Principaled: Navigating the Leadership Learning Curve

In Principaled: Navigating the Leadership Learning Curve (Dave Burgess Consulting Inc.), experienced principals Kate Barker, Kourtney Ferrua, and Rachael George share entertaining, thought-provoking, and intensely relevant stories of school improvement. The book’s central themes include the importance of identifying shared beliefs, clarifying purpose, developing a plan, and communicating ideas. The authors are committed to helping school leaders understand that clear and intentional practices are critical to building capacity. Knowing staff, embracing difficult conversations, developing a network, committing to learning, finding balance, and showing gratitude and grace while leading with love are among several topics the authors have experienced firsthand. Although readers are encouraged to “lean into their strengths” rather than focus on deficiencies, the authors humorously acknowledge that while others do make it look easy, school leaders need to “kick that deficit mindset to the curb” and develop an authentic style. Throughout the book, practical tools and references for research-based studies are provided to help guide school leaders in prioritizing ways to move a school forward. Just as important, readers will no doubt see themselves reflected in various scenarios described in the book, which may help relieve their angst about leading as they chuckle while reading.

—Susan C. Paul
Principal, Kaiserslautern Middle School, Germany, Department of Defense Education Activity

Running With Robots: The American High School’s Third Century

If there is something that we as school leaders have experienced a great deal of recently in our profession, it’s change. In Running with Robots: The American High School’s Third Century (MIT Press), authors Greg Toppo and Jim Tracy dive straight into how the education landscape is changing thanks to rapidly accelerating developments in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and machine learning. Toppo, an education journalist, and Tracy, a senior advisor at Jobs for the Future and a senior scholar at Boston University, explore both the present realities and future possibilities by interweaving a fictional story of an administrator who finds himself waking up and visiting his school in the year 2040. Between the chapters on what the principal, named Rumple, experiences, the authors discuss present education challenges in the context of past economic, educational, and social movements. They also explain how technological breakthroughs will result in an even greater need for experiential learning, a focus on the humanities and life skills, and the timeless guidance of educators.

—Eric Fox
Associate Principal, Jenks High School, Jenks, OK

The “Bright Morning” Podcast

According to Elena Aguilar, the host of “Bright Morning,” “every conversation counts.” That’s why Aguilar, the author of several books, including Coaching for Equity: Conversations That Change Practice, advises education leaders on how to be fully present and prepared to make the most of every educational opportunity. In each episode, she strives to provide them with insights and resources necessary to transform their schools into equitable spaces where everyone gets what they need to thrive. Formats alternate between solo presentations and guest conversations and feature timely topics, such as “Coaching Joy,” “10 Strategies to Shift a Mood,” and “What to Say: A Framework for Responding to Racism.” Episodes vary in length, but most could fit easily within a school leader’s commute to and from school, with the majority of conversational episodes concluding inside an hour. Listeners will also find links to additional resources, and subscribers to receive “Elena’s Weekly Wisdom Newsletter,” which offers “bite-size doses of inspiration, practical strategies, and tools for transformation.”

—Mike Rumsey
Assistant Principal, Roxana Senior High School, Roxana, IL

Not Paved for Us: Black Educators and Public School Reform in Philadelphia

Not Paved for Us: Black Educators and Public School Reform in Philadelphia (Harvard Education Press) inspires educators, education leaders, and policymakers to continue the conversation started during the pandemic to reimagine schools. Author Camika Royal brilliantly investigates the practices, policies, and major players of the School District of Philadelphia from 1967–2017. An associate professor of urban education in the School of Education at Loyola University Maryland, Royal harnesses the power of African American storytelling to encourage us all to act against racist and anti-Black education policies to improve urban school districts across the nation. Each chapter is titled after influential Hip Hop albums from her adolescence, which set the stage for her revolutionary and innovative thoughts. She implores readers to refrain from being “saviors” of Black students by lowering the bar to help them achieve. Instead, she contends that the best way to combat anti-racist school practices is to set and maintain high expectations for Black students. By reading this book, school leaders may benefit from gaining perspective about what is best for Black urban students through the lens of a Black scholar whose research unveils some of the common pitfalls of well-intentioned school reform.

—Latrese Younger
Assistant Principal, Patrick Henry High School, Ashland, VA