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The Mindful School Leader: Practices to Transform Your Leadership and School Paperback – Dec 24 2014

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"In June of 2013, as I was leaving Baltimore City Public Schools, I wrote a letter to all students in which I paraphrased Tolstoy's beautiful parable, 'The Three Questions: ' Now was the most important time, because it was the only time when we have power. The person with you was the most important person, because you didn't know if you would ever have the chance to be true to that person. And the most important thing was to do good in the moment, because that was our fundamental purpose in life. This immensely wonderful book, full of practical lessons and next steps, as well as of stories by practitioners in the field, kept reminding me of the lessons in that parable, and why I had chosen them as my final words to my students - leadership, like all life, demands mindfulness, not only for the sake of ourselves as individuals, but in order to be true to the purpose of making life better for those we work with and those we lead. I recommend it enthusiastically for those seeking to lead in our increasingly difficult school and community settings." --Andres A. Alonso, former Superintendent of Baltimore City Public Schools and Deputy Chancellor of New York City Public Schools, Currently Professor of Practice, Harvard Graduate School of Education

"An important support for school leaders, this book is comprehensive, and well thought out. The personal stories within are compelling and encouraging. The Mindful School Leader is a tremendous asset to leaders worldwide to foster greater understanding and compassion within themselves and within schools." --Sharon Salzberg, Co-Founder Insight Meditation Society

"Courageous, visionary, caring leadership is crucial to building and sustaining positive learning environments in schools. Such leaders recognize that to promote optimal social-emotional and academic learning, collaboration is essential, and ongoing. Given the unrelenting, complex demands of our education system, The Mindful School Leader is an indispensable resource for all who exercise leadership in schools. From school leaders with formal authority (e.g. principals) to pre-service teachers, this book presents compelling evidence, and specific practices (e.g. Mindfulness Practice Aids) that can help all educators to both develop resilience and cultivate optimal learning in schools."

--Deborah Donahue-Keegan, Co-Founder and Lead Organizer, Massachusetts Consortium for Social-Emotional learning in Teacher Education and Lecturer, Tufts University

"Finally, after serving for fourteen years as a school leader and reading everything I could find, this is the book that I've been searching for. By deftly weaving together mindfulness theory, poignant personal portraits, and imminently practical advice regarding specific methods, the authors provide the antidote to the frenetic and oppressive toxins of contemporary education; they remind us that we should stop 'Racing to the Top' and take the time instead to plumb the depths of our own hearts and souls. This is a book that will join a select few on my shelf, as one I know I will return to again and again."--Paul Freedman, Founding Director

"Fireflies, cursing, conflict, and clarity - The Mindful School Leader stitches honest stories from everyday school leaders with practical guides and the most up to date research on mindfulness. I saw much of my own struggles and learning in its pages, and I suspect many educational leader will find resonance and helpful guidance for the ongoing challenges of growing our own souls and skills."

--Scott Nine, former Director of the Institute for Democratic Education in America

"How can K-12 schools possibly thrive today without wholehearted leadership? With The Mindful School Leader, Brown and Olson offer a sourcebook for bringing the age-old wisdom of mindfulness to current school leaders with compelling stories of people at work, current research, and simple, specific practices to apply. This book delivers an essential resource to the courageous school leader."

--Terry Chadsey, Executive Director, Center for Courage & Renewal

"In The Mindful School Leader, Brown and Olson offer with remarkable clarity and depth a thorough introduction to the practice of meditation, the science behind its benefits, and many firsthand accounts of lives and work situations transformed through this practice. Although this book was written for those in leadership roles in education, it will be inspiring for anyone interested in understanding their own minds and finding more ease in life and work."--Joseph Goldstein, Co-Founder

"In school environments where thick tension and palpable stress levels are all too common thanks to the pressures of high-stakes accountability, administrators struggle daily to navigate challenging terrain. This practical and hope-filled book by Kirsten Olson and Valerie Brown guides school leaders on a path toward transforming their practice in meaningful, mindful ways--and, in so doing, transforming their schools. The message here is simple yet powerful: To promote equitable and lasting change in America's classrooms, we have to begin within."

--Gregory Michie, Author of Holler If You Hear Me: The Education of a Teacher and His Students

"In the test, test, test world of education everyone needs a pause to rejuvenate, reenergize and raise creativity. Brown and Olson have written a book that will inspire school leaders and leaders in every walk of life to seek mindfulness for the sake of their life and those they lead. The beauty of this book is the inclusion of mindful practices that help leaders build the muscle necessary to embody mindful leadership. We can't think our way to better leadership, we must practice!"

--Roselyn Kay, Cohort Co-Director, Georgetown Leadership Coaching Program

"It's hard to imagine school leaders surviving (or thriving!) in today's often stressful teaching and learning environment without a process of regular self-reflection and other mindfulness practices. The Mindful School Leader offers an important set of practices and exercises that should be added to your personal/professional toolbox immediately, used regularly and shared with colleagues and friends."

--S. Kwesi Rollins, Director of Leadership Programs

About the Author

Valerie Brown has studied and practiced mindfulness meditation in the Plum Village tradition since 1995 and was ordained as a member of the Tiep Hien Order by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in 2003. She is an educational consultant and ICF-accredited leadership coach of Lead Smart Coaching, LLC, specializing in leadership and mindfulness training for educational leaders ( Valerie's life and work is a blending of career paths and disciplines, having devoted her early career as an attorney and lobbyist, representing educational institutions. She holds JD, MA, and BA degrees, and has trained extensively with the Center for Courage & Renewal, Georgetown University's Institute for Transformational Leadership, and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society/University of Massachusetts Medical School. As a certified Kundalini yoga teacher, she engages the wisdom of the mind-body connection to support vibrant, healthy leaders and teams. She shares her global vision of a society that is interconnected through mindful awareness and compassionate action in her first book, The Road That Teaches: Lessons in Transformation Through Travel (QuakerBridge Media, 2012). Her latest book, co-authored with her friend and colleague, Kirsten Olson, The Mindful School Leader: Practices to Transform Your Leadership and School, offers inspirational portraits and simple practices to promote greater peace and understanding within schools. When not leading retreats or consulting nationally or internationally, she is an advocate for Right Sharing of World Resources, a Quaker micro-credit lending organization and for Mercer Street Friends, a Quaker organization helping families and communities make the journey out of poverty. She lives in the funky artist village of New Hope, PA. about midway between Manhattan and Philadelphia, with her husband. She firmly believes that ice cream and carousel rides are critical to a better world!

Kirsten Olson is Chief Listening Officer at Old Sow Coaching and Consulting, where she works with education and learning-sector leaders nationally and internationally. She received a masters and doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and is also the author Wounded by School: Recapturing the Joy in Learning and Standing Up To Old School Culture (Teachers College Press, 2009) and Schools as Colonizers (Verlag, 2008). Kirsten is a founding board member of the Institute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA), a national not-for-profit organized to create greater educational equity, social justice, and to foster passionate learning.

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Top international reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected - this book is mostly about ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 13, 2015
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Sharon Samuel
5.0 out of 5 stars A good resource
Reviewed in the United States on November 9, 2019
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5.0 out of 5 stars highly recommend this book for anyone interested in improving their leadership capabilities!
Reviewed in the United States on November 4, 2017
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Maritza Soto
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, Thanks
Reviewed in the United States on March 8, 2015
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