Summer Reading for School Leaders to Level Up

Reading is fundamental to growth and leadership development. But it does matter what you read. If you pick the right books, make some plans to implement some of it, and connect with someone, you can level up your leadership. (I previously featured 10 books to breakthrough) But there’s always more books!

Summer was made for relaxation but there is no time more open for learning and reflection. Free from IEP meetings, compliance paperwork, and evaluations. You have nothing but space and opportunity.

So bust a move and read something!

why should you even read?

For starters, you don’t know everything and reading is one way to learn. Conferences are another (Here’s 7 to check out this summer). The world doesn’t change much every year, but there is plenty of keen insight that is shared. You don’t want to be behind and become obsolete. You could end up the guy in the office who just keeps the facilities going and watches the security cameras all day. Not me! If you want to be an instructional leader, it helps to sharpen you equity edge and you can learn from the many studies and anecdotes. The effective leader is a constant learner and blogs don’t cut it. Sure this is pretty good, (wink) but books, conferences, and seminars are where it’s at.

Things I plan to read

  • The Power of Moments by the Heath Brothers (link)
    I would read anything by these guys. I have read their past 3 books, one featured in a past blog post, and although it usually comes from the business sector, it’s usually bomb and very useful in our schools. (Here’s my BOOK REVIEW)
  • The 4 Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive by Patrick Lencioni (link)
    Recommended by my boss’ boss’ boss. Nuff said. I need to read this one.
  • Leverage Leadership by Paul Bambrick-Santoyo (link)
    I have seen this on a number of lists and I will give it a read, at least skim to start!
  • Transforming Schools Using Project Based Learning by Bob Lenz(link)
    We are going big on PBL next year, and although I was a PBL teacher, in a PBL school, actually founded by Bob Lenz, I still want to brush up to support my summer conference learning. It’s not just about PBL in classes. It’s about transforming the school.
  • The Power of Protocols by Joseph McDonald  (link)
    Lord knows we hate but need protocols. This was recommended by my coach and I am down to study up on how to use them better to maximize adult learning time and breath life back into your meetings.
  • The Art of Coaching Teams by Elena Aguilar (link)
    This has been on my list for too long. I know there’s 2 other books, but I’m starting with this one, because we need our teams to be strong. 
  • Transforming School Culture: How to Overcome Staff Division by Anthony Muhammad (link)
    Recommended by my boss, and oh so good. I skimmed already and its so useful. He talks about the 4 types of staff and how to approach each. We need to know how to bring people together and how to approach each person. Everyone has their strengths. We need to harness them to move our schools forward. (Here’s my BOOK REVIEW)
  • Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi (link)
    For the soul, and fuel for the fire. We must know what we are up against and why we need to fight so hard for educational justice. This was recommended by 2 close homies. We must infuse our work with anti-racism, because the alternative is not an option.

Things I need to Re-Read

  1. Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain by Zaretta Hammond (blog post)
  2. The Listening Leader by Shane Safir (blog post)
  3. For white Folks Who Teach in the Hood by Chris Emdin
  4. Pushout by Monique Morris

Before you start reading

Determine what you are reading for. Is this for your leadership, improving professional structures, or for your spirit. What do you need? If your soul is hungry, feed it! If your literacy muscles are weak, you better start bench-pressing some books homie.

You don’t need to read the chapters in order; look at the table of contents. There might be a chapter that’s more relevant to your purpose. Peep the appendix, because there might be some jewels if you dig through the crates.

What do you do with your reading?

Mark it up and add notes. Talk back to the text just like you want students to do. Add post its, because you might not return. I like to add notes to my google keep app, write down key quotes, and write directly in my daily composition notebook.

Honestly, I can’t read without a pen in my hand. Pull out your strategic plan and see if you can refine, while reading. Ask yourself: where does this fit? how does this impact my leadership, professional learning, the student experience?

You don’t have to read everything.

Just pick a book and get busy.


What’s on your reading list?


Recommended by my homies

  • The hate you give
  • Homecoming
  • School Talking
  • Color Mute
  • Racial Literacy
  • Onward
  • The Guide for a white Women who Teach Black Boys
  • So You Want to Talk About Race
  • Promoting Racial Literacy In Schools
  • Hope and Healing in Urban Education
  • Teaching for Black Lives
  • Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies
  • The Long Haul
  • First Strike
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