Hump Day Book Look: 07.10.19

Reading is breathing in. Writing is breathing out.


During the school year, I teach American Literature and spend A TON of time digging into the finer points of fiction. But no school means that I can read whatever I want! So each Wednesday throughout the summer, I’ll try to post a sort of living, breathing “works in progress” reading list of a handful of books I’m working through, along with a few lines about what I’m learning as I go.

I once heard it said that the books you are reading today is the person you'll become in five years. I really like that idea. Click To Tweet

Fair warning: I’m a “dabbler,” who works in spurts through a ton of different books at a time. Audiobooks, Kindle, PD reads, leisure reading, and a whole bunch of non-fiction books — usually for professional growth along the lines of personal branding or dedicated research for future projects on down the line.

This week’s audio book:*

Kim ScottRadical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity

Boss Lady: A big part of my work as an instructional coach tasks me with leading “from the middle.” Unlike full-blown school administrators, coaches serve in a role that is strictly observational and non-evaluative, and so I’m always on the lookout for tips and tricks on how to lead and serve more effectively. Kim Scott is an accomplished programmer and Silicon Valley project leader who’s resume includes noteworthy stints at Apple and Google. In Radical Candor, she boils her leadership approach into two driving principles: care personally and challenge directly, and she develops a pretty handy four quadrant matrix to help leaders keep tabs on just what, exactly, they’re doing, and how. It’s a great visual shorthand to help you get a sense of your efficiency as a project manager.


Verdict: Well worth the download. The four quadrant approach is super helpful in a pinch, and I’m looking forward to bringing the same model to my team so that we’ll all have the same common language for accountability.

This week’s PD (re)read:

Rick Wormeli – Fair Isn’t Always Equal: Assessment and Grading in the Differentiated Classroom (2nd Edition)

Level Up: Traditional grading systems are antiquated, arbitrary, and compliance driven — and in serious need of an overhaul. Rick Wormeli is arguably one of the most well-respected experts in the country when it comes to building educational systems designed for access, equity, and authentic learning. As our school community begins the first phase of some serious conversations regarding a possible shift towards standards based grading, I recommended the revised edition of Wormeli’s Fair Isn’t Always Equal to about 20 teachers in my building, who started using it for a weekly online book discussion group. I’ll be meeting with a handful of those same teachers in about two weeks, so this week I went back to the book to see what else I could gather to help facilitate the group’s ongoing dialogue.

Verdict: It’s my personal opinion that Standards Based Grading (Or something a lot like it) is the way of the future in education. If you’re an educator who’s still stuck in a system of averaging points and grade grubbing, you owe it to yourself to check out Wormeli’s book.

This week on Kindle:

John Meehan – EDrenaline Rush: Game-Changing Student Engagement Inspired by Theme Parks, Mud Runs, and Escape Rooms

New World Order: So technically this one is a repeat from last week (hey — my blog, my rules, right?), but it’s one of those rare instances where I’m deliberately sloooooooow reading a single book over the course of multiple weeks, since we’re having a Voxer book study and I want to be able to deep dive into each of the chapters with fellow teachers who are doing the same. Fun fact for anyone thinking of writing a book: no matter how many times you proofread the darned thing, there will be typos that make it into the finished pages of your final manuscript. Super eye opening (and more than a little humbling).

Verdict: You tell me! We’re doing a Voxer book study all summer long and would seriously love to hear your feedback.

*A quick note on Audiobooks: Two hours of commuting every day = lots of time to “read” in the car! And yes, audiobooks absolutely count as reading. The research is super clear on this point, especially for readers with learning differences — including folks with dyslexia like me — and I wholeheartedly encourage my students to do the exact same thing.

Author: John

John Meehan (@MeehanEDU) is an English teacher and school instructional coach at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Virginia. He began his teaching career in 2010 as a career switcher through The New Teacher Project, after spending five years working in social media and event marketing. He is a 2017 ASCD Emerging Leader, and an alumnus of the 2016-2018 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council. In 2016, he was named one of Arlington, Virginia’s “40 Under 40” by the Leadership Center for Excellence. He is a past presenter and regular attendee at educational conferences throughout the United States, including the annual conference for National Catholic Education Association, ASCD Empower19, and the Play Like a Champion Today: Character Education Through Sports summer conference at the University of Notre Dame. He’s an avid runner who’s completed more than three dozen marathons, half marathons, long-distance road relays, mud runs, and obstacle course races. John lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

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