Resources We Love (And Hope You Will Too!)

Feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of amazing content out there? You’re not alone! These days, finding good content is like finding a needle in a needlestack. There are so many amazing things to read, watch, or listen to that it can be hard to choose.

During our May Counterpart meetings, we asked school leaders to share the content they have been engaging with recently. Below is a list of all the resources shared by our incredible community, offering a taste of the diverse and inspiring content they’re currently exploring. This list has something for everyone: from thought-provoking articles to captivating podcasts to must-watch documentaries. Some will help you move your work forward, and some will help you take a well-deserved break. Take a peek, pick your poison, and get ready to dive into something fantastic!


How To!

You’ve got questions. Together, we get answers.

We all need advice, but sometimes it’s hard to know where to turn. Each week, Courtney Martin and Carvell Wallace bring a listener on to the show to solve their toughest problems with the help of world-class experts. It’s free therapy, and you’re invited.

The CharacterStrong Podcast

Weekly conversations for anyone in education. CharacterStrong is an organization that provides curricula and trainings for schools internationally. Their trainings help educators infuse character and social-emotional learning into the daily fabric of any classroom or campus. The curricula focus on character development in order to help students cultivate social-emotional skills, emotional intelligence, and to help them develop a stronger identity and purpose in school and in the world.

Small Town Dicks

Welcome to the home of Small Town Dicks, where you can go behind the scenes of small town crime cases with the real detectives who investigated them. Hosts Yeardley Smith, twin detectives Dan and Dave, and forensic expert Paul Holes ask the essential questions and offer their own insights so the stories always hit close to home. All seasons are available for streaming.

The Cult of Pedagogy

Teaching strategies, classroom management, education reform, educational technology– if it has something to do with teaching, The Cult of Pedagogy is talking about it. Jennifer Gonzalez interviews educators, students, administrators and parents about the psychological and social dynamics of school, trade secrets, and other juicy things you’ll never learn in a textbook.

Coaching Conversations With Jim Knight

Jim Knight is the founder of The Instructional Coaching Group, a professional development provider dedicated to offering professional development for coaches, teachers, and leaders based on a partnership approach that creates better learning environments for all students. Jim has spent 25 years studying professional learning and instructional coaching.

No Stupid Questions

Research psychologist Angela Duckworth (author of Grit) and tech and sports executive Mike Maughan really like to ask people questions, and they believe there’s no such thing as a stupid one. So they created a podcast where they can ask each other as many “stupid questions” as they want. No Stupid Questions is a production of the Freakonomics Radio Network.

School Culture by Design

During 30+ years of wandering the continent, visiting schools, and listening to educators share their joys and frustrations, Phil Boyte has learned a lot about building great school culture. This podcast features examples Phil has seen work to enhance school culture, stories from some of his heroes in education, and simple ideas to start implementing on your campus today.

Dare to Lead

The Dare to Lead podcast is a mix of solo episodes and conversations with change-catalysts, culture-shifters, and as many troublemakers as possible. Innovating, creating, and building a better, more just world requires daring leadership in every part of our daily lives– from work to home to community. This podcast hosts conversations that help you show up, step up, and dare to lead.


The Leader in Me by Stephen R. Covey, Sean Covey, Muriel Summers, & David K. Hatch

Educators face a wide array of challenges, with an even wider selection of ways to solve these problems. However, the only true path to growth in education is the recognition and application of timeless, universal principles. In today’s world, we are inundated with information about who to be, what to do, and how to live. But what if there was a way to learn not just what to think about, but how to think—a process that taught how to manage priorities, focus on goals, and be a positive influence? Leader in Me is that process.

Uncommon Sense Teaching by Barbara Oakley, PhD; Beth Rogowsky, ED; & Terrence j. Sejnowski, PhD

Neuroscientists and cognitive scientists have made enormous strides in understanding the brain and how we learn, but little of that insight has filtered down to the way teachers teach. Uncommon Sense Teaching applies this research to the classroom for teachers, parents, and anyone interested in improving education. Topics include:

  • keeping students motivated and engaged, especially with online learning
  • helping students remember information long-term, so it isn’t immediately forgotten after a test
  • how to teach inclusively in a diverse classroom where students have a wide range of abilities
Leadership and Self Deception by The Arbinger Institute

Leadership and Self-Deception uses an entertaining story everyone can relate to about a man facing challenges at work and at home to expose the fascinating ways that we blind ourselves to our true motivations and unwittingly sabotage the effectiveness of our own efforts to achieve happiness and increase happiness. We trap ourselves in a “box” of endless self-justification. Most importantly, the book shows us the way out. Readers will discover what millions already have learned–how to consistently tap into and act on their innate sense of what’s right, dramatically improving all of their relationships.

Talking to Crazy by Mark Goulston

No matter how hard you try to reason with irrational people, it never works. So how do you talk to someone who just won’t listen? You can’t win by ignoring the insanity, and you can’t argue it away. However, you can stop it cold. Top-ranked psychiatrist and communication expert Mark Goulston shows you just how to do so in this life-changing book for everyone trapped in maddening personal or professional relationships. Goulston unlocks the mysteries of the irrational mind, and explains how faulty thinking patterns develop. His keen insights are matched by a set of counterintuitive strategies proven to defuse crazy behavior, along with scripts, examples, and exercises that teach you how to use them.

Taking Action: A Handbook For RTI at Work by Austin Buffum, Mike Mattos, & Janet Malone

Response to intervention or RTI (also known as multi-tiered system of supports or MTSS) is the most effective process for ensuring student success, using differentiated instruction to provide the time and support necessary. This comprehensive implementation guide covers every element required to build a successful RTI at Work™ system of support in schools. The authors share step-by-step actions for implementing the essential elements, instructional strategies, and tools needed to support implementation, as well as tips for engaging and supporting educators. Readers who valued the practical knowledge in Learning by Doing: A Handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work™ (DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, Many, and Mattos) will appreciate a similar style and practicality in Taking Action.

We Want To Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom Dr. Bettina Love

Drawing on her life’s work of teaching and researching in urban schools, Bettina Love persuasively argues that educators must teach students about racial violence, oppression, and how to make sustainable change in their communities through radical civic initiatives and movements. She argues that the US educational system is maintained by and profits from the suffering of children of color. Instead of trying to repair a flawed system, educational reformers offer survival tactics in the forms of test-taking skills, acronyms, grit labs, and character education, which Love calls the educational survival complex.

Supercommunicators by Charles Duhigg

Communication is a superpower and the best communicators understand that whenever we speak, we’re actually participating in one of three conversations: practical (What’s this really about?), emotional (How do we feel?), and social (Who are we?). If you don’t know what kind of conversation you’re having, you’re unlikely to connect. Supercommunicators know the importance of recognizing—and then matching—each kind of conversation, and how to hear the complex emotions, subtle negotiations, and deeply held beliefs that color so much of what we say and how we listen. Our experiences, our values, our emotional lives—and how we see ourselves, and others—shape every discussion, from who will pick up the kids to how we want to be treated at work. In this book, you will learn why some people are able to make themselves heard, and to hear others, so clearly.

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski, PhD & Amelia Nagoski

Burnout. Many women in America have experienced it. What’s expected of women and what it’s really like to be a woman in today’s world are two very different things—and women exhaust themselves trying to close the gap between them. How can you “love your body” when every magazine cover has ten diet tips for becoming “your best self”? How do you “lean in” at work when you’re already operating at 110 percent and aren’t recognized for it? How can you live happily and healthily in a sexist world that is constantly telling you you’re too fat, too needy, too noisy, and too selfish?

The Art of Gathering: How We meet and Why It Matters: Priya Parker

In The Art of Gathering, Priya Parker argues that the gatherings in our lives are lackluster and unproductive – which they don’t have to be. We rely too much on routine and the conventions of gatherings when we should focus on distinctiveness and the people involved. At a time when coming together is more important than ever, Parker sets forth a human-centered approach to gathering that will help everyone create meaningful, memorable experiences, large and small, for work and for play. Drawing on her expertise as a facilitator of high-powered gatherings around the world, Parker takes us inside events of all kinds to show what works, what doesn’t, and why. She investigates a wide array of gatherings – conferences, meetings, a courtroom, a flash-mob party, an Arab-Israeli summer camp – and explains how simple, specific changes can invigorate any group experience.

Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni

In his latest page-turning work of business fiction, best-selling author Patrick Lencioni provides readers with another powerful and thought-provoking book, this one centered around a cure for the most painful yet underestimated problem of modern business: bad meetings. And what he suggests is both simple and revolutionary. As in his other books, Lencioni provides a framework for his groundbreaking model, and makes it applicable to the real world. Death by Meeting is nothing short of a blueprint for leaders who want to eliminate waste and frustration among their teams, and create environments of engagement and passion.

Trust and Inspire by Stephen Covey with David Kasperson, McKinlee Covey, & Gary Todd

We have a leadership crisis today, where even though our world has changed drastically, our leadership style has not. Most organizations, teams, schools, and families today still operate from a model of “command and control,” focusing on hierarchies and compliance from people. But because of the changing nature of the world, the workforce, work itself, and the choices we have for where and how to work and live, this way of leading is drastically outdated.

Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. By Brené Brown

Leadership is not about titles, status, and wielding power. A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for recognizing the potential in people and ideas, and has the courage to develop that potential. When we dare to lead, we don’t pretend to have the right answers; we stay curious and ask the right questions. We don’t see power as finite and hoard it; we know that power becomes infinite when we share it with others. We don’t avoid difficult conversations and situations; we lean into vulnerability when it’s necessary to do good work. But daring leadership in a culture defined by scarcity, fear, and uncertainty requires skill-building around traits that are deeply and uniquely human. The irony is that we’re choosing not to invest in developing the hearts and minds of leaders at the exact same time as we’re scrambling to figure out what we have to offer that machines and AI can’t do better and faster. What can we do better? Empathy, connection, and courage, to start.

Coaching for Equity: Conversations That Change Practice by Elena Aguilar

If we hope to interrupt educational inequities and create schools in which every child thrives, we must open our hearts to purposeful conversation and hone our skills to make those conversations effective. With characteristic honesty and wisdom, Elena Aguilar inspires us to commit to transforming our classrooms, lays bare the hidden obstacles to equity, and helps us see how to overcome these obstacles, one conversation at a time. Coaching for Equity is packed with the resources necessary to implement Transformational Coaching in any organization. In addition to an updated coaching framework and corresponding rubrics, a comprehensive set of coaching tools puts success in every coach’s hands. Extensive personal narratives demonstrate what coaching for equity looks like and help us see how we can make every conversation count towards building a more just and equitable world.

Having Hard Conversations by Jennifer Abrams

Many educators struggle with discussing difficult issues with colleagues. This insightful book helps readers effectively lead challenging conversations with supervisees, peers, and supervisors. Emphasizing initiative and preparation as keys to a successful conversation, the author’s step-by-step approach provides:

  • Thought-provoking questions and first-person accounts that help build communications skills
  • Advice on overcoming personal hesitation about expressing concerns
  • Guidance on goal setting and choosing the best “what-where-and-when” for a productive discussion
  • Sample scripts and other interactive tools to help educators prepare for the conversation and achieve positive outcomes
Radical Candor by Kim Scott

The idea is simple: You don’t have to choose between being a pushover and a jerk. Using Radical Candor―avoiding the perils of Obnoxious Aggression, Manipulative Insincerity, and Ruinous Empathy―you can be kind and clear at the same time. Radical Candor is about caring personally and challenging directly, about soliciting criticism to improve your leadership and also providing guidance that helps others grow. It focuses on praise but doesn’t shy away from criticism―to help you love your work and the people you work with.

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum

Walk into any racially mixed secondary school and you will see young people clustered in their own groups according to race. Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy? Beverly Daniel Tatum, a renowned psychology Professor, guides us through how racial identity develops, from very young children all the way to adulthood, in black families, white families, and mixed race families, and helps us understand what we can do to break the silence, have better conversations with our children and with each other about race, and build a better world.

Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

How did Fidel Castro fool the CIA for a generation? Why did Neville Chamberlain think he could trust Adolf Hitler? Why are campus sexual assaults on the rise? Do television sitcoms teach us something about the way we relate to each other that isn’t true? While tackling these questions, Malcolm Gladwell was not solely writing a book for the page. He was also producing for the ear. In the audiobook version of Talking to Strangers, you’ll hear the voices of people he interviewed – scientists, criminologists, military psychologists. Court transcripts are brought to life with re-enactments. You actually hear the contentious arrest of Sandra Bland by the side of the road in Texas. As Gladwell revisits the deceptions of Bernie Madoff, the trial of Amanda Knox, and the suicide of Sylvia Plath, you hear directly from many of the players in these real-life tragedies. There’s even a theme song – Janelle Monae’s “Hell You Talmbout.” Something is very wrong, Gladwell argues, with the tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don’t know. And because we don’t know how to talk to strangers, we are inviting conflict and misunderstanding in ways that have a profound effect on our lives and our world.

The PD Book: 7 Habits that Transform Professional Development by Elena Aguilar & Lori Cohen

Develop transformational professional development programs that build and sustain your school community. In The PD Book, bestselling author Elena Aguilar and co-author Lori Cohen offer seven habits―and a wealth of practical tools―that help you transform professional development. In this book, you’ll learn how to inspire adult learners, the importance of having clear purpose, and how to navigate power dynamics in a group. You’ll also learn a new way to plan PD that allows you to attend to details and be a responsive facilitator. The dozens of tips and tricks, anecdotes and research, and tools and resources will enable you to create the optimal conditions for learning.

Radical Responsibility by Fleet Maull

An Invitation to Discover Personal Freedom, Authentic Relationships, and Limitless Possibility What is the greatest obstacle to your fulfillment, success, and happiness? “It’s the belief,” teaches Fleet Maull, “that your current situation, whatever it is, has the power to determine your future.” Before he was a revered meditation teacher, Fleet Maull served 14 years in prison for drug trafficking. And during that time, he embarked on a path of transformation and service that today has helped tens of thousands–from inmates to hospice patients to top-level business leaders. With Radical Responsibility, he invites us to experience for ourselves the life-changing journey from victim to co-creator. Here, he guides us step-by-step to shift our fear-based conditioning into the habits of courage, compassion, and positive change.

Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

Equal parts leadership fable and business handbook, this definitive source on teamwork by Patrick Lencioni reveals the five behavioral tendencies that go to the heart of why even the best teams struggle. He offers a powerful model and step-by-step guide for overcoming those dysfunctions and getting every one rowing in the same direction.

Hardwiring Excellence in Education – The Nine Principles Framework by Dr. Janet Pilcher

Leadership doesn’t just happen, it is practiced. Hardwiring Excellence in Education provides proven tools and tactics for anyone who practices leadership regardless of their position. Each chapter focuses on the Nine Principles® Framework, a recipe for effective leadership skills, supported by real-life examples and clear techniques to build leadership skills for improving all aspects of our work and organizations. The proven tools and tactics described in each chapter focus on leaders balancing the emotional and rational sides of our organizations. This book helps education leaders be at their best to achieve excellence.

The Writing Revolution: A Guide to Advancing Thinking Through Writing in All Subjects and Grades by Judith C. Hochman & Natalie Wexler

The Writing Revolution (TWR) provides a clear method of instruction that you can use no matter what subject or grade level you teach. The model, also known as The Hochman Method, has demonstrated, over and over, that it can turn weak writers into strong communicators by focusing on specific techniques that match their needs and by providing them with targeted feedback.


Women Administrators Rise!

In March, Portico hosted an engaging workshop that delved into the unique challenges faced by women in educational leadership roles. In this session, attendees discussed the pervasive gender biases and stereotypes that often hinder the professional growth and personal well-being of women administrators in school systems. Take a look at the event summary for a recap of the event and a list of targeted resources.

Newsletters/ Blogs

Seth Godin’s Blog:

Lori Cohen Consulting:

Gretchen Ruben’s Happiness Project:

Peer Driven PD:

Marshall Memo:

Don’t hesitate to share your own content discoveries in the comments below. Let’s keep the inspiration flowing!

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