Here at Fulcrum, we love to read. We especially love to find inspiration for our work in interesting places, both inside and outside of education. Here is a collection of our favorite works that have helped shape our philosophy and thinking:
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
By Cal Newport
We live in a world that values volume, speed, multitasking, more more more! But is it helping us? Are we better for it? Cal Newport lays out the argument that the most successful people are the ones who engage in deep work and avoid the frenzy of our fast-paced, tech-crazed working culture. Plenty of implications for how and why we work with schools in the way that we do -- but also got us thinking about how schools are (or are not...) setting up students to be able to engage in deep work.
"The Mirage: Confronting the Hard Truth About Our Quest for Teacher Development"
TNTP has produced several conversation-starting reports over the past several years and The Mirage continued that tradition. Diving deeply into the professional development practices of three school districts and a large charter network, TNTP found that districts are making huge investments in teacher development (an average of $18,000 per teacher per year) but only 3 in 10 teachers show any observable improvements and teachers all but stop improving after their 5th year in the classroom. No particular strategies were linked to growth and, although improving teachers were found nearly everywhere, only 50% agreed that they had instructional weaknesses they needed to improve.
This study has had a profound impact on Fulcrum as we work to change this by building on the largest glimmer of hope found in the report -- a coherent and consistent system of instructional leadership centered around teacher development built on a culture of continuous growth and improvement.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
By Robert M. Pirsig
You might find it odd that this physical and philosophical journey could in any way inspire an education organization. But as Phaedrus, the motorcycle fixing narrator, recounts his quest to unite the objective nature of Western thought with the subjective nature of Eastern philosophies, you can't help but think of that same delicate balance and "the art and the science" of teaching. In that elusive space between subjective and objective, rational and spiritual, lies Quality -- where you know it when you see it and can't always explain it in a way that fully captures or recreates it. Sound familiar? We sure thought so.
Make It Stick
By Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel
There are so many myths out there about how learning happens and so many of them have crept into our classrooms. (It's even worse when it comes to how most professional development and adult learning plays out...) Grounded in the latest research in cognitive psychology and related learning sciences, Brown, Roediger, and McDaniel lay out practical techniques for how to make learning better. And most of them will challenge everything you think about how to learn best. Get ready to change your approach to nearly everything -- and understand why Fulcrum structures its partnerships the way that it does.