Professional Reading Saturday: Ideas For An Effective Book Study

Hello, Principal Matters! friends.  This Saturday (as every Saturday) is time to look at the professional reading shelf, but with a twist.

Many principals and assistant principals ask for ideas for a book study.  While we offer a different book for your consideration here each week, there are some things worth thinking about when “shopping” for book study material.

  1.  Voice and Choice.  Learning is more likely when the learner has a voice in the process and a choice in the content or delivery.  What will be more effective at your school?  For your teachers to consider a number of books and help select the one that everyone reads?  Maybe you’d have more success if your faculty was reading different books based on their individual needs?  What if those folks got together in a reading club with others who were reading the same book?  There is no right or wrong way to do this; there are just varying degrees of effectiveness, but as always this is likely to be relative to the context of your school.  If this is the first time you’ve done a book study, you might want to use this opportunity to model what you’re after before setting everyone off with full autonomy.  Then again, maybe it’s just what you need to do.  That’s the fun of school leadership; your analysis of your school’s current status is always critical to success.
  2. Focus, Please.   If you are to read the same book faculty-wide, perhaps it should be correlated to your school’s focus in the upcoming year.  It would be wise to determine what your top priority will be for next year before you select a book for your study.  If you are going to work on school climate, then Fish: A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results might be your jam.  You would also do well to read The Energy Bus.  Maybe it’s getting your teams and PLCs to work more effectively?  How about The Five Dysfunctions of A Team?  The most important part is to determine your need before picking your read.  You lose credibility with your teachers when you don’t consolidate your efforts in a thematic manner.  Take time to plan it, or as mentioned in the previous paragraph, give your teachers the opportunity to identify their own needs.
  3. Why?  Purpose of the Project   Why?  Why do you want your team to read a book together?  What is the goal of this effort?  Don’t just do things because you’ve heard others do them; go into them with your desired results in mind from the beginning.   Many of the wonderful teachers we have across the fruited plain are busy beyond words, overwhelmed, and stressed.  Don’t let something good (book study) become “one more thing.”  The way you frame this effort will have a lot to do with its success.  Make sure you not only know what you want them to do, but why you want them to do it.  How will this book study impact teacher performance and student achievement?

Here are some suggestions for topics that might be your “big thing” for next school year.  You can find a YouTube video on most any book, so check it out before you read it yourself, but read it before you share it!  Make sure you know what you’re asking others to read.  Your conversations with your people will be much more effective if you’ve read it before.   Some of these books have been featured here on Professional Reading Saturday; some are still waiting in the wings.  All of them are good books for you and your team if they match up with your needs!  Enjoy.


If your focus is on:                                                              You may be looking for:

School Climate                                                                     The Energy Bus;   Fish!:  

Relationships                                                                        Whale Done! 

Customer Service Experience                                          Raving Fans

Tightening Your Focus                                                       The One Thing

Working As A Team                                                            The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Time Management                                                             Eat That Frog!

Improved Instruction                                                       The Secrets of Timeless Teachers

PLCs                                                                                       Professional Learning Communities At Work

Engagement                                                                        The Element 

Passion of Teaching                                                          Teach Like A Pirate; Kids Deserve It

Motivation                                                                           Drive;  To Sell Is Human

Power of Questions                                                           A More Beautiful Question

Innovation                                                                          The Innovator’s Mindset

Purpose                                                                                Start With Why


NOTE:  If you have a growth area that you’re looking to match a book with and it isn’t covered above, please contact me and I’ll share a suggestion!  Thanks, Mark 





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