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Book Blog: Impressive books at Summer Institute Print E-mail

sara-johnson-2006.jpgby Dr. Sara Johnson, Director of Human Resources, Lincoln County School District

One of the great things about the COSA Superintendent’s Summer Institute was the impressive Barnes and Noble Book Seller’s on-site book store!  There were stacks of terrific books to browse at every break – and the books were relevant to our work in education.  Here is a list of the books I picked up (and by ordering through the COSA/BN links below, you may receive a 20% discount):

school-principal-managing-i.jpgSchool Principal: Managing in Public, by Dan C. Lortie

School Principal is a new book – published May 2009.  If you have worked as a principal, it is almost painful to read this book because it causes one to reflect on the extreme exertion and intense struggle this work can generate.  However, the best books bring about emotion and this one certainly does.  It is a top-notch book for those investigating and considering building leadership.  Also, this work is reinforcing and enlightening for those already serving as principals.  It describes the role accurately – and also explains the history and reasons behind some of the things principals do.  This is an interesting, important book for the pre-service principal as well as the principal-in-service.

priority-leadership.jpgPriority Leadership: Generating School and District Improvement through Systemic Change, by Robert Hess & James Robinson

Priority Leadership outlines the actions and attitudes leaders should take to bring about change and district improvement. Each chapter provides an overview of the journey of a leader in guiding improvement. Hess and Robinson have written this practical book for educators who want to bring about positive change that will lead to measurable improvement; they follow the pathway established by current authors and researchers such as Doug Reeves and Jeff Sprague.  An interesting note: Hess and Robinson tell the Lebanon, Oregon story.  If you’re interested in a “local” story, you can read it in this book.  

learning-from-the-best.jpgLearning from the Best: Lessons from Award Winning Superintendents, edited by Sandra K. Harris

Through the content of this book, the reader gets a realistic look at the demands a superintendent faces.  Award-winning superintendents discuss leadership, community interactions, consistent change, and strategies for effective school reform.  I found this book useful and helpful – and an interesting read. There are many applicable ideas to glean.

superintendent-as-ceo.jpgThe Superintendent as CEO: Standards-Based Performance, by John R. Hoyle, Lars, Bjork, Virginia Collier, and Thomas Glass

The authors carefully articulate the details of the Superintendency.  It serves as a solid preparation guide, describing the multifaceted aspects of the superintendent’s role. A superintendent might find portions of this book helpful as a board teaching tool.  The authors examine:  

  • District vision and school culture
  • Politics and school governance
  • Internal and external communication
  • Organizing for high performance
  • Curriculum design and delivery
  • Human resource management for student learning

Paul Houston, well known author and former director of AASA gives a thumbs up:

"John Hoyle and his co-authors have done the impossible-they have produced a textbook on the Superintendency that is both research based and readable. They have also bridged the gap between the world of those who believe everything is measurable and those who see leadership as spiritual and learning as a work in progress. This is a major addition to the field of educating school system leaders."
Paul Houston, Executive Director, American Association of School Administrators

see-me-after-class.jpgSee Me After Class:  Advice for Teachers by Teachers, by Roxanna Elden

A witty – and extremely truthful piece.  The author tells amusing stories and I found myself laughing throughout this book.  I believe new teachers would truly appreciate this as a gift.  I read over 30 “5 Star” reviews at book sellers sites – it received nothing lower than a 4 star rating from any reader – very rare ratings!  Here is a clear synopsis of the book:

This is the book that will save rookies’ souls when they lose the strength to save their classrooms. With tales from more than one hundred veterans from across the country, teachers everywhere will find themselves laughing, maybe crying, and definitely taking notes. Readers at the toughest schools will be relieved to find a resource that deals specifically with their struggles instead of insisting that all teaching situations are the same. This is the book that will keep the great teachers of the future from quitting before they become great.
Many new teachers have been waiting for someone to break the “stay positive!” code and talk about the parts of the job that make teachers question their career choices. While other books cover the eyes of readers to keep from scaring them, this one asks teachers to be brutally honest about how tough teaching truly is and whether the rewards are still worth it. The answer is yes.

everything-new-teacher-book.jpgThe Everything New Teacher Book, by Melissa Kelly

provides suggestions to new teachers on how to take off in their new role as teacher.  The book is designed to give new teachers an inside understanding of a working classroom.  It offers advice on:

  • Set goals
  • Discipline students
  • Address prejudice, controversy, and school violence
  • Create valid assessments
  • Maximize lesson time
  • Manage their time and their health
The good thing about this book is that it is a tool to support teachers in upper grades – and many books are focused on elementary so it fills a gap.  As a principal, I would put this on the resource bookshelf – but probably not purchase it as a tool to give to my staff.  Think carefully before adding this to your collection.

My recommendations Must read books for this month:

power-of-small.jpgbe-the-hero.jpgThe Power of Small:  Why Little Things Make All the Difference, by Linda Kaplan Thaler, and Robin Koval
Be the Hero:  Three Powerful Ways to Overcome Challenges in Work and Life, by Noah Blumenthal and Marshall Goldsmith

Both of these would be great to use with your staff or team at the start of the new school year.


Sara Johnson is a former Oregon Principal of the Year.  Share your comments, questions and recommendations with Sara and other Book Blog readers vis the Comment Form below.


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This page was last updated on Saturday, December 12, 2009 .