Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Book Club: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People


One of my big, hairy, audacious goals in life is to start a public, Montessori charter school in Austin, TX. For those of you who aren't too familiar with charter schools, the short story is that they are free, public schools that receive per/pupil funding just like schools in districts but they are not part of the school district. They do not have to use the same curriculum, the same hiring and firing procedures, the same technology, etc. They are still held accountable by the same state assessments that the children take each year, but beyond those required tests, they are pretty much free to innovate.

There's a lot of anti-charter sentiment out there, even in circles I admire (like academia). Many people argue that charter schools represent an abandonment of the public school system. They argue that charter schools "skim the cream off the top" and recruit the highest-performing children away from their zoned schools.

My support of the charter school model (notice I didn't say "charter schools," since there are a lot of bad ones out there) comes from the past twelve years of working in education for economically-disadvantaged children. I've worked with AmeriCorps, Teach For America, KIPP, YES Prep Public Schools, Teacher U, Achievement First, and three school districts. I have experienced firsthand--over and over again--how difficult it is to shift the direction of the bureaucratic behemoths that school districts can be. I have wasted tons and tons of energy fighting the system--energy that would have been better spent on creation and innovation.

As I understand it, the original purpose of charter schools was to create "incubators" where new ideas could be implemented and tested on a small scale and then shared back with school districts. That's why I believe in charter schools. I don't want them to take over and cause the dissolution of school districts, but I do want them to show districts that there is a better way.

So anyway, you may have noticed this post is about a book club--not a manifesto about charter schools (did you think I just titled it incorrectly?). If I'm going to be an effective leader of a public Montessori charter school, then I have a lot to learn, and I'm going to start by rereading a book that revolutionized my life six years ago: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

I'm going to talk about one chapter a week. I'd love it if you'd join me!

Here's how it's going to work:
  • If you want to join us, please leave a brief comment (something as simple as "I'm in!"), so I have a sense of how many people are interested. It's fine if you comment anonymously.
  • I'll post my discussion of the first chapter "Inside-Out" (which is approximately 30 pages in my copy of the book) on Monday, April 25 and we can discuss it in the comments. We'll do one chapter per week (gotta keep it manageable!).

P.S. Mica, I got your awesome e-mail message. Thank you! This book is definitely on my list of books that shifted my paradigm. I'm going to start another book list in the left sidebar of my blog, as I think of other ones.



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33 comments:

Katrina Crone said...

I'd do it! This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for awhile and I keep meaning to get around to reading it.. :)

Teressa N said...

I'm in. I've got access to the book & audio book & I think I will take advantage of that asap! Psyched!

Mindy said...

I'm in!

ErikaM said...

I'm in. Stephen Covey spoke at my college graduation and my mom gave me a copy of the book. I never got around to reading it but I feel like now is the perfect time to really get into it because of where I am in my job.

kelly said...

Yes please!

Roxanne said...

I'd love to! I've been meaning to read this book.

maya938 said...

I'm in! This group of support could not come at a better time for me. Yay and thank you!

Delray from Toledo said...

I'm in, just need to go purchase the book!

Samantha said...

I'm in.

Anonymous said...

I'm in, assuming I can find a copy at my library...

Anonymous said...

I'm in, I'm actually in the process of reading it right now and maybe this will help me from annoying all my friends by trying to tell them about it :-).

Katie

Andie said...

yes! thank you for this opportunity...

Amanda said...

My Dad gave me this book years and years ago and I never got around to reading it (that must be completely opposite the habits of effective people) so it's about time - I'm in!

Maureen said...

In like flynn. I've had this book for 4 months and have only skimmed it. Thanks for the motovation to read it!

Anne-Marie said...

What a great goal. I'm in.

Kate S. said...

I'm in! I've been a recent reader of your blog and been very inspired by you and your family. I've been meaning to read this book for a while now so this is my perfect opportunity! Count me in!

Mindy said...

I already left a comment but I just heard on NPR that both creators of Google were Montessori students and the company is based on a montessori model! Pretty cool!

Allison Campbell said...

I'm in!

Kirstie said...

I'm in, and my library has a copy available, hurray!

Megan said...

I'd love to participate. I will also be relying on the library for a copy though...

Andrea said...

I'm in too!

Malvo said...

I'm in as well!

Jami said...

I'm in!

k8thegr8 said...

I'm in! Its been in my bedside table for a month now. Perfect timing!

Gretchen said...

I'm definitely in for reading the book!

And thank you, thank you, thank you for your support of charter schools! I work at a charter school for at-risk high school students in Indiana. I love hearing from people who are willing to take the time to learn about charter schools and understand them before forming an opinion. I find that most people don't understand what charter schools are all about. I'm constantly explaining how they work to people when they find out I work at one. Thanks again!

Mica said...

Oh boy, I've never been in a book club, online or otherwise!

Thanks for the postscript in your post! I'm excited to start reading this book!

Courtney said...

Definitely in! I have wanted to read this so why not now?

Michelle said...

I'm in if I can find a copy of the book by Friday! :o)

Allyn said...

I'd do it as well. Seems as good of a time as any!

Natalie said...

I would love to do this but totally don't have time for extra reading right now (sad but true).

But I just want to say, please do start a montossori chart school in Austin! I am moving to the area and don't have kids yet but I will someday and I'd like to be able to send them to your school! I'd support your goal in any way possible!

Megan said...

I am totally in! I have been meaning to read this book for years, and now is as good a time as ever!!

Sarah said...

Ooh, I'm definitely interested! :)

Lexie said...

I just picked the book up from the library yesterday! I'm going to try to get caught up in time to participate in this next Monday's discussion.

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