Educator Bandwidth: How to Reclaim Your Energy, Passion, and Time

At a time when educator recruitment and retention have never been more urgent, Educator Bandwidth: How to Reclaim Your Energy, Passion, and Time by Jane A.G. Kise and Ann C. Holm, has arrived. This book reminds us that we make hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions daily as educators. Each decision draws upon the battery of our own bandwidth, decreasing our ability to maintain emotional neutrality and focus on what’s best for our staff and scholars. By further understanding their personal bandwidth, school leaders can make intentional moves to drive their goals and objectives. Kise and Holm walk the reader through practical application of their research with a book study structure that can easily be adapted at the building level. They also provide a survey that school leaders can differentiate for individual staff members to help them target areas within their personal and professional lives. For me, an educator of 21 years, this book brought to light unconscious factors draining my daily battery and leaving little bandwidth for my loved ones. In education, the “whole child” is often referenced. The “whole educator” must be prioritized, too.

—Brian Cox
Principal, Verona Area High School, Verona, WI

Older and Wiser: New Ideas for Youth Mentoring in the 21st Century

In Older and Wiser: New Ideas for Youth Mentoring in the 21st Century (Harvard University Press), Jean E. Rhodes clinically dissects mentors and mentoring over the millennia and assesses the effects of various theories and practices, from the story of Mentor in Homer’s The Odyssey to the contemporary challenges facing 21st-century mentors. With an estimated 14 million students attending public schools with no nurse, counselor, or mental health staff, guidance counselors are increasingly finding that their investment in student mental health is cutting into their capacity to mentor students by providing adequate college and career counseling. In the face of these astounding deficits, Rhodes, a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Boston, combines historical documentation with empirical research to suggest how we can still serve students with current, research-based models of mentoring. She describes how three approaches to mentoring (specialized, embedded, and blended) can expand access to care, give volunteers clearer goals, and free up professionals to share their expertise and focus on the most critical cases. School leaders interested in learning more will be intrigued by what Rhodes describes as “a stepped-care model of mentoring,” which cultivates creative collaboration between professionals and trained volunteers. 

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

Principal in Balance: Leading at Work and Living a Life

With principal stress levels at an all-time high, school leaders would be wise to read Jessica Cabeen’s latest book to help them decompress. Principal in Balance: Leading at Work and Living a Life (Jossey-Bass) suggests ways for readers to carve out time for self-care and reflection to improve efficiency and maximize their impact. A middle school principal who knows the challenges of school leadership firsthand, Cabeen provides a common language for mental health and wellness by defining key terms (e.g., “resiliency” in Chapter 1 and “stress” in Chapter 2). The book also includes step-by-step guidelines for school leaders to commit to strengthening their capacity at work while living life more abundantly through exercise, stress reduction, and personal goal-setting. Each chapter provides a fill-in table titled “Doing the Homework,” where readers can document how they will incorporate new learning into daily practice. A resource page and heartfelt letter conclude this compelling read that will refresh your soul and give you the necessary push to continue serving your school communities with zeal and excellence while attending to your own needs as a leader.

—Latrese Younger
OSQ (Office of School Quality) Specialist, Virginia Department of Education, Richmond, VA

“The Interview Chair”

Hosted by Jimmy Casas, “The Interview Chair” is a timely podcast for any educator questioning whether the demands of school leadership—from political and social challenges to physical and emotional exhaustion—are worth the energy it takes to do the job. With a focus on school culture and climate, this podcast asks listeners to picture themselves back in the interview chair, when, as Casas says, “you were genuine, sincere and full of passion and convinced a group of people that you were the best person for the job.” After all, “it was there, in the interview chair, where you were the real you.” In Episode 9, “Five Ways to Shift Your Thinking,” listeners learn that we are all responsible for our own morale. To that end, Casas offers five ways to move past fear to become the best version of ourselves. His first tip? “Avoid the B3s,” the bottom third of people in our lives who refuse to celebrate any type of success, who relish in mediocrity, and who operate in the comfort of the status quo. By following this advice, we can accept our missteps, start anew each day, and better serve our students, staff, and ourselves.

—Nicole J. LeClaire
Principal, Kenesaw Jr/Sr High School, Kenesaw, NE