of some of the challenges that they may be facing that they never talk about. Now. I'm not a big advocate of like reading about other people's experiences and thinking that you understand them. But I do think that, for me reading this book, it's going to help me be more aware. You know, sometimes I get so fixated on the African American experience, because it's my lived experience that I don't often take into account that there are other lived experiences out there. And so, for me, this book is going to be, I think, really insightful and expanding my thinking around race in this way.

What is the last book on my Summer Reading Radar?

I'm pretty excited about reading it because of its promise, and it's by Greg McKeown, I think that's how you pronounce it. And it's called Effortless: Make It Easier To Do What Matters Most. And the promise of this book, it sounds pretty appealing, because it's all about how to do the most essential things and make them effortless. So you may recognize Greg McKeown, his name from his book, essentialism, the disciplined pursuit of less, and we featured that on a prior summer reading list. And if you haven't read that book, it's a really good book. And it shows you how to focus on what matters most. And as builders, that's really important, because you want to focus on the things that matter. And we're always talking about, let's get to the root cause let's deal with the thing that is the most important and forget everything else. And so that book, essentialism really makes a case for doing that. But I love the promise of this new book, because he talks about how as high achievers, we've been really conditioned to believe that the path to success is it's all about this relentless work. And so what happens is we as overachievers try to overthink, overdo over exert, and it's exhausting. So what he talks about, and in this book is he's giving actionable advice on how to make the most essential activities, the easiest activities. And so I really want to do that this year, because I want to, you know, eat my own dog food, and stop working so hard on things that don't matter.

So even for my first book, never work harder than your students. It's always been about not working harder and working smarter for me. And so I'm excited to read this book, because I feel that there are still areas in my work that where I'm working too hard. And so the things that he promises to talk about are things like how do you turn tedious task into enjoyable rituals? And how do you prevent frustration by solving problems before they arise? Uh, you know, I'm a big proponent of that, and how do you set a sustainable pace. And that's the thing that I've been struggling with the most right now is that I have this sense of urgency about what potential success a school can have. And once I see that vision, and I want it right now, and so I don't always set a sustainable pace. And so I really want to learn more about that. So that book is probably the one that I'm going to pick up first and start reading early in the summer so that I can be thinking about it and setting things up for the fall.

So that's it for my Summer Reading List. 

We have three books that I definitely can recommend. And just as a reminder, those books are The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson Influence: New and Expanded by Robert B. Cal Dini and Apollo's Arrow by Nicholas a Christakis. And then there are some other books that are on my list of things to read. Now, I'm curious about you, what's on your summer reading list. A lot of times we read a lot of books around education, or you read books for pleasure. But there's a lot of wisdom to be found in books that don't seem to be directly related to education, but give us a lot of insight and education. So I'd love to hear from you. What books are you reading this summer? send me a tweet, Robyn underscore mindsteps on Twitter. Let me know on LinkedIn, give me some recommendations on LinkedIn and Robyn Jackson on LinkedIn. Or you can go to the Mindsteps School Leadership Reimagined Facebook group on Facebook and share your insight there. And that way, I can pick up a few more books that I can put on my summer reading list.

And then if you read these books, I'd love to know what you think about them. What was your biggest takeaway, and again, share that in the school leadership reimagined Facebook group, I plan on spending a lot of time there over the summer. So that's a great place for us to connect. So this concludes this season of the school leadership reimagined podcast but one of the things that we've been hearing from many of you, especially those of you who are longtime podcast listeners, is that you'd like to revisit some of the earlier podcasts but it's hard to figure out where did I hear that thing that she said that one time about that thing? And so what we're going to be doing this summer is we're going to do a summer rewind, a school leadership reimagined, summer rewind, and we are going to be rebroadcasting some of the most popular podcasts that we've had in the past. And that way, it's an opportunity to revisit some of the earlier podcast to hear some of that information again, you don't have to go look for it.

Starting next week, we're going to be doing our first rewind series. 

Now we're not just going to repeat the podcast, we'll do the meat of the podcast, but I'll be introducing all of our rewind podcast with new commentary new insights, you'll hear how my thinking has evolved since the podcast originally aired. So stay tuned for our summer rewind series starting next week, and until then, go ahead and, and finish the school year strong and go into the summer thinking and planning and, and and dreaming #LikeABuilder. 

I'll talk to you next time. 

Hey, if you're ready to get started being a builder right away, then I want to invite you to join us at Buildership University. It's our exclusive online community for builders just like you where you'll be able to get the exact training that you need to turn your school into a success story right now with the people and resources you already have. You'll find our best online courses, live trainings with me tons of resources, templates and exemplars and monthly live office hours with me where you can ask me anything and get my help on whatever challenge you're facing right now. If you're tired of hitting obstacle after obstacle and you're sick of tiny little incremental gains each year, if you're ready to make a dramatic difference in your school right now, then you need to join Buildership University. Just go to and get started writing your school success story today.

I'll talk to you again next time.

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