Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Suggested summer reading for teachers and parents

It is not uncommon for schools to assign summer reading to students. Some schools even have summer reading for teachers. It is less common for schools to make summer reading suggestions for parents.

This year, I am making a suggested reading list for teachers, but also inviting parents to read the same titles. I have either read or am in the process of reading each. A brief description is included.

If you have read any of these, please feel free to comment.  I am also interested in other suggestions, so feel free to make those as well.

Descriptions from Amazon.com.


Seven Secrets of the Savvy School Leader: A Guide to Surviving and Thriving by Robert Evans
From the Inside Flap

School leaders today are working harder than ever, longer than ever, dealing with ever greater complexity, and sacrificing ever more of their personal and family time to their work. At the same time they are subject to increasing criticism, second-guessing, and unrealistic expectations. Adding to this crisis in leadership is the fact that an entire generation of school leaders is retiring, many of them early, and the number of candidates applying to replace them is plummeting. How can we make school leadership more doable and offer hope to both experienced and beginning leaders?

Seven Secrets of the Savvy School Leader tackles this challenge head on. Written by Robert Evans, noted school consultant, former teacher, and psychologist, this book offers concrete help and inspiration for anyone serving as or considering becoming a school administrator. From his experience with many of America's most savvy school leaders, Evans describes the qualities, characteristics, and behaviors that lead to success in today's uncertain environment.
As practical as it is readable, Seven Secrets of the Savvy School Leader offers solid advice for overcoming even the most daunting of school leadership challenges, from dealing with the innate tensions that face all administrators, to learning how to tell the difference between dilemmas and problems, to guidance on where leaders should put their focus. The book also reveals why following the latest leadership fad can lead to ineffective and misguided decisions and practices.
For anyone who wants to serve schools in a leadership position, this book provides an essential survival guide and a road map for excellence.

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen

From Publishers Weekly

Bringing together the insights of such diverse disciplines as law, organizational behavior, cognitive, family and social psychology and "dialogue" studies, Stone, Patton and Heen, who teach at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Negotiation Project, illustrate how to handle the challenges involved in effectively resolving "difficult conversations," whether in an interpersonal, business or political context. While many of their points are simplistic: don't ignore your feelings, consider the other person's intentions, take a break from the situation; they're often overlooked in stressful moments. Most useful are the strategies for disarming the impulse to lay blame and for exploring one's own contribution to a tense situation. Also of value are specific recommendations for bringing emotions directly into a difficult discussion by talking about them and paying attention to the way they can subtly inform judgments and accusations. If these recommendations aren't followed, the authors contend, emotions will seep into the discussion in other, usually damaging, ways. Stone, Patton and Heen illustrate their points with anecdotes, scripted conversations and familiar examples in a clear, easy-to-browse format.
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

From Publishers Weekly

Mindset is "an established set of attitudes held by someone," says the Oxford American Dictionary. It turns out, however, that a set of attitudes needn't be so set, according to Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford. Dweck proposes that everyone has either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. A fixed mindset is one in which you view your talents and abilities as... well, fixed. In other words, you are who you are, your intelligence and talents are fixed, and your fate is to go through life avoiding challenge and failure. A growth mindset, on the other hand, is one in which you see yourself as fluid, a work in progress. Your fate is one of growth and opportunity. Which mindset do you possess? Dweck provides a checklist to assess yourself and shows how a particular mindset can affect all areas of your life, from business to sports and love. The good news, says Dweck, is that mindsets are not set: at any time, you can learn to use a growth mindset to achieve success and happiness. This is a serious, practical book. Dweck's overall assertion that rigid thinking benefits no one, least of all yourself, and that a change of mind is always possible, is welcome.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink

From Publishers Weekly

According to Pink (A Whole New Mind), everything we think we know about what motivates us is wrong. He pits the latest scientific discoveries about the mind against the outmoded wisdom that claims people can only be motivated by the hope of gain and the fear of loss. Pink cites a dizzying number of studies revealing that carrot and stick can actually significantly reduce the ability of workers to produce creative solutions to problems. What motivates us once our basic survival needs are met is the ability to grow and develop, to realize our fullest potential. Case studies of Google's 20 percent time (in which employees work on projects of their choosing one full day each week) and Best Buy's Results Only Work Environment (in which employees can work whenever and however they choose—as long as they meet specific goals) demonstrate growing endorsement for this approach. A series of appendixes include further reading and tips on applying this method to businesses, fitness and child-rearing. Drawing on research in psychology, economics and sociology, Pink's analysis—and new model—of motivation offers tremendous insight into our deepest nature.

Seven Secrets of the Savvy School Leader: A Guide to Surviving and Thriving  Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us  Mindset: The New Psychology of Success  Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
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