Book Club Choices for the Summer

A few weeks back, I pitched the idea of a summer professional book club to the administrators in our district.  Knowing that schedules are hectic and people like to travel in the summer, myself included, I didn’t expect too much of a response.  All of the building leadership is headed to BLC this summer, and we thought it might be a great idea to begin getting ourselves on the same page.  Surprisingly, and thankfully, most did and we solicited some advice for some summer reading material from the twitterverse at large. 

I put out a survey to the group with a list of titles and asked them to rate them according to preference.  Here is the original list:

When the dust settled after the survey, the group chose one clearly above the rest, and two others tied for second.  Moral Leadership will be our summer reading choice for the group, with A Whole New Mind and Failure is not an Option as stand-ins.  I’d like to thank the twitterverse, and especially Bill Ferriter and Chris Lehman for their suggestions, as the ones you recommended were all high on the choice list. 

Now, for the really serious question: format?  How do you successfully run a book discussion with administrators?  If anyone has done something like this, please chime in with some suggestions.  I would like to make it loose, but still have some group accountability.

7 thoughts on “Book Club Choices for the Summer

  1. Hey Pat,

    Jazzed that my list was somewhat helpful to you—and even more jazzed that you’re doing a book study with Admins! Sometimes I think admins get so wrapped up in day to day operations that they forget to set aside time to learn on their own.

    As to format, I’d recommend that you incorporate a digital element into your book study. By doing so, you’ll accomplish several different tasks:

    1. You’ll make participation asynchronous—which means people can participate regardless of time, schedule or location.

    2. You’ll have a digital record of participation—so you get a measure of accountability you may not otherwise have had.

    3. People who may not speak up in person (because they’re not the senior admin in the room) may speak up online—where they have less threat and more time to think through their comments before speaking.

    4. Your admins will be learning about the very digital tools and collaborative behaviors that they want to see in their own classrooms. After your experience with them, they’re more likely to go back to their building and push for digital learning because they’ve seen the potential benefits first-hand.

    I’d use Voicethread. Pull a bunch of quotes out of whatever text that you read and use those as stimuli for slides. They essentially become conversation starters.

    Check out this one that I did recently on Web 2.0 and 21st Century learning:

    Or this one that I did on PLCs:

    In both situations, I ended up hooking admins on the value of digital forums for conversation.

    (The quotes started as PowerPoint slides that I then uploaded to VT. If you want the template, email me and I’ll send it. Then you can just fill in new quotes.)

    So whaddya’ think? Will your admins go for something like this?

    Should you do it even if they don’t? Is it time to push electronic forums for conversations into the higher levels of our district?


  2. This is a terrific list, PJ and most any of the choices would have produced rich book discussions. I’m kind of partial to “Here Comes Everybody” because Bill F. turned me onto it and he’s a Teacher Leaders Network member, where I hang out. So is Rick Wormeli, and his summarization book is, I think, a kind of hidden classic.

    So many books, so little time. Next summer, maybe Bill’s book?


  3. Bill,

    I love the idea, especially since we are going to be riddled by schedule issues all summer long with vacations and such. This group is somewhat savvy that way, so creating a digital record might work well.

    Don’t know if I fully thanked you for that post. I used a lot of them to pass along to middle and high school departments (I cover the humanities areas) in addition to the admin group. Great list, including the non-education related topics. I will pitch the idea for the voicethread after finals are over and we can get our focus going.

  4. Patrick,

    From our district, doing a whole book got to be a bit much. We assigned a book to each person who read it and then facilitated a chapter discussion on the chapter that had the most significance/meaning to them. The facilitator brought the dessert of their choosing. At the end of the session, the facilitator got to pick the next person. We were conscious not to create more paperwork or projects for our already overburdened administrators!

    Good luck-


  5. Thanks, Barry. Since we have three books to choose from, I will throw it out to the group as an idea for the summer. We are all going to BLC, so it might be a good idea to get an overview of all three titles before then.

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