Must-Reads, Professional Development

BOMish: January 2018 {“Work It”}

book-of-the-month (1)

I promise you have time to read. Heck, you’re doing it right now! 

I get it. Reading takes time, yet, I assure you, busy educator: it can be done!

I’m an avid reader, which really means I’m an avid time manager. How do I find the time to read? It’s a combination of planning and taking the opportunity.

How do you find the time?

I keep a book in my bag at all times, ensure my OverDrive always has at least one audiobook in the queue, and then… I just read. I admit, it took a minute to re-train my brain to not immediately go to my phone and mindlessly scroll the news and other’s (generally inaccurate) interpretations of the news. But there’s truly only so much saturation and rage one can take in regards to current events and corrupt leadership, and at a certain point, an unproductive threshold is crossed.

Enter: books! A fantastic, old-fashioned way to inform yourself, stay current, subconsciously improve your lexicon, and even (dare I say) relax.

The better question is: WHY do you find the time? 

Even though we know reading is good for us, we find many reasons to fill our time doing other stuff because as educators, our jobs require so much.

I treated reading as a luxury (my me-time-in-a-bubble-bath kind of luxury) until a wise graduate school instructor, Dan Kerr, said something that radically shifted my perspective to the utter necessity of reading. In class, one hot July afternoon in Madrid, he dropped a truth bomb on us young, eager educators:

“You are responsible for your professional development.”

My immediate internal reaction was that knee-jerk, millennial-flavored entitlement I’ve been steeped in since finishing my undergraduate degree in the U.S. 2009 economic recession. I thought some not-so-kind thoughts about how, “well, actually, I am entitled to this type of training and this kind of workshop because I’m supposed to be doing this at my job, but how would I ever know how to do that without proper training, and it’s not  f a i r …” (sometimes my subconsciousness is a total brat, especially when guarding my insecurities).

But, after a minute, I conceded that Dan had a brilliant point. If I want to learn more about fill-in-the-blank, what was stopping me from actually learning it? Do I truly need a schmoozy conference with an already-cold buffet dinner at a flashy school to tell me something effective that’s happening in the education world and how I might uniquely apply it? Not necessarily.

While I do love a good conference, I argue that it’s necessary as an educator to inspire myself beyond these opportunities and keep current on my own. Frankly, I need to bring myself to the learning, rather than passively being informed about best practices via conferences and workshops. If I want to be a good teacher, colleague, and mentor, it’s essential I’m doing my due diligence, daily which, granted, take a bit more digging and a bit more time. And if it’s true for me, it’s likely true for a lot of educators.

I feel so strongly about this, in fact, that I believe time spent reading is something that should unquestionably be budgeted into your to-do list as an educator. Reading for professional development is not a luxury– it’s an essential part of showing up as the best version of yourself as a professional.

Now, let’s get to the books!

What takes me the most time is actually deciding what I want to read, and I often turn to educator blogs and cursory Google searches to find out what I need to be reading. This series, the Book-of-the-Month(ish) or BOMish for short, is returning the favor and hopefully helping another educator sift through an intimidating sea of literature. The reviews are to-the-point and honest, like most feedback is not (jokes!).

My first book has quickly become one of my go-to resources manuals and major inspiration on how to push myself professionally, especially as a woman.

Work It: Secrets for Success From the Boldest Women in Business (Carrie Kerpen)

[Photo from Penguin Random House Publishing]
  • The Stats: 256 Pages, published January 2018
  • Who Should Read It: Women feeling overwhelmed by a male-dominated workplace; new professionals
  • My Rating (out of 5 ♥): ♥♥♥♥
  • My Thoughts: Work It combines practical advice on how to navigate the professional world as a young woman. Kerpin provides a wide range of perspectives from women who have seen success as a result of their own boldness, risk-taking, intuition, and experimentation in a wide range of careers, principally in corporate and entrepreneurial ventures. Yet while the subject matter itself is decidedly absent of any educational theory or practical teaching skills, it’s an invaluable guidebook for young women to learn how to leverage their strengths, confidently contribute in their workplace, network, identify and improve areas of growth, and navigate sticky topics, such as promotions, wages, and moving on from a position. My only critical feedback for this book is that it’s targeted for large corporations and operates on the assumption that a job’s wages, perks, and position are always highly negotiable (less so in education world)… and that it wasn’t published when I was 23 and entering my career. I finished this book feeling inspired and full of ideas on how to work it in my own way.