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Lessons Learned


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Table of Contents

Preface Acknowledgments About the Author Setting Sail 1. Have I Told You the One About...? 2. The Long Version 3. Shootin' the Breeze 4. The Fragile Ego 5. Who Am I? 6. Steer Clear 7. The Hand That Holds The Paintbrush 8. Strength or Weakness? 9. Good Though 10. Right or Wrong? 11. Held Harmless 12. On Balance 13. Loose Lips 14. Fatal Attraction 15. Going It Together 16. Captain's Orders 17. In Place 18. Inside Passage 19. Meetings at Bay 20. Skinflint Skippers 21. Both Feet In 22. Promises, Promises 23. Fair Winds 24. Can You Help Me? Epilogue Cruising Rules Glossary Cruising Rules Working Rules

About the Author

Founding Director, Harvard Principals' Center. Roland S. Barth is a consultant to schools, school systems, state departments of education, universities, foundations, and businesses in the United States and abroad. After receiving his AB degree from Princeton University and master's and doctoral degrees in Education from Harvard University, he served as a public school teacher and principal for fifteen years in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and California. Barth received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1976, and joined the faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Education for thirteen years. He serves as a trustee of Hurricane Island Outward Bound School, a member of the board of Micro-Society Inc., chairman of the Board of the Principal Residency Network, and a member of the Board of Editorial Advisors of the Phi Delta Kappan.


"Few topics are more important than how school leaders can shape relationships and improve the culture of the workplace. In Lessons Learned, Roland Barth distills a lifetime of craft knowledge acquired both on the sea and in schools to provide readers with the guidance and wisdom that only such a reflective and insightful mind can provide. Barth advocates truth telling, and this wonderful book offers that rare and significant gift to its readers."

-- Dennis Sparks, Executive Director

"School leaders will find treasures of wisdom in this profound, yet entertaining, easy to read, and witty account of Roland Barth's life as an educator and sailor, and his ability to connect the two experiences. The importance of creating a productive work culture through positive relationships remains Roland Barth's main message to educators. In Lessons Learned, he skillfully uses the navigation metaphor to draw simple, yet profound lessons rooted in his experience as a teacher, principal, and sailor."

-- Gerald N. Tirozzi, Executive Director

"Lessons Learned is an insightful, funny, moving look at commonalties between life at sea and life in the schoolhouse. Using his head and heart, Roland Barth applies the many lessons learned from sailing (Cruising Rules) to the work of school leadership (Working Rules). Combining the two challenging practices makes for much shared wisdom and serious fun."

-- Milli Pierce, Director, The Principals' Center

"If you're curious about how to strengthen and sustain relationships in life, you'll relish Lessons Learned. If you are a school leader who wants to build strong organizational culture, you'll find it essential."

-- Jon Saphier, President

"Barth reminds us that relationship building is still key to creating and sustaining high performing schools. In this way, he walks the reader through the many practical strategies educators can-and must-use to grapple with the continuous adaptive challenges inherent in learning communities."

-- Linda Phillips Hollomon, Executive Director

"Whether a sailor or a school administrator, on a boat or in a boardroom, out to sea or ashore, Barth's Lessons Learned is a powerful guide for defining the types of interpersonal relationships needed to bring about success."

-- Karen M. Dyer, Manager, Education Sector

"Barth has mined his own experiences for a wonderful collection of tales that use open-water sailing as a powerful metaphor for work and life. By turns witty, entertaining, instructive and poignant, Barth's stories will get you thinking, and the 'working rules' salted throughout the book will help you navigate the deceptive shoals and powerful tides we all have to deal with at work."

-- Lee G. Bolman, Marion Bloch/Missouri Chair in Leadership
"This charming, humorous, and wise book teaches important lessons about relationships at work and at play. Once again, Barth has written a useful and invaluable book for teachers and principals alike." -- Thomas J. Sergiovanni, Lillian Radford Professor of Education

"I found myself wanting to steal all his quotes and rules, and fill them in with my own stories. He left me making New Year's resolutions and then laughing at myself. Roland Barth turns reflective craftsmanship into a revealing and wonderful venture, as he scans deeply over and under troubled waters, and comes up each time with a new way to see an old dilemma."

-- Deborah Meier, Co-principal

"Roland Barth's Lessons Learned is a revelation about 'school' and those who practice it. To read it, every cruising rule, working rule and scene, is to be inspired, heartened, startled, delighted. Barth talks to us with astounding candor and humor and astuteness."

-- David Mallery, Director of Professional Development

"These marvelous saying from Barth about schooling, living, and sailing, all here happy bundled together, are as familiar and apt as they are so often forgotten in the pressureful work of schools. Read theses and live by them."

-- Theodore R. Sizer, Visiting Professor

"Roland Barth goes to sea to present us with a delightful series of life's lessons equally applicable to the high seas and to the daily workplace of landlubbers. Twenty-three 'Cruising Rules' matched with twenty-three 'Working Rules' represent the distilled wisdom from a master who has spent forty years leading and learning his way through life to the benefit of others. An invaluable guide to personal and organizational effectiveness."

-- Michael Fullan, Dean

"With Lessons Learned, Barth unites his passion for sailing with his love for schooling. The result is a new kind of wisdom, one born from the integration of experiences with and reflections about life in all of it manifestations. This wisdom pulls us back to think anew about relationships, forgiveness, and responsibilities."

-- Linda Lambert, Professor Emeritus

"Another great book by Roland Barth! This time bringing together his two passions--sailing and education. It's not only a great compilation of stories, but each one has meaning for our lives as educators. He's given us simple rules to lead us in our complex work to make schools better."

-- Dennis Littky

"Elegant and wise; and authentic navigational chart for leaders on the high seas of organizational life."

-- Brendan Croskery, Chief Superintendent
"Lessons Learned provides lighthearted, pleasurable insight to the collection of rules that guide the development of wisdom from an experienced administrator, professor, and sailor." -- The School Administrator, June 2004

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