On My Nightstand: Books Prizmah Staff Are Reading
The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues, by Patrick Lencioni
I always find the fables that Lencioni writes so easy to read and easy to understand. This book is no different. Here, his character Jeff Shanley develops a set of core leadership principles which, along with his deep sense of collaboration with his leadership team, helped their business overcome challenges. The “three essential virtues” for an ideal team player, Humble, Hungry, and Smart (about people), have already impacted my own practice and have become a part of the work I do with leaders of schools. To be able to distill and assess what we need from others on our team is incredibly useful. To reflect on our own practice in these three virtues (with an assessment tool included) is powerful. Leadership teams that read this fable together can openly talk about their strengths and areas for growth, advancing their own work as team members.
Beyond Discipline, by Alfie Kohn
As classroom teachers, our senses are bombarded all day with the needs of our students. Alfie Kohn pushes us to think about the choices we make: how we react to our students, how we create expectations in the classroom, and how we can honor our students all to develop a community. This community should reflect choice, understanding and growth. This community should be the reflection of our students’ needs and not ours. Kohn brutally reviews discipline systems based on the carrot and the stick, rewards and punishment. He stresses that this manner of “managing” a classroom will not create the community we seek. We have to always be asking the question why—why are these my expectations in the classroom, why should my students buy into this community and whose needs am I thinking of on a daily basis. If you have made it a goal to be reflective in your practice, this short, easy-to-read book will help you begin to ask the right questions.
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, by Adam Grant
If you have ever had a big idea, chances are that at some point you've thought, “If it's really such a great idea, someone would have thought of it already.” Adam Grant's newest book gives ideators the confidence to overcome the hurdles that often prevent our ideas from seeing the light of day. By citing case studies of ideas and inventions that had total buy-in but were commercially unsuccessful, and record-breaking businesses that no one believed could work, Grant offers the data and motivation that will push you to look boldly beyond what already exists and bring into your world something truly new and meaningful.
Donna Von Samek
Creativity Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration, by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace
Creativity Inc. is one of my favorite go-to management guides. Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar and current president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, shares compelling examples and anecdotes illustrating how he’s built an innovative and creative culture. Through tales of success, and perhaps more interestingly the failures and complications along the way, Catmull’s lessons derived from the organizational history and development of animated film can be easily transferred to the classroom, boardroom and faculty meeting. Imagine an aura of creativity permeating through the halls. Creativity Inc. challenges the reader to take bold leaps, build a great team and embrace change that is invaluable and vital to innovation and success. A must read for any leader, creative thinker or Pixar fan!