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Fearless Conversations Leaders Have to Have
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Table of Contents

Foreword Acknowledgments About the Authors Introduction Chapter 1: Creating and Sustaining a Viable Work Environment Chapter 2: Crafting and Supporting Strong Missions and Visions Chapter 3: Improving Through Effective Feedback Chapter 4: Increasing Parent and Community Stakeholder Partnerships Chapter 5: Managing and Sustaining an Organized, Productive, Ever-Changing School Culture Chapter 6: Boosting Collegial Climates by Providing Embedded Professional Development Chapter 7: Planning for Success Appendix A: Daggett System for Effective Instruction Questionnaire Appendix B: An Invitation to Our Readers References Index

Reviews

"Fearless Conversations School Leaders Have to Have is a necessary read for any school leader seeking to learn how to use strong educational principles in order to reach academic excellence on a global scale. The authors expertly describe the methods that will create a motivational learning environment for the entire school community."

-- Allison Tennyson-Ibrahim, M.Ed., Principal

"Fearless Conversations School Leaders Have to Have is a professional "toolbox" for aspiring as well as experienced school administrators and teacher leaders or any educator who cares about meeting the needs of today's student learner. Drs. Jones and Blake have provided a book that is clear and engaging. It is loaded with real-world advice. How to address difficult issues in a leadership role, for example, is presented in a realistic perspective through real-life examples, vignettes, and personal reflections that come not only from the authors themselves but also from school leaders currently in the field. These proven strategies bring credibility to the authors' work. I highly recommend this book. It is a practical guide that can help school leaders stay on the forefront of success in their schools."

-- Linda Pincham, Associate Professor

"The title of this book, Fearless Conversations School Leaders Have to Have, invites educators of all levels of school reform to follow the authors on an authentic journey to find moral and ethical harmony while discovering best practices for teaching and learning, alike.

The core principles of each of the seven chapters convey an inspirational repertoire of school improvement designs, strategies, organizational tools, and reflections. Any supervisor can utilize these principles when leading of school and/or organizational transformation. The authors' use of humor to illustrate the intricacies of engaging in powerful conversations via formal and informal contexts offers opportunities to better understand differing perspectives."

-- Deborah R. Jackson, Former President (2015)

"Fearless Conversations Leaders Have to Have is the kind of book principals are eager to devour, especially those new to the profession. Jones and Blake share powerful insights and provide real life fearless leadership examples and non-examples that can help to shape a principal's leadership vision. Their awareness of the challenges and opportunities principals face when they walk through the doors of their schools every day makes this book a must-have. As a new teacher under Dr. Blake's leadership almost 20 years ago, I can say with certainty that she has walked her talk and has a way of mentoring and guiding that is real, relevant, and learner-centered, even if that learner is an adult. I can't wait to share this book with the principals I lead!"

-- Natalie Grayson, Supervisor

"Filled with practical suggestions and reflective opportunities, this relevant and comprehensive book provides an excellent resource for active school administrators or students in training to be school administrators. With a focus on all practitioners, the authors, using clear and concrete examples, have provided a basis for understanding of topics related to the profession. This book provides valuable insights and perspective from two proven leaders and should be required reading for certification courses."

-- Roberto A. Pamas, EdD, Associate Professor - Education Leadership

"Given how quickly our increasing diverse world is changing, there are few more urgent challenges than engaging leaders in effective communication strategies that build functional relationships that transform schools and education systems. Fearless Conversations School Leaders Have to Have is seasoned with scenarios that all leaders will undoubtedly encounter in their leadership journey, and provides practical guidelines that light the path for school leaders who are building the collective school experiences for all learners. Rooted in compelling examples, and coupled with engaging approaches, the authors provide a blueprint for fearless communication in our increasing diverse schools."

-- Sherida Britt, Director Learning Solutions and Services

"This book is timely, practical, and clearly anchored in the rich leadership and coaching experiences of the writers. This book is a must read for all leaders and aspiring leaders at the building and central office level. This book will also be useful at the university level where new leaders are being prepared and inspired."

-- Lynda C. Wood, Ed.D, Retired Superintendent

"This book is a treasure trove of great advice, anecdotes, and wisdom from two highly successful principals and educational leaders. It will be especially useful to new administrators confronting the challenges and powerful opportunities present in schools today, especially urban centers characterized by diversity, rising expectations, and diminishing resources."

-- John L. Brown, Ph.D., Executive Director of Curriculum Design and Services

"I am enthusiastic about Dr. Irving Jones' book, Fearless Conversations School Leaders Have to Have. I have witnessed many times in group settings, his inclusive, thought provoking and intellectually stimulating manner in ensuring that we arrive at creative and effective solutions. And I know this is born out of his 25 years of success in the educational arena. He has been recognized as the Outstanding High School Principal in Virginia, NASSP/MetLife National Principal of the Year and a much sought after educational consultant. So the ideas he shares in this book with his colleague, Vera Blake, are truly worth examining to ensure our young people are fully prepared for work and life in the 21st century."

-- James Brown, Network Broadcaster

"Irving Jones, Sr., and Vera Blake guide readers along the path to thoughtful education reform in Fearless Conversations Leaders Have to Have: Step Out of Your Comfort zone and Really Help Kids. With years of invaluable school leadership as their foundation, these nationally-acclaimed school leaders and professional learning experts share how the importance of common visions, distributed leadership, and attention to adult and student learning in context can make a significant difference along the route to college and career readiness. Discovering evidence-based steps to improve student achievement throughout this narrative, the reader is pulled into a setting replete with dedicated change-agents who are determined to eradicate the obstacles of indifference and submission to failure. Demonstrating that collective action founded in the belief that all students can soar to a life of personal fulfilment and success, Blake and Jones share practical leadership skills and proof points that cultivate student agency through the quality of care and development provided to educators at every level who are responsible for students' academic achievement. This is a must-read primer for leaders looking to address the challenges of sustained success in closing fundamental gaps in teacher development and student learning."

-- Dr. Lillian M. Lowery, Vice President for P-12 Policy, Research, and Practice

"Successful school leaders set the tone, climate, and culture for their teams, departments, and schools; Jones and Blake have a firm grasp on this notion and provide effective and practical strategies for leaders of learning to accomplish this. As challenging as educational leadership is today, Jones and Blake approach this topic with "hopeful realism" and an understanding that fearless conversations are essential if school leaders hope to enhance instruction, improve student results, and build capacity among stakeholders. In Fearless Conversations Leaders Have to Have, Jones and Blake draw on their many years of successful experiences and provide leaders and aspiring leaders sound advice on range of topics necessary for helping students including honing goals and purpose, developing relationships with stakeholders, utilizing data, and implementing professional development. With an eye on 21st century skills, Jones and Blake convey the urgent need for courageous leaders to leverage these areas and others in the pursuit of continued refinement and improvement in teams and across schools. By providing helpful examples of schools addressing these needs as well as reflective questions to assist readers and leaders, Jones and Blake hit the mark on helping school leaders find a balance between good management and effective leadership."

-- John Gabriel, Principal of the Year

"Jones and Blake take proven strategies from the field and provide you with a structure to work and lead with the wisdom and creativity needed today in our schools. We can't build the future for our students by perfecting the past and this book provides the compass points we need to follow on the journey. Our profession needs more books like this!"

-- Raymond J. McNulty, Dean School of Education Southern New Hampshire University

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