pause. reflect. grace. grateful.

I suddenly find myself with an extra 15 minutes in the day today and decided to take it to just do a blog check-in. I realized I haven’t put up a Currents: Listens & Reads since August. I’ve read a TON and listened a TON, just haven’t codified it. This new school adventure has been a whirlwind since stepping onto campus in early July. Here are the bullet points of reflection thus far:

  • Being the new kid on the block is tough–I have been given the umbrella of mercy over and over again from everyone–but perhaps, not given it to myself as I want to learn all the things right away and expect myself to. (#perfectionist)
  • 357 kid names is a lot, but I offer thanks for my flashcards and our class photos to help me. Also, thanks to the older kids who say, “I’m so-and-so, in case you forgot.”
  • Outdoor ed trips are the BEST.
  • Having a team that works at a high level, all the time is simultaneously intellectually stimulating and exhausting. I’m so grateful for both.
  • My game is upped. And only going uppier. (Yes, I made up that word.)
  • All of these teams amaze me on a daily basis. They are kid and learning centered. They want to grow.
  • Crafting how to BE in the work rather than how to DO the work (thanks Mom for the challenging words) is going to take the whole year.
  • Never underestimate the power of a walk around campus, a dance break, a hug from an 8-year-old, an affirming tweet, an aha moment in math, and READING to children.
  • Making time to pause and reflect, even in a frenetic day/week/month/year where everything is new, MATTERS. So I’ll try to do better.

I get to cherish childhood, empower students and teachers, deepen educational experience, build foundations, and exhibit my own curiosity and creativity every day here. For this, I am thankful beyond measure.

PS-In case you’re wondering….here are some Currents.

READ: Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. (stop everything and read this book.)

READ: the books of Christopher Paul Curtis (to keep up with 5th and 6th) as well as The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley

LISTEN: Aspen Ideas To Go: How to Lead a More Meaningful Life at Work,  featuring my intellectual guru, Adam Grant

 

 

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Currents: Listens & Reads

Listens/Reads

The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels by Jon Meacham: Anyone who knows my twitter knows I have a huge intellectual crush on Professor Meacham. He is regularly on my preferred morning show and he offers insight and anecdotes to connect our past to our present. This book was a balm in turbulent times. It acknowledges some of the darker parts of our Nation’s history and how we have come through with the guidance of leadership, faith, and risk. I chose to listen to it, despite owning the hardback, and was so glad I did as Dr. Meacham was the narrator for both the introduction and conclusion. I recommend this not only to teachers and students of history, but to all who believe that an informed citizenry is what moves a country forward.

Those Who Can Do Can’t Teach, New York Times, Adam Grant: This article is specifically focused on higher education but I believe it’s message is applicable to k-12 education. It honors the fact that the best teachers aren’t always those for whom things came easy. Those who are so highly successful in their fields cannot necessarily translate their content knowledge to students. This reiterated the need for educators to be life long students of educational practice in addition to our content. Flexibility in learning and growing is a key trait to teaching others to learn and grow.

Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast-Creating a Culture of Continual Improvement, Part I: Strong leaders focus on building strong culture. As a leader, we must evaluate strong cultural practices and incorporate good ideas from across the board. A strong leader knows the best ideas for culture do not have to be there own. Andy offers a template for shaping strong culture and once I listen to Part II, I’ll let you know more about strategies for implementing the template.

  1. Name It–“Continuous Improvement”
  2. Brand It–Phrase, idea, sentence, slogan that labels your goal of continuous improvement that becomes of the organizational vernacular. (“Be Together, Not the Same”)
  3. Wear It–Model the characterization of culture. The leader must be seen living the culture. It is what a leader does that makes all the difference.
  4. Teach It–You have to intentionally and consistently teach what you want within the culture of an organization.
  5. Institutionalize It–Make it a regular part of your organization. Make habits for continual improvement
  6. Recognize It-When you see it, reward it.

Kid Reads

Part of my new role includes the bonus of getting to read to kiddos every week. I’ve had a blast sharing great books with kids. Here are a few I’ve shared to start the year.

Have a great day in your world! No matter what you do or where you go, remember to be kind.

Currents: Listens & Reads

Listens

I have been a fan of the Indigo Girls since the 90’s and their new album with the University of Colorado Symphony is simply delicious. If you need a good car jam or a soul revival…check it out. (PS-so excited to see them live at Chastain Park for my birthday present to myself.)

the hate u give (audiobook): I tried this book when it first came out and could not connect to the writing style. My former school is reading this as their faculty read and multiple colleagues suggested I try again. This time, I thought I would go the audiobook route and I’m so glad I did. This book is relevant, challenging, with richly written characters. It is a very good provocation for important and hard conversations. I think it would be an excellent family listen for households with 13+ children. (It has explicit language but nothing an 8th grader hasn’t heard before.)

Reads

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H Pink: One of the selections for Trinity Summer Reads, I read this book using the practice I started recently of reading and listening. I’ve found that this has helped me truly stay connected to non-fiction. I enjoyed some of the anecdotes from this research-rich book. What I found most beneficial was the “Time Hackers Handbook” found at the end of each chapter. I was most drawn to the chapter on Endings as it made both personal and professional connections. I had a lovely moment of convergence in reading this book as he addressed elevation moments. This parallels the themes found in the Heath Bros. The Power of Moments. I can’t wait to see how our faculty draw these types of correlations as they explore what they’ve read this summer.

I finally finished Boundaries for Leaders by Dr. Henry Cloud and I can’t offer enough gratitude for this book. I recommend this book to anyone who is in either formal or informal leadership roles. It offers really practical advice for leading with empathy, self-care, and clear boundaries. As I move into my second division headship, this book is providing a lot of sources of both reflection and inspiration. “Leaders get what they create and what they allow.” This is going to be on the forefront of my mind in the weeks ahead. Thanks to my friend, Kay Sasser Jacoby–it will literally be in front of my eyes.

createallow

This weekend, I’m going to tackle finishing Big Potential by Shawn Achor and also finish a little fiction.

 

 

 

 

 

Currents: Listens & Reads

Listens

Apparently, I’ve been out of the loop this year and missed the incredible work happening on Broadway. I’m now binge listening to The Band’s Visit  and the newest revivial of my favorite musical of all time, Carousel.

I’m just starting to dig into Shawn Achor’s second book, Big Potential, and in the midst of unpacking so many boxes, I listened to his TED talk on Happiness at Work. This is an important reminder for me–we make the choice to be happy and our work is profoundly impacted by this mindset.

I also listened to the TED talk from Jason B. Rosenthal on grief and loss. If you don’t know the love story of Jason and his wife, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, please read her modern love article from the New York Times before watching the talk. There are so many applications for his message, but the one that sticks with me the most is final charge:

“I would like to offer you what I was given: a blank of sheet of paper. What will you do with your intentional empty space, with your fresh start?”

As I begin a new position and a new stop on the journey, I love this thought of starting with a blank sheet of paper. The same could be said with each new summer or each new school year and I hope we make intentional decisions to live and love fully.

Reads

In my goal of doing a bit of easy fiction, I picked up small great things by Jodi Picoult on multiple friends. I have never actually read any of her work so I was pleased on multiple levels by this direct look at racism, white supremacy, and a raw confrontation of implicit bias. While I was less pleased with tied with a bow ending, I found the epiphany scene to be so very real. (You’ll have to read it to understand!) Be prepared to spend the last two hundred pages in one spot because you won’t want to put it down. (PS-If you like this book, I highly recommend the work of my favorite author, Chris Bohjalian. Start with Midwives.)

This throwback article from Jessica Lahey in The Atlantic is a great reminder for all of our families as we head into a summer. Play is the way! If a child is bored, great! Let them find their way to creative and unstructured play.

What are you reading or listening to these days that strikes your fancy, challenges you, or nourishes your soul?

Summer Family Listens & Reads

A wonderful parent just asked for my recommendations for a family read this summer for a road-trip. I was so honored that they asked my opinion. I am a complete podcast junkie and have also started to get into audiobooks. Here are some of my recommendations:

Podcasts for the Family Road Trip:

Podcasts for the Teens and Adults

Great Family Reads (these are in book form, but I bet there might be audiobooks, too.)

Audiobooks for Adults

What would you recommend to your readers/listeners?

Commencement Season 2018

I absolutely love commencement speeches. I find they provide such beautiful nuggets of wisdom and beauty. Here are some of my favorites:

Tim Cook, Duke University

Abby Wambach, Barnard College

Hillary Clinton, Yale College Class Day

Jake Tapper, UMASS-Amherst

And just for kicks, here is the speech I gave at our Closing Ceremony last week.

What has inspired you this commencement season?

Update May 24, 2018: Don’t miss out on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at Harvard Class Day and Justin Trudeau at NYU.

 

Currents: Listens & Reads

Listens:

It’s Been a Minute podcast: Meg Wolitzer on her book The Female Persuasion- I loved her book The Interestings and have not cracked the spine on this one yet, but I found this conversation really relatable. She taps into the values of mentorship. As someone who is still searching for a mentor, it reminded me to keep moving forward on that quest.

The Knowledge Project podcast from Farnam Street: I stumbled on this website from Shane Parrish this week and am now obsessed with this podcast. I have listened to several podcasts featuring Barbara Oakley and this one is no exception in brilliance. About 40 minutes it, Dr. Oakley and I divert in our views, specifically in memorization, but I appreciate that she is challenging me to think deeply.

The Meaning of Nuance from the Pantsuit Politics podcast was highly engaging. Regardless of your political affiliation, this episode provides a look at the way Spaceship Media is engaging a bi-partisan discussion (started in Alabama) that allows for nuance. In our age of shouting and memes, I really appreciate the way the offer insight into the value of nuance, especially in challenging conversations. Let’s keep talking and keep the doors to grey areas of all conversations wide open.

Reads:

I’m about halfway through Boundaries for Leaders by Dr. Henry Cloud. It has given me the phrase, “ridiculously in charge” to consider as I reflect on closing up my first leadership role and moving into my second. The two essential boundaries that are sticking with me right now are: what you create and what you allow. These provide the framework for a culture that can thrive, survive, or fail. Several chapters in, I recommend this to anyone in a leadership role or pursuing one.

From my new found resource, Farnam Street: Go Fast and Break Things: The Difference Between Reversible and Irreversible Decisions I tend to be a significant overthinker or an impulsive underthinker. Being intentional in these types of decision takes practice and skill. They can also have deep and wide consequences if chosen incorrectly. A good read for a leadership team to consider.