The Annual Summer Reading List


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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined, episode number 263.

Hey builders,

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Hey, builders, welcome to another episode of the school leadership reimagined podcast. 

I'm your host, Robin Jackson. And today is our annual summer reading list. Every year, on the first week of June, we issue a reading list of between three and five books outside of education that we really feel have some insight, a new perspective that that can offer the book can offer to educators to help us look at old problems from a new perspective. So I believe it's really important that as educators, we read widely outside of education that some of my best ideas, some of the biggest things that we use in terms of even how we do build a ship have come from reading business books and books in psychology, and cookbooks and all kinds of books. And so we every year, compile a list of books that we've been reading here at mind steps and builders ship university, that are not in education, they may be about something totally, you know, different from education. But these books offer insights that we have used personally in our work to improve schools and to ultimately get to that 100% success and 100% staff alignment. So without further ado, here is this year's list. Now, the first book we're going to talk about today have a title that has a naughty word in it. So I'm can't quite say it's the NO BULL blank strategy. And it's by Alex M. H. Smith. Now, this book is a book all about strategy. And one of the reasons that I found it really helpful was because it breaks down how to do strategy in a way that is no BS, it's all of the things that we've been talking about all you need to, you know, a lot of times we think of strategy is just a goal. And and so we say, you know, like our strategy is to be the number one school in the district. That's not a strategy. That's a goal.

And so he talks about the mistake that we make often when we confuse strategies with goals, he has a list of mistakes that we make around strategy. And I love his definition of strategy, because it's really about how you are going to deliver value to your customers. I mean, this is a business book. So you've talked about customers, but just substitute customers for students? How will you deliver value to students? I love that I've been thinking about that a lot. Especially as we have conversations ongoing and build a ship university about, you know about that vision, what that vision means. And, and so we're always, you know, building that 100% vision, but at the heart of that 100% vision is what value we intend to add to the lives of our students. And he goes even further to talk about how is that value unique? How is that something that your students can only get from you? And I don't think schools think about that enough. We are constantly thinking about, Oh, you know, we want to improve reading scores. Well, we want to do this. But you know, nowadays technology is here and students can get a lot of that other ways. But how often do we think about what unique role our schools can play in the lives of our students? And how often do we think about that from the perspective of students? We wouldn't do school totally differently if we did that. 

So I love this book because it it really helps you think about strategy. Not the way we were trained, not the CIP plan. You know, some CIP plan is supposed to be strict school improvement plan, and it's supposed to be strategic. And often our CIP plans are not strategic at all. But this book really helps you think strategically about how to build a school that provides unique value for students. Now, I have to warn you, this gets a little tech Broly. You know, it is a business book. And so we are not the books target audience. But that's one of the reasons why I love reading outside of education, because you get new perspectives, you see things for new ways, but so when you're reading this book, you know, you kind of gotta get over the tech bro, EEG language, it's not too bad, but it's there. And then think about this not as a company or business. But think about this as a school and how we provide value. I love the book for that reason for that, that idea, that concept of thinking about the unique role, the unique value you offer to students and their families. And I think it could really change your perspective about how you do school and help you do school differently do school like a belter? 

Alright, that's the first book. 

The next book is by someone I've admired for a long time I've studied underneath her, you've heard me quote her before, she's been hugely influential in my work. And her name is Annie Hyman Pratt, and she has a book called the people part. And it's really about the the seven agreements entrepreneurs and leaders make to build teams accelerate growth, and banish burnout for good. Now, I love Annie. And so reading this book was really a great way for to take some of the things that Annie has taught over the years. And to see it distilled into this, this, this, this the seven agreements. And one of the reasons why I love Annie is for the the concept of agreements in the first place. So any talks about agreements that you make, so instead of this top down, top down leadership that that a lot of us have been taught to do you know that we are the principal, and you need to tell everybody else what to do. And he talks about how you make agreements with the people you serve as principal, your teachers, your students, your staff. And these agreements help govern the work. And so she talks about seven agreements, I just want to kind of read some of the agreements to you. 

So you can see what you know, kind of get the feel for what this book talks about. So one of the first things she does is she talks about self leadership. And the first agreement is that everybody agrees to show up in self leadership rather than in self protection. I love that because any, it's really good at defining the behaviors that we that we kind of default to that are really about self protection instead of moving the work forward. And so she she talks about the victim loop and the accountability loop. That's something that, you know, she's allowed me to teach in builder's University for years. But she takes us out and talks about this idea of how do we keep ourselves from slipping into self protection, which I love that she talks about, we define and align on a 10 intended outcomes, you know, and he for years has taught me anchoring the outcomes. But creating a culture where you are constantly anchoring in the outcomes is really important. You see talks about we clarify our parts and where they fit in the hole. I love that that role clarity, those of you and build a ship university, you know that in level four, we have the whole team architecture. And so that really gets at this idea of role clarity and about how if you can create that clarity around roles, what the what the success outcomes and expectations are, then you set people up to really be effective in their roles. She said, the fourth agreement is we consider our impact on others, we have their backs, and we repair relationships promptly. Love this. This is what creates that healthy culture conflict often happens. 

But when you have an agreement that you're going to do the repair, and you're going to have each other's backs, it can change things. She talks about making collaborative conscious agreements that we're confident we can keep. That's number five. Number six, we recognize change, anticipate impacts, and proactively adapt our agreements. So that these agreements are here for now. But you have an agreement that you revisit your agreements, how many times I'm gonna say agreements during this podcast, but you revisit them when they when it's necessary. So you're not locked into these things. You're not stuck. You're constantly evolving as things change. And then we make the best practices habitual to achieve our highest performance and potential. Can you imagine a school is where all of the seven agreements are in play? Can you imagine what that culture looks like? So those of you who are thinking about core values, this is a great book to read, because it gives you some things that would make great core values. These agreements would make great core values and For those of you who are worried about culture, this is a great book to read, because these agreements helped shape a new kind of culture. And as we kind of update some of the culture resources inside of BU, we're going to be relying heavily on this book to do that. So again, this one is a good one. This one is by Annie Hyman Pratt, and this call the people part. Okay, so the third book on our summer reading list is a book by Cal Newport called deep work rules for focused success in a distracted world. 

Now, this book is one of the heavier books on the list. 

And it's, it's well written, I listened to this book, probably not a good idea probably should have read it so that I could stop and think about it. And this one is, arguably the hardest one to implement, because this one is really about finding time carving out time in your day or your week to do the deep thinking. And I know that so many of us are so busy, we're like, yeah, what am I finding time to do that, but it is so important. And so that's why I included the book on this list. Because I have been struggling with this too, we got a lot going on, you know, building the curriculum inside of builder ship University, I'm working on a new book, doing a lot more traveling that I've been doing in the in the last couple of years, and finding time in, in this world full of distractions to really do that deep thinking, I've missed it. And so reading this book reminded me of how important it was, you know, before all these distractions, I used to just spend, you know, an hour or two at least once a week to sitting down and just really trying to figure stuff out. And I find that when I feel overwhelmed, it's because I'm not doing this deep work. This is how we create and I noticed that my productivity has really suffered because I don't spend the time doing the deep work. 

And so this is a great book this summer to put some just small, you know, you don't have to do everything in a book. But you can find some small things to do something as simple as putting an app on your phone or your computer that blocks distracting websites like Facebook and Instagram. I know that since I've done that, it's helped me to, you know, stop getting into social media wormholes, you know, sometimes at night, after, especially after a tough day, I just want to scroll. And so I allowed myself time to do that. But I set a timer and then after a certain time, it blocked it just closes the app closes out the the social media sites that I can't get back to it. So it forces me to stop and to look up and to do something else. Other things like setting aside of time for that deep work, I've been really trying to play around with my schedule to make sure that I have time at least once a week to do some deep thinking. And it's really helped in the fact we're going to be unveiling something in August. That is a result of that deep work. So I'm finding that that taking time to do the deep work has really been helpful for me. And I think it would be helpful for you to so you can read this book as kind of a reminder to do the deep work, I think there's some really cool tips in there on how to do it. Some of the tips feel a little luxurious to me, like you know, the I don't know that I can, that we can all find a way to do some of the things he does, but it does push our thinking. So approach this book with an open mind. 

Take as much as you can from it and really make a commitment this year to spend at least once a week, just doing some of the deep work, you can get so much fiber faster in your school, if you spend time doing that. And as builders, that's what we're doing, we are putting the systems in place so that we can free up the time to do the work that only we can do as builders in our school. And that's the only way you're gonna get to 100%. So Deep Work by Cal Newport really important reminder for us that we need to be spending time doing the the work that really matters. And that requires setting aside some time to think and not just react all the time so that we can actually solve the challenges that are in the way of our students success. Hey, it's Robin here real quick. I just want to interrupt this episode for just a second because if you are enjoying what you're hearing, then would you mind sharing this episode with somebody else. So all you need to do is just go to your phone if you're listening to on your phone or your podcast player, and then click the three dots next to this episode. And I'll give you the option to share the episode that if you do that three things are going to happen first, the person that you shared with is going to think you're a hero especially if they're struggling with what we're talking about right now. They're going to love you. Secondly, you're going to feel good because you're going to get the word out about builder ship and start building this builder ship nation. And third, you will get my eternal gratitude because I really want to get this out For the world, and you'd be helping me out You'd be doing me a huge favor so please share this episode with someone right now who's who's dealing with this same issue someone you think would really benefit. And now back to the show the fourth book on this list is a book called all in by Mike McCalla wits now now, you there have been several books on the list that have appeared to pass by Mike McCalla wits, I usually find his books to be really practical, you know, explorations of what you can do right now. 

A lot of outside the box tactical things. So that are also very practical. 

So this book is here to talk about how do you build back kind of all in attitude in the people who work for you. It's a quick read, it has some great tips inside and this book, really, you know, like, I got it on Kindle. And then you know, this is one of the ones where I actually got as a hardcopy, it's, you know, easy to read on like planes on vacations. I find that with with his books, that you you kind of go through them once pretty quickly, because like I said, it's a quick read lots of stories, lots of illustrations, you need to think about it, and then you start to find, oh, you know, like, when you start going back to your work, you start to see instances where his book will be applicable. And what I like about Mike McCalla wits is it's not just the typical thing that they say, do, you know, his he's really about investing in the people who work for you, and, and believing in their potential and, you know, getting all in with them so they can get all in with you. So a lot of times administrators are like, how do I get everybody to buy in, but you don't buy into the people that you want to buy into you. So I don't understand how you think that's going to work. What he talks about is how you can get people to go all in and give their best, because you have invested in them. But he's not asking you to invest in them in ways that feel like they're just, you know, you have to sell your soul, right, it's more about caring about people, which da we should all be doing anyway. And, and making sure that that you are setting up structures so that people can be successful. So this one's pretty practical. 

Again, he's a business guy. So a lot of is about, you know, kind of focuses on organizations that are business organizations, but there's so much gold in here that you can take and extrapolate and use in a school setting, that I thought it would be really important to include this one on the list as well. Alright, so the last book on our list is a book called The click code, why some teams click and others don't by Dr. J. Bruce Stewart. Now, I wasn't quite sure I was going to include this one on the list. And so I debated back and forth about it because and then I realized that my Quarrel was more with some of like more of a style of writing than anything else, because he writes very similar to Malcolm Gladwell, but he is not Malcolm Gladwell. So I gotta get that out the way that's the English teacher in me. But the book itself is really a good breakdown of why about group dynamics and how groups work together and how teams work together. So it tells us is great research, shares a lot about psychological studies. So you get some insight. And then he also breaks down and kind of clarifies what makes the team work together. What I like about this book is that he talks about diversity and inclusion in ways that are not just aspirational. They're not just about what should happen, but about how they really work, how they factor into how teams work together. And just because he talks about how just because you have diverse people on the team doesn't mean that the team is going to work. So he breaks down how to make diverse teams work, he talks about the difference between diversity and inclusion. So this is not like a dei book. And you know, people are complaining, like it's not, it's not woke in that way. He just talks about the science of it, and about how things work together and how people work together. 

So for that reason, I thought this would be a really good book for those of you who are building teams and, and working to build teams in your school because, again, he breaks down the code for how it works, how teams work together, gives you some really practical insight on how to like what to do and what not to do when you're building teams. breaks down what what the secret is behind teams that work really well together and why teams don't work well together. So there's so much gold in this book that I thought it would be important to include it. So those are the five books that we think you should be reading this summer, you can read all five, you can pick one that addresses a specific challenge that you are facing. And I'm also curious about what other books you're reading this summer. So if you are part of the school leadership, reimagined Facebook group, and I hope you are, then we're going to have a feed there where you can, we're going to list links to all of these five books, but also asking you to share what books outside of education have had a huge impact on the work that you do an education so we can all learn from each other and and use these books to really address some of the persistent problems in education from a fresh perspective. So again, the five books will be in the school leadership reimagined Facebook group, we will also list them, and we'll have links to them that you can order them straight from Amazon, on the school, leadership reimagined homepage, so just go to school leadership, 263. 

And you can get a list of the books there as well. 

And then I'd love to hear if you've read these books, what do you think? How are you going to be using them? And what other books are you reading this summer? Because here's the thing. When you're a builder, you are constantly learning, you are constantly looking for fresh approaches, not because you're so excited about the newness of stuff, but because you realize that there's a lot that you don't know, and the more that you learn, and the more that you assimilate all that you've learned, the better you become at building a school, where 100% of your students are thriving, and 100% of your staff is aligned around that same vision to help 100% of your students thrive. So Happy reading this summer. I hope you pick up one of these books. I'm excited to hear what you learn from them. Those of you MBU, we'll be talking about some of these books, inside office hours, maybe we'll do another book study. If you guys want to do it. Just let me know inside of bu comments whether or not you'd like to do a book study and we can set something up. But all of us should be taking the summer to reflect, to think to encounter new ideas so that we can get better and better at what we do serve our students better serve our staffs better, like builders, 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 builder ship 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. Inside. 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 bill to ship University. Just go to build a ship and get started writing your school success story today. Hey, it's Robin here. And I want to thank you for listening to today's episode. And if you have a question about today's episode, you just want to keep the conversation going. Did you know that we had a school leadership reimagined Facebook group, all you need to do is go to Facebook, join the school leadership reimagined Facebook group now they're going to be a couple of questions that we asked at the beginning because we want to protect this group and make sure that we don't have any trolls come in and that it really is for people who are principals, assistant principals, district administrators, so make sure you answer those questions so you won't get in but then we can keep the conversation going. Plus we do a lot of great bonus content. I'm in there every single weekday so if you have a question or comment above the episode, let's continue the conversation. Join us at the school leadership reimagined Facebook group and they'll talk to you next time.

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