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Top "10" Professional Reading List for Educators - 2012 Version

by Joseph M. Crozier, GWAEA Chief Administrator
For the past ten years, I have published the “Top 10” professional reading list for educators. This “Top 10” list provides thought provoking and motivating learning for administrators, teachers, administrative teams, and building faculties.


This list is in no particular order. It contains many books that I have found beneficial for my personal and professional growth.
All of these books will be available in the Grant Wood AEA Media Center Professional Library. Happy Reading!




"The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers (And Their Employees)" by Patrick Lencioni

Patrick Lencioni, renowned business consultant and best-selling author of "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team," is on a critical mission: create widespread job satisfaction in a world full of workplace misery. His latest book," The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers (And Their Employees)", tells the inspiring tale a high-flying, but deeply dissatisfied Chief Executive Officer who ditches the power and perks for career bliss as the manager of a pizzeria! In this unusual and inspiring story, Lencioni convincingly demonstrates how career happiness (or misery) is the direct result of the manager-employee relationship. Patrick Lencioni took the time to tell us about his life-long "obsession" with job misery, shatter some myths about workplace satisfaction and offer some real advice on how to turn that daily grind into daily fulfillment. -- Lauren Nemroff


"Breaking the Fear Barrier: How Fear Destroys Companies from the Inside Out, and What To Do About It" by Tom Rieger

The greatest threat to an organization’s success is not always the competition. Often, it is what a company does to itself. Because of fear, companies become plagued with barriers and bureaucracy that limit success, crush employees, and infuse frustration and a sense of futility across the enterprise. It starts with a narrowing of focus, which leads to the first level of bureaucracy: parochialism. Parochialism exists when managers and departments begin to view the world through the filter of their own little silo, build walls, and make rules and policies to protect their turf. As businesses grow and become more complex, the second level of bureaucracy is reached: territorialism. While parochialism is about protecting a department from outsiders, territorialism is about controlling those inside the silo. The third and final level of bureaucracy is empire building, which is a response to perceived threats to a department’s ability to be self-sufficient. These barriers cost organizations a fortune in inefficiency, turnover, waste, and demoralization.


"StandOut: The Groundbreaking New Strengths Assessment from the Leader of the Strengths Revolution" by Tom Rath

"Standout" introduces the next-generation strengths assessment from Marcus Buckingham, co-author of Now, Discover Your Strengths, the book that launched Strengths-Finder. The product of a massive data set and rigorous statistical testing, the StandOut assessment unveils your two key strength roles and shows you how to find your edge and win at work. Where other assessments stop at description, StandOut takes the next step and provides practical advice on what to do to make the most of the strengths you have. Each of the nine possible strength roles is fully delineated in the book, with a wealth of detail, including:

• Where you will be at your most powerful

• How you can make an immediate impact

• How you can win as a leader, manager, salesperson, or individual contributor.


"Focus, Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning" by Michael Schmoker

Best selling author Mike Schmoker describes a plan for radically improving student learning that is built on three core elements: a focused and coherent curriculum (what we teach); clear, prioritized lessons (how we teach); and purposeful reading and writing, or authentic literacy.   With this “less is more” philosophy, educators can help students learn content at a deeper level, develop greater critical thinking skills, and discover more clearly how content-area concepts affect their lives and the world around them.  Both a call to action and a blueprint for creating more effective classrooms, Focus: Elevating the Essentials for Radically Improved Student Learning will challenge your assumptions about schooling and show how educators who have embraced this approach quickly achieved spectacular results.


"Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best...and Learn from the Worst" by Robert I. Sutton.

"Good Boss, Bad Boss" is devoted to answering that question. Stanford Professor Robert Sutton weaves together the best psychological and management research with compelling stories and cases to reveal the mind set and moves of the best (and worst) bosses. This book was inspired by the deluge of emails, research, phone calls, and conversations that Dr. Sutton experienced after publishing his blockbuster bestseller "The No Asshole Rule." He realized that most of these stories and studies swirled around a central figure in every workplace: THE BOSS. These heart-breaking, inspiring, and sometimes funny stories taught Sutton that most bosses - and their followers - wanted a lot more than just a jerk-free workplace. They aspired to become (or work for) an all-around great boss, somebody with the skill and grit to inspire superior work, commitment, and dignity among their charges.


"The Coming Jobs War" by Jim Clifton

Drawing on 75 years of Gallup studies and his own perspective as the company’s chairman and CEO, Jim Clifton explains why jobs are the new global currency for leaders. More than peace or money or any other good, the business, government, military, city, and village leaders who can create good jobs will own the future.   The problem is that leaders don’t know how to create jobs – especially in America. What they should do is recognize that the world is in a war for jobs. It seems that leadership has lost the will to win, especially in America, but this is a competition for our lives.   To win, leaders need to compete. Everyone does. The public school system needs to inculcate kids with the knowledge they'll need to compete in the jobs war. The business community needs to double the psychological engagement of workers so that it can compete with cheaper labor. The healthcare system must stop wasting the resources that we need to spend on job competition. Society needs to realize that entrepreneurs, not government, are the source of new jobs and put all its energy behind them. Perhaps most importantly, leaders need to recognize universities, mentors, and especially cities as a supercollider for job creation.   If that can be done – and it can be done; leaders have done it before – new good jobs will result. There’s not a moment to waste: the war has already begun.


"Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements" by Tom Rath and Jim Harter Much of what we think will improve our well-being is either misguided or just plain wrong. Contrary to what many people believe, well-being isn’t just about being happy. Nor is it only about being wealthy or successful. And it’s certainly not limited to physical health and wellness. In fact, focusing on any of these elements in isolation may drive us to frustration and even a sense of failure.   When striving to improve our lives, we are quick to buy into programs that promise to help us make money, lose weight, or strengthen our relationships. While it might be easier to treat these critical areas in our lives as if they operate independently, they don’t. Gallup’s comprehensive study of people in more than 150 countries revealed five universal, interconnected elements that shape our lives:   The Five Essential Elements: Career Wellbeing, Social Wellbeing, Financial Wellbeing, Physical Wellbeing, Community Wellbeing.


"Leaders of Learning: How District, School, and Classroom Leaders Improve Student Achievement" by Richard DuFour and Robert J. Marzano

For many years, coauthors Rick DuFour and Bob Marzano have been co-travelers on the journey to help educators improve their schools. As Rick has focused on bringing the professional learning community process to life in schools, he has relied heavily on Bob's vast research on effective teaching and effective leadership. Bob has come to the conclusion that the best environment for great teaching and leading is a powerful PLC. In "Leaders of Learning: How District, School, and Classroom Leaders Improve Student Achievement," the authors have combined their passions into one book to articulate how effective leaders foster continuous improvement at the district, school, and classroom levels.   Rick and Bob argue that no single person has all the knowledge, skills, and talent to lead a district, improve a school, or meet all the needs of every child in his or her classroom. They assert that it will take a collaborative effort and widely dispersed leadership to meet the challenges confronting schools. Leaders of Learning focuses on district leadership, principal leadership, and team leadership, as well as addressing how individual teachers can be most effective in leading their students by learning with their colleagues how to implement the most promising pedagogy in their classrooms.


"Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education" by Will Richardson and Rob Mancabelli

 This book presents an innovative, comprehensive strategy for reinventing education to meet the needs of 21st century students and society. Much more than familiar rhetoric on what is wrong with education, the authors provide a compelling vision for education as it could and should be and a road map to help get us there. Mancabelli & Will Richardson have provided us with a step-by-step guide to create globally-connected classrooms, implement powerful project-based curriculum, and introduce our students to tools and technologies with transformative potential. --Angela Maiers, President of Maiers Educational Services, Clive, Iowa  This book is chock-full of useful information and highlights numerous practitioners who are walking the walk. A fantastic resource for administrators, teachers, policymakers, and others who are trying to lead their organizations into the digital, global world in which we now live. --Scott McLeod, Director at UCEA Center for Advanced Study of Technical Leadership in Education, Ames, Iowa


"Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson

Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.   At a time when America is seeking ways to sustain its innovative edge, and when societies around the world are trying to build digital-age economies, Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination. He knew that the best way to create value in the twenty-first century was to connect creativity with technology. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering.


**Summaries adapted from by Joseph M. Crozier,
Grant Wood AEA, 1/16/12.


Book covers reprinted with permission of the publishers.


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