The Summer Reading List All Stars


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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined, episode number 212.

Welcome to the School Leadership Reimagined podcast...

where we rethink what's possible to transform your school. If you're tired of settling for small wins and incremental improvement, then stay tuned to discover powerful and practical strategies for getting every teacher in your school moving towards excellence. Now, here's your host, Robyn Jackson.

Hey, builders, welcome to another episode of the school leadership reimagined podcast. I'm your host, Robyn Jackson.

And today, I'm so excited because every year we do a summer reading list. And it is one of the most popular episodes that we do. And this year is going to be even better because this year, we are going to be doing the summer reading all stars.

So let me give you some background about why we're doing some reading all stars. I was thinking about the summer reading list this year. And I was looking at past summer reading lists just to make sure that I wasn't repeating myself. And I noticed that we have done five summer reading lists. The first one happened in 2018 on this podcast. And so I was looking at those of the summer reading lists over the past five years. And I kept saying, oh, there's so much there's still there's so much meat here. There's so many goodies here. And then the second thing that happened was I was talking to some of the builders inside of builder ship University. And I was talking about the difference between being widely read and well read. Now I am not terribly widely read, I am well read. And the difference is widely read means people read a lot of books. But someone who's well read means that they have read the same books over and over and over again. And they know them really well. And I believe at least for me that it's more powerful to find really good books, books that resonate books that have useful information and read them slowly, carefully read them over and over and over again and implement what you're learning in your practice. That's the purpose I think of reading books, a lot of people read a lot of books, and then they never implement.

So I believe that you you limit the number of books you read, you find really good ones. 

So a lot of times I'll read books, just to kind of figure out what are the books that I'm going to keep. And the books that are on my shelf are the ones that I read over and over and over again 2357 times. And then I implement what I'm reading. And that's what makes me better. So those two things, looking at the past five years, and thinking about the difference between being widely read, and well read, got me thinking. Rather than give you a new list of books to read this year, I thought it would be really fun to take a look back at the last five years. And I share with you the books that I continue to read over and over and over again, the books that have really stood up over time, the books that have had the biggest influence in my practice. So that's what we're going to do today. Now, what's different about this summer reading list than other summer reading list you may have heard of before, and this is for those who have never heard the summer reading list before is that when we do the reading list on this podcast, we are looking at books outside of education. There are a lot of books in education, I write books for educators inside of education. But a lot of times I believe that as educators, we just only read education books, because we think that, you know, they're designed for us to run our schools, but there's a wealth of information outside of education. So I'm going to share with you five books that are outside of education, but that I believe have real implications for educators. Alright, so let's go back all the way to 2018. And let me tell you, that list is still I mean, the whole list still stands. If you want to check out the entire list, then go to Episode 13 Just go to school leadership 13. And what I'll do is in the shownotes, I'm gonna put links to not only all of the books that I mentioned today, but to all of those prior summer reading lists so that you can go back to that those lists and revisit them. Okay, so if you want to see today's show notes where everything is going to be there, just go to school leadership 212 

Okay, so back in 2018 That was the first year we published the summer reading list on the podcast. And that list was really good. I mean, there are a lot The things I had a hard time picking out the books that I've thought we'll just one book out of that list because they're all still good. So many of them I revisited even now, but the one that stood out for me is a book called influence, the new science of leading change. And the authors of that book, it's a lot of them. That's Joseph, Granny Kerry Patterson, David Maxfield, Ron Macmillan and Al Switzer. What's really cool about this book is that they just come out with a third edition. So this book has been updated. But what's powerful about this book is that this book talks about how you can lead change in an organization by leveraging the six sources of influence. And so this is the book that I continually revisit, especially when I'm teaching about culture. So inside of builder, ship University, we use the six sources of influence as part of the culture cure, as part of the process we use to really impact culture, it works, it stood the test of time, what it does is it takes culture and influence this big nebulous concept, and it breaks it down. And it shows you how the specific things that you need to be doing can really shift a culture. And so one of the things I love about this book is that it breaks down the six sources of influence that anyone has inside of a culture. And it shows you how you need to shift things in each of those six areas, if you want to change your culture. So it's very practical, it's very down to earth. They tell great inspiring stories as a part of the book. It's backed by science, and it works. Again, that is influenced the new science of leading change. And make sure you look for the third edition, because that has the most up to date information in it. That book, if you are struggling with culture, if you are, are trying to build a different kind of culture, if you're trying to get mass behavior, change in your culture, whether that's where your teachers or your students, you need to read this book. Okay, so that's 2018. Now, in Episode 40, which was in 2019, we had a new summer reading list. And I have to tell you, this list was pretty strong as well. But the book that I chose from this list is a book that feels a little counterintuitive. And that book is called never split the difference negotiating as if your life depended on it by Chris Voss. 

Now, why am I talking about a book on negotiation? 

This book is not just about negotiation, Chris Voss is a former FBI hostage negotiator. And he shares a lot of tips about what you need to do in a negotiation. But here's why I love this book. This book gives you a lot of subtle things that you need to do when you are working with people and trying to come to a mutual agreement. So if you're sitting with teachers who are pushing back, this book is great to help you get to the root of it, and help your teachers buy in not just comply, but really buy into what you're doing. If you're working with parents who are insistent that things be done a particular way, and you're trying to get things done a different way, then this book is great for helping get parents on board. And if you are negotiating with the district, if you are sitting down with your boss, or the superintendent in your district, and you're advocating for your vision and your school, this book is a great book to have in your back pocket because it works. And we have had people inside of builder ship University who have read this book and then sat down and advocated for their school inside their district and gotten things that they thought they would never get from their district in terms of support and resources for helping their school move towards their vision just by reading this book. So it's you know, Chris Voss is a great character. I think he's even has a class now on masterclass if you have a masterclass membership, where you can, where you can watch him teach you the art of negotiation.

But this book has a lot of just, I mean, there's so many gems in this book that can help you with negotiation. Now you have to be careful, I believe that you need to use your powers for the good and not evil. But if you are coming to the table with the right intent, and if you're really advocating for that vision for 100% of your students, this will cause a lot of powerful gyms to help you really advocate strongly for your students and your school and your teachers and your vision. And so I would strongly recommend this book and I go to it over and over again. Especially when I have something coming up. It's all I always find new gems, it's packed. It's so good. Alright, so that was from 2019. Now in 2020, which was episode 72 of the podcast, we had another good year of books. And this was really hard, right because there were two books on that list in particular, that I really rely on. The first one is build In a storyboard ran by Donald Miller, but the one that I really want to emphasize from that year is a book called upstream the quest to solve problems before they happen. And it's by Dan Heath, this is an underrated gem. I don't know why this book didn't do better than a dead because what it does is it really makes the case for solving problems before they become problems. You know, we're always reacting to problems, we're always you know, waiting till after something happens and then just reacting to it rather than eliminating the problem to begin with. But as builders, we need to be focused on eliminating problems. That is who we are. That's what we're building where we don't want to put out fires for the rest of our lives, we want to make sure that the fires never start in the first place. And so if you are tired of putting out fires and dealing with stuff every single year, this book is a great book to help you think about how do you nip stuff in the bud before they become problems. This book, if you really did with this book said, you would save yourself so much stress and so much, so much angst, because this book is really about helping you think upstream, helping you cut things off before they they swell and become bigger problems down the line. And if we just did this, it could significantly reduce the amount of stress we're going to have the school year, this summer is a great time to really think do some upstream thinking. Especially because we end up we always act surprised when new problems show up. But in reality, the same, that same problem was a problem last year, and we just forgot, and we never did anything about it. And this will can help you think about things so that if you really put this into practice next year is not going to be so stressful next year is not going to have so many challenges because you are solving problems before they become problems you're preventing. And and so this book is a book I'm actually going to be rereading this myself this summer, some of the books I kind of grab and and look at when I need things. 

But this one, I'm going to sit down and read cover to cover again, because I think it's just such a good reminder that we need to be making sure that we're solving problems before they become bigger problems. 

Alright, so that was 2020 in 2021 on and that's episode 109. We had that was a slim year, that was a real slim year for books. And and I don't even think we got to five books that year. But there was a book in that list that not only did we suggest for the summer reading list, but we did it inside of builder ship University is a part of our book club and be you so from time to time and be you. You know, we're all interested, we'll get together and we'll all read a book together. And then we'll get together and talk about the book and the implications for us. And the book that I want to recommend is a book called effortless, make it easier to do what matters most by Greg McEwan. And I hope I'm saying his name correctly. This book talks about how we end up working way harder than we need to. And it really helps you think through how to make the work that you do feel more effortless. And one of the things that came out in the conversation when we first read it and one of the things that I kind of revisit when I revisit this book is this idea that there's so much that we're doing that feels effortful, and that's why we're tired. But if we make things effortless, if we just kind of, you know, just restructure things so that that we make it work better for us. We do it more often, and we get more results. And so I revisit this book often and the concepts of this book often because anytime something feels too effortful, then I start thinking about, okay, is this something I need to be doing? If so how do I make an effort less so that I like doing it so that it gets done? And that really aligns with one of the core values of mine steps, which is drama free work environment, right? This idea that if it's too effortful, it's going to create too much drama. And so we're constantly doing this in team meetings. We're constantly coming back to this, how do we take what we're doing and make it effortless? And I was just, I mean, I just came out of a team meeting this morning. And I was asking again, alright, how do we make this effortless, because this is important. And if you start thinking that way about the most important work that you're doing, that work will get done. That's really, it's the key to making sure that the most important work gets done. So this is a great book. If you are dropping the ball. It's a great book, if you're feeling like it just takes too much energy and time and effort to do things that are really important. 

This is a great book to help you rethink the work and make the work effortless. 

And then finally the last book is from 2020 to last year, and it's episode 159 And this book book is called the four signs of psychological safety by Timothy Clarke. I liked this book, when I first read it, and that's why it made it to the summer reading list. I can't tell you how many times I've come back to this framework, I love this framework, because a lot of times people, you know, talk about, we want to create a safe environment, but they don't have language, they don't have a framework to talk about what it really means to make someplace safe. And especially coming out of the pandemic, and especially the distrust that's happening in our world amongst people as as the as our society becomes more polarizing, it is a lot more crucial, more more important to make sure that we are making our school safe for the students and for the adults in the school. And I believe that this book is something that all of us should be studying right now, to figure out how do we intentionally create safety. But you've heard me talk in the past about how builders, you know, leaders try to make people comfortable and builders realize that when you make people comfortable, they don't want to move because I'm comfortable. Like I'm comfortable in this chair, why would I ever want to get up. But builders do is we don't focus on making people comfortable, we focus on making people safe. And this book has the best breakdown that I've ever read about what that means. What does it mean when you say I want my kids to feel safe. So I love this book, because it takes this concept of safety. And it makes it tangible. So that when we say we want to work on safety, or make someplace safe, this is what we really mean. 

So that's it, those are the five books that I recommend you revisit this summer, those are the five books that I'm going to be diving into this summer actually going to be doing more than that. Because as I was going through the summer reading list, I said, Oh, my goodness, I forgot about this book, I need to pull that out and start pulling things out off my shelf again, and taking a look at those books. Here's what I want to challenge you to do. Five books is a lot for this summer. But based on these descriptions, and the problems that I think these books solve, I want to challenge you to pick at least one of these five books, and take it out and read it this summer, and reread it and pick something some some tangible thing from this book, and implement it in your practice this coming fall. So rather than just reading a book, and just, oh, that's a good book and those great ideas, and maybe I'll do something one day, let's all commit to implementing. 

All right, so I'd love to hear what you're reading right now. So what I'm going to ask you to do is in school, the school leadership reimagined a Facebook group, if you would jump into that Facebook group, and if you're not a member, go ahead and join because that's where all the good stuff that's happening. That's where we, you know, continue the conversations after the show. And actually, I'm in there more these days, because I want to make that a more active group. But please join the school leadership reimagined group and tell me what book you're reading. Now, here's the only thing. It cannot be a book aimed at educators, it has to be a book outside of education. And if you don't have a book, tell me which one of these books on this list you're going to be reading this summer. Because here's the thing, when you are well read and when you when you read a book and you take that information and you digest it, and you implement it in your practice, that's how you grow. That's how you get better. That's how you get mentored by some of the best minds in the world. And it's also how you can continue to grow and get better, like a builder. 

I'll talk to you next time.

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