I started my summer with an ambitious stack of books that included titles ranging from Blood Done Sign My Name to Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses. I have yet to read all the books in my stack, but that is partly due to the fact that I keep adding books every time I finish one!

After reviewing my initial stack of books, Mrs. Stapleton kindly pointed out that I was not very balanced in my fiction and nonfiction titles; this is something we teach our students about so it was important that I “walk my talk.” It is a good thing I have friends like Mrs. Stapleton in my reading community because one of my favorite books this summer was And The Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini which was given to me by her and added to my stack.

As your children prepare to come back to school and share with us their adventures and learning that took place over the summer, I thought I would take some time to reflect on my own summer learning and share some of the big ideas from the books in my stack that I have finished or have begun reading.

This was a quick, thought-provoking book that I read on my Kindle and would recommend to all educators. Will Richardson challenges us to rethink school and traditional education to ensure we are preparing students to thrive in a very complex and interdependent  world. He stresses the need for schools to transition away from delivering information to children and instead focus on positioning them to discover knowledge and solve real-world problems. “Students need to be the ones asking the questions, working with others to find the answers, doing real work for real audiences, and adding to, not simply taking from the storehouse.”
As a working mother who is passionate about her family and her profession, this book left me feeling empowered and encouraged. Loved this book! There were so many lessons learned that it is hard to summarize in just a few short sentences. I particularly needed a reminder about the “Myth of Doing It All.”  No one can do it all, and we have to set priorities at home and at work; decide what it most important and put your time and energy into that. There was also a chapter on Seeing and Speaking Your Truth. This was important for me because it discussed authentic communication and the need to be honest and open. “Bring your whole self to work; cheer on women who want to sit at the table, seek challenges, and lean in to their careers; having a strong desire to be liked by everyone will hold you back–when you want to change things, you can’t please everyone; make others better as a result of your presence and make sure the impact lasts in your absence” were all keys phrases that stuck with me from this book.
Wow! This book evoked so many powerful emotions. As I read about the struggles faced during the civil rights movement in Oxford, N.C., and the impact the murder of Henry Marrow in 1970 had on so many people, I could not help but make parallels to current events that have likewise involved tragic outcomes. Our nation has struggled with race relations for centuries and continues to face challenges. Despite how far we have come, we are still trying to heal wounds caused by our ancestors while also trying to empower the next generation to respect and appreciate all people regardless of the differences that may exist. I am energized by our community’s willingness and commitment to engage in honest conversations about what it means to work and learn in a diverse and inclusive community and face the hard truths of our past. I am really looking forward to our faculty discussions about this book and our special guest speaker, Vernon Tyson, who is the father of the author.
This was an interesting read for me partly because I listened to it on my iPod while I took my walks at the beach. Paul Tough does an extraordinary job of sharing his thoughts and ideas with his readers and presents a large amount of research to support his work. The importance of noncognitive skills when predicting and determining success was apparent throughout. I paid particular attention to a chapter that discussed private schools and how we do our children an injustice when we try to shield them from any type of failure or bad experience. The capacity to handle failure and respond to setbacks was a key skill identified for future success. Our children need to build this capacity and need us to release control in order for this to happen.This perspective reminded me of our leadership framework. A key element associated with the concept of leading self involves giving our students space to fail, reflect, and grow. We believe that this process will ultimately cultivate an intrinsic motivation in our students to study, practice, learn, and grow.
Recently, my daughter and I were playing on the playground and a little girl came up and asked her where her mommy was. This experience served as a reminded that my road as a parent would need to include some extra resources because I am raising biracial children that are a beautiful blend of my husband’s and my ethnicities. My daughter is beginning to ask questions about skin color and differences she sees, and this book has given me some useful strategies to help affirm her identity and see herself in the world. It is broken up into age-specific chapters, so I have only read the ones related to the preschool years. Nevertheless, I would recommend this book to other families raising multiracial children or to families who have adopted children of a different race than other members of the family.
I am still in the early parts of this book so I will only briefly mention one of 10 new leadership skills Bob Johansen identifies as essential for future leaders in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world. Maker Instinct–the ability to exploit your inner drive to build and grow things, as well as connect with others in the making. How do we evoke the “commitment of a job and playful energy of a hobby” so students and teachers get engaged in the process of making the future; asking and trying to solve problems using their natural instinct to build and grow things?

I had a great summer and enjoyed the extra time to read some really great books!

What did you read this summer?

What did you learn?

 Do you have suggestions for what I should read next?

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