2023 Summer Reading List for School Leaders

The school year is in the rear view mirror and you’re reflecting on your leadership. What achievements stand out? Which aspects fell short of expectations? In which areas of leadership do you aspire to develop further? The pursuit of knowledge and personal growth remains a continuous journey for school leaders. Summer is the perfect time to dive into reading, gaining fresh insights and acquiring innovative techniques that foster expansion and advancement as a leader.

The following books come highly recommended by principals across the nation. Numerous titles are accessible in Audiobook format, making them perfect for the commute to school.

1. The Beekeeper: Pollinating Your Organization for Transformative Growth

by Katie P. Desiderio and Michael G. Frino

Buy here

In The Beekeeper, a team of renowned management and leadership professionals deliver an insightful and engaging exploration of what it means to place oneself at the core of learning and growth for the members of your organization. This story is told through the owner of a growing business. You’ll follow Carol as she adapts the way she leads, learns about those around her and completely changes her company’s culture.

You’ll learn practical strategies and techniques that you can immediately put in practice to change the culture on your campus. 

2. The IT Factor: Discover and Unleash Your Own Unique Leadership Potential

by John Morrison

Buy here

In The IT Factor, Morrison’s goal is to provide insights that will enable leaders to discover their own IT (Inspirational Transformational) Factor, unleash their full leadership potential and transform their school beyond expectations. Morrison interviewed internationally recognized school leaders from across Canada, representing much of the diversity of our country. These leaders recognized the difficulties facing students who were academically, socially and/or economically challenged. 

This book transcends conventional leadership theory. It challenges and guides the reader to examine their own core beliefs,- focuses on practical approaches to growing one’s own leadership capacity through the examination of real-life leadership success stories, – addresses many of the challenges faced by leaders in schools and organizations, while also providing practical solutions, and,-challenges and inspires the reader to examine their own situation, apply what they are learning, and grow their leadership capacity and success. Prepare to discover your own unique IT Factor, grow your leadership capacity, and bring about meaningful change for your students, staff and school community.

3. Culturize: Every Student. Every Day. Whatever It Takes.

by Jimmy Casas

Buy here

Eradicate Average! CULTURIZE Your School. Average schools don’t inspire greatness—and greatness is what our world needs if we are going to produce world-changing learners. In Culturize, author and education leader Jimmy Casas shares insights into what it takes to cultivate a community of learners who embody the innately human traits our world desperately needs, such as kindness, honesty, and compassion. His stories reveal how these “soft skills” can be honed while meeting and exceeding academic standards of twenty-first-century learning. You’ll learn…How to reach those who seem unreachableWhat to do when students disengage or drop out of schoolHow to ensure your learners feel cared for and empoweredHow to create an environment where all learners are challenged and inspired to be their best

4. Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy

by Jon Gordon

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The Energy Bus, an international best seller by Jon Gordon, takes readers on an enlightening and inspiring ride that reveals 10 secrets for approaching life and work with the kind of positive, forward thinking that leads to true accomplishment at work and at home. Jon infuses this engaging story with keen insights as he provides a powerful roadmap to overcome adversity and bring out the best in yourself and your team. When you get on The Energy Bus you’ll enjoy the ride of your life.

5. Powerless to Powerful: Leadership for School Change

by Charles Salina, Suzann Girtz, Joanie Eppinga

Buy here

Around the country, educators and administrators are working hard to make sure students pass standardized tests and graduate. At the same time, teachers are overwhelmed by ever-increasing demands. School reform often fails to yield actual positive change. School staff at many schools feel powerless and defeated as their efforts fall short  and they’re unable to meet unrealistic standards set for them by leaders. 

“This book describes a humanistic approach to implementing programs and systems that bring academic press, social support, and relational trust together in unique ways. Based on the understanding that old beliefs are changed by supporting new behaviors, the approach includes acquiring and using data in innovative and intentional ways. Properly conducted, the approach results in high morale, a sense of inclusiveness and success, increased efficacy, and improved metrics in all areas of education. The book includes the research and theory behind the approach, action steps for leaders, and lessons learned in the process—useful elements of success for any school.”

6. Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.

by Brené Brown 

Buy here

In this new book, Brown uses research, stories, and examples to showcase skills needed to lead effectively.

Brown writes, “One of the most important findings of my career is that daring leadership is a collection of four skill sets that are 100 percent teachable, observable, and measurable. It’s learning and unlearning that requires brave work, tough conversations, and showing up with your whole heart. Easy? No. Because choosing courage over comfort is not always our default. Worth it? Always. We want to be brave with our lives and our work. It’s why we’re here.”

7. Shifting the Monkey: The Art of Protecting Good People From Liars, Criers, and Other Slackers (A book on school leadership and teacher performance)

by Todd Whitaker

Buy here

You’ve heard the phrase “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”. In this case the disgruntled employee cries, yells and overall makes the most noise and gets the most attention. Their unwillingness to do their jobs often results in other teachers and staff members having the burden of the work shifted to “their backs”. In this book, Whitaker, helps school leaders find ways to put the focus on ways to rebalance the workload and reinvigorate, inspire and transform your organization

8. Radical Candor

by Kim Scott

Buy here

Author Kim Scott is a highly successful leader who has earned fame with the simple idea that “leaders don’t have to choose between being a pushover and a jerk.”  Using Radical Candor―avoiding the perils of Obnoxious Aggression, Manipulative Insincerity, and Ruinous Empathy―you can be kind and clear at the same time.” 

Radical Candor is about caring personally and challenging directly, about soliciting criticism to improve your leadership and also providing guidance that helps others grow. It focuses on praise but doesn’t shy away from criticism―to help you love your work and the people you work with.

Hopefully, one of these books will serve as a valuable resource, expanding your knowledge and offering fresh insights. By delving into their pages, you may find yourself equipped with a broader perspective, ready to embrace the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Teia Hoover Baker is an educator, published author, and entrepreneur. She is an innovative, devoted educator whose career has been dedicated to coordinating programs that support struggling learners. Her passion is meeting students where they are and guiding them to excel. Her main focus is always what is best for children. Teia holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism and a Master’s of Education. In her spare time, she enjoys being Lovie to her growing grandchildren.

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