It’s summer time here in the US and so it’s time for our annual Mindsteps Summer Reading list (you can find previous lists here, here, and here). Each year, I recommend 5 books that have had the biggest impact on my thinking over the course of the year.
I purposely choose books that are outside of education not because I don’t believe in the power of education-focused professional resources (heck, I WRITE these kinds of books!), but because I want to share what’s being published in other industries that have direct impact on how we think about teaching, leading, and learning. My hope is that these books will expand your thinking the way that they have expanded mine, and perhaps spark a new idea or two that you can use in your own practice.
Now, onto this year’s list!
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg:
2 chapters into this book, and my mind was already blown. Duhigg is an engaging story teller who can take complicated scientific discoveries and explain them in a way that makes them seem almost obvious. But beyond just being a really good read, this book is full of practical ideas about how to use habits as a way to shift culture, (In fact, our new leadership model borrows heavily from the insights shared in this book), as well as ways to develop new habits in ourselves and in our students. I am already playing with how Duhigg’s insights on habit can help teachers create better classroom routines, help students complete homework each day, and manage behavior in (and out of) the classroom.
Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time by Rory Vaden
This book is as counterintuitive as it’s title implies, and yet it contains some of the best “time management” advice I’ve ever come across. I put “time management” in quotes because one of the first lessons you’ll learn in this book is that “time management” is not the goal – in fact, Vaden argues that it’s a limited strategy. Instead, he introduces the concept of “multiplying your time” where you do something today that buys you MORE time tomorrow. He then lays out a process for filtering new demands on your time and showing you how to best prioritize incoming tasks in a way that allows you to create more time to do the things that really feed you without sacrificing results or putting you further behind.
Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen.
If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of difficult feedback, then you know how hard it can be to take. In this book, Stone and Heen explain why receiving feedback is so important and yet so difficult to do and they offer a framework to help take on any feedback (“even when it is off base, unfair, poorly delivered, and frankly you’re not in the mood”) and handle it with grace. Rather than being defensive or dismissive of feedback, the authors show you take control of a feedback conversation in a way that makes it more useful to you and how to act on the feedback you receive in a way that makes you better.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
This book was recommended to me by someone I trust, but still, I approached it with a degree of skepticism. I wasn’t really interested in a woo woo self help book. And yet, once I dived in, I found Gilbert’s insight into creativity, inspiration, and curiosity not only helped me understand and embrace my own creative process a little more, it also reminded me of the importance of protecting the creative process in the classroom. Creativity, she reminds us, takes courage. And as educators faced with almost constant standardization, we need to have the courage to protect and nurture the inherent creativity of our students. Her advice on how to live our most creative lives also has so many implications for what we need to do differently in schools if we want to help students remain curious, creative, mindful, and passionate learners.
Rising Strong: The Reckoning, The Rumble, The Revolution by Brene Brown.
I first “met” Brene Brown from her hugely famous TED talk about shame and have been a fan ever since. Her latest book explores what makes some people who have suffered failure get back up again. With all the conversations about developing resilience in children that are happening lately, Brown offers a clear process for helping students “rise strong” in the face of adversity. And yet, what I appreciate most about Brown’s advice is that is hugely practical – which means that is also recognizes the messiness of real life and offers “I’ve been there” advice that is rooted in reality. A great read if you are struggling to help students learn how to be vulnerable, to try hard things, and to recover and even grow from failure, Brown’s book might just give you the insight you need to help your students (and perhaps even your colleagues, ahem) become more resilient.
I’d love to hear what you’ll be reading this summer. Please share your favorite professional learning resources in the comments section below!