In most of my blogs I refer to books in fields outside of ESOL because I think that teaching is related to everything else. If we only read books directly related to what we do we are likely to get fewer insights.

An area that I have just recently started reading about is educational leadership. I recently reconnected with a former MA student of mine who went on to start an international school in Queens and subsequently became deputy chancellor of the New York City Schools–Eric Nadelstern. After our meal, he gave me a copy of a book he had just completed: 10 lessons from New York City Schools–what really works to improve education. Though he wrote the book for school principals and directors of school districts, it is easy to see how we can apply his 10 lessons to our classrooms as well.  I am attaching a copy of my review of  Eric’s book.

A few months before I read Eric’s book I got an e-mail from a fellow staff member from my days in the Peace Corps in Somalia,Robert Blackburn. He suggested that I read In the Corssfire: Marcus Foster and the Troubled History of American School Reform by John P. Spencer. After Somalia Bob became deputy director of the Philadelphia School System which was led by Marcus Foster. They subsequently were invited to lead the Oakland School System. But tragically, Dr. Foster was assassinated by the Black Panthers soon after he arrived in Oakland.

As you can see from the comment I quote below about  Spencer’s book, it is a book that compliments Eric’s because in reading about Dr. Foster’s ideas we realize that to improve schools we have to work not only within the schools but in the communities the schools are in.

Here is a comment about Spencer’s book.

By focusing on an educator who worked in the trenches and had a reputation for bridging divisions, In the Crossfire sheds new light on the continuing ideological debates over race, poverty, and achievement.

Foster charted a course between the extremes of demanding too little and expecting too much of schools as agents of opportunity in America. He called for accountability not only from educators but also from families, taxpayers, and political and economic institutions. His effort to mobilize multiple constituencies was a key to his success—and a lesson for educators and policymakers who would take aim at achievement gaps without addressing the full range of school and nonschool factors that create them.”

I think that the more engaged teachers become in seeing connections between their teaching and the practices and policies of principals and school district officials the more likely students will achieve more. Though I am urging you to read the books by Spencer and Nadelstern, I think that after you finish them you should ask your principal to read them if the principal has not read them.

From a fellow sailor on the sea of learning!

John

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