Category: Online Reads

What I’m Reading and Thinking About this Month November 2016

What I’m Reading and Thinking About this Month November 2016

What I have been thinking about:

Thanks to the two books I read this month I found myself thinking a lot about averages and email. I plan on sharing more of my thoughts about email in a later blog post. For now I want to focus on the idea of averages. I don’t want to give too much away but Todd Rose’s book The End of Average but it definitely will make you think about how the systems we design are not set up to help everyone succeed. As I read The End of Average I found myself questioning how PD is run in most schools. Most schools try to design a system that fits the average teacher. While this helps some people excel it does not help everyone. I really want to jump deeper into this concept and try to develop a personalized pd system at my school that helps all of my teachers excel. I plan on making this one of my big projects for 2017.

Blog Posts to Checkout:

Forget Inbox Zero: Manage Your Inbox Better with These Smart Email Workflows by Emily Irish

A great blog post with several ideas of how to gain control of your inbox. I really like the Eisenhower box method of processing emails. It’s a simple yet effective way of evaluating what emails you need to attend to.

Don’t waste your anger. by Jon Acuff

As I read this I found myself wondering how much better school would be if people choose option 2 instead of option 1. Since reading this I have tried my best to always choose option 2 instead of option 1.

How Your Mood in the Morning Affects Your Productivity All Day by Belle Cooper

A common thread that I have seen amongst many productivity systems is starting your day with a positive. I have been trying this recently and have noticed a big improvement in my own productivity. The other day I decided I was going to try Julia Cameron’s morning pages routine. Even though I had an early morning meeting and a late night, I found myself staying productive throughout the day. In fact I found myself going back to the document I created and adding another 500+ words throughout the day. While I don’t think I can write 750 words every day, I am going to try to do this as least twice a week and see if I can replicate the success of my first attempt.

 

 

My Books for the Month:

By now it should not be a secret that I am not a fan of email. Actually I should rephrase that. I am not a fan of how people use email and the stress that it creates in our lives. This book offers great strategies for dealing with both. In the book Glei talks about why we are so addicted to our email, offers strategies for breaking our addiction, and gives several tips and tricks for composing more effective emails. I highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in being more effective with email.

 


As a fan of personalization in education this book is amazing. In the book Rose argues that the reason why systems fail is that they are built for the average person. Through a series of historical lessons and real world examples of personalization Rose creates a compelling argument against using averages to rank and compare people. He even includes a whole section on why higher education needs to change.

What I’m Reading and Thinking About this Month September 2016

What I’m Reading and Thinking About this Month September 2016

What I have been thinking about:

This month I have been thinking a lot about email. Email in theory is a great form of communication. It’s quick, it can include digital media, and you can wrap multiple people into the conversation. People can quickly respond to emails and conversation loops can quickly be closed. Sounds great right? Unfortunately this is not how I am seeing email being used by most people. To learn more about why this is happening I read a few great articles that share some tips on writing better emails. I’ve also started to read a lot about how email can affect your daily productivity and happiness at work.I also just ordered Jocelyn K. Glei’s new book Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real Work Done to learn more. In a future blog post  I’ll share in more detail what I am trying to do to write better emails and help increase my daily productivity. 

 

Blog Posts to Checkout:

Don’t Let Email Zombies Eat Up Your Day by Jocelyn K. Glei
This is the article that really got me thinking about how much email controls my daily life. In this post Glei offers easy four easy to implement tips that can help you gain control of your inbox. The tip of closing your inbox while you work on other projects has already had a big impact on my ability to focus.

Email Etiquette: How to Ask People for Things and Actually Get a Response by Jocelyn K. Glei
If you enjoyed the first Glei blog post I suggest checking out this longer post. In this post Glei offers tips on how to structure your emails to get responses. I recently have been trying to implement some of these tips and have seen my response rate already increase.

High Tech, High Touch, High 5 by Jonathan Tiongco
This past summer I was able to see my former administrator Jonathan Tiongco share about Alliance Charter School’s BLAST blended learning program. During the presentation Jonathan shared the BLAST High 5 signature practices which I think are a great start for getting started with blended learning.

How To Use SCAMPER To Greatly Improve Your Product by Phil McKinney
In this post Phil McKinnery shares a great tool for brainstorming. SCAMPER is an acronym for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put To Other Uses and Reverse. McKinney offers a great list of questions that you can ask when you are trying to innovate or need to break through a creative block.

My Book for the Month:

When my coworker Rommel Ruiz messages me with go buy this book now I listen. I have had this book on my to read list for a while. I’m glad that Rommel “forced” me to pick this book up. It’s a super easy and quick read but it contains several very important lessons. While I don’t think I will be able to 100% implement all of the suggestions in the book it does lay a framework for making sure that you take care of the essentials. If you enjoyed Cal Newport’s Deep Work or are looking for a book that will help you make sense of your day to day chaos I would suggest checking this book out.

What I’m Reading and Thinking About this Month August 2016

What I’m Reading and Thinking About this Month August 2016

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What I have been thinking about:

This month I have been thinking a lot about the importance of building a schedule that includes time deep work. After analyzing my summer task list I found that I filled up a majority of my summer and last year with completing tasks. This lead to very little time for creation and deep work. To help increase my deep work time I have gone back and recreated my schedule for next year. In a future blog post I’ll share in more detail what I am trying this year to regain my time.

Blog Posts to Checkout:

Build the Perfect Productivity System with Paper Notebooks and Digital Tools by Zapier
The process of balancing digital and analog tools is not easy. This article shares some great paper based productivity systems (I personally use a modified version of the bullet journal), some tips on when to use digital or analog tools, and some hybrid digital/analog tools that are worth checking out.

And it’s gone —The true cost of interruptions by Gabriela Motroc
Another article about the price you pay when you are constantly interrupted at work. What I found interesting was the idea of planned interruptions vs unplanned interruptions. I plan on tracking my own work habits over the next few weeks and seeing how my productivity is impacted by the numerous planned interruptions I have throughout the day.

The Big Mistake: Failing to Support Innovation With Proper Resources by Phil McKinney
Money, resources, time, and manpower….Things that every school wishes they had more of. Phil McKinney says that all of these elements are necessary for innovation. As I read the article I found myself trying to think of ways to maximize the four elements within my own organization. It’s not easy but in order to create an innovative culture all four are necessary.

How idea adoption works–The Idea Progression by Seth Godin
Yet another awesome Seth Godin piece. As I read this I kept thinking about change in schools. Godin argues that when you are looking to implement change or introduce a new idea  it’s super important to find the people on the fringe that think like you do.

My Books for the Month:


Last summer I had the opportunity to see Warren Berger keynote at the 2016 Student Achievement Symposium that LACOE hosted. At the event we were all given a copy of Berger’s book A More Beautiful Question.  I am only halfway through the book but I am loving it. The ideas and concepts shared in the book are very applicable to education. In fact the second chapter in the book is dedicated to the importance of keeping questioning alive in education. I would suggest this book for anyone who is looking for a way to start innovating within their organization but is not sure where to start.

I know this has nothing to do with education but I love this series and think that everyone should give it a chance. The fun story, dynamic characters, and jokes hidden in the artwork always put a smile on my face. Sadly this is the penultimate trade which means the story is quickly coming to an end. The Last Suppers set the stage for what I’m sure will be a crazy ending to this awesome story.