3 Easy Steps to Setting Your 2018 Educational Leadership Reading Challenge on Goodreads

One year. 12 months. 365 days. When you break down one year, it's actually not that long. So what do you want to do differently this year? What do you want to learn to do or improve? 

This post is for you if you're...

  • A graduate student studying educational administration and leadership who may be working on a large research paper or project.
  • An educational researcher who wants to set a yearly reading goal to investigate a new area of interest.
  • A school administrator who wants to improve their leadership skills.
  • A teacher who wants to keep on top of the current literature in the field of educational administration and leadership.
  • Someone with an interest in educational books who wants to be intentional about what they learn this year.

So, you have 365 days. How do you want to spend it?

In this post, I'm going to walk you through how to set up your 2018 reading challenge on Goodreads in 3 easy steps. If you haven't heard of Goodreads, it's a really useful app that you can download on your phone (or access via the web). Not only can you track the books that you have read and want to read, but you can create and join book clubs (called "groups"), read recommendations and reviews, post stories, and connect directly with authors all over the world. It's a great tool, especially if your goal this year is to be more intentional about what you read. 

Here are a few things to consider before we begin to set up your reading challenge in Goodreads:

  • What subjects would you like to read more about? If you're reading this blog post, I assume you have some interest in educational administration and leadership issues, but of course this tutorial will work for anyone who wants to set up a yearly reading challenge. So, what specific things do you want to know more about? 
  • How many books do you want to read? Do you want to try to read 12 books this year? Less? More? Try to choose a realistic number of books - but do push yourself. Remember, it's a challenge and it should be challenging.
  • How will you make time to read this year? We're all busy, right? So how are you going to make time in your busy day to read the number of books you've chosen for yourself this year? Will you get up one hour earlier every morning to read? Will you read for thirty minutes before bed every night? Decide how you'll set aside time in your day to reach your reading goal.

And just in case you don't already have a huge list of books in mind that you want to read this year, here is a quick & easy tip for finding new & interesting books in your niche:  

Tip! Let's say you want to read more books about educational administration and leadership, but when you search "educational administration" in your university library website, the results are overwhelming. There are literally hundreds of possible titles that you could read - how do you know which will be useful? The answer is in the books and academic articles you have already read. Go back and find one on book or academic article that interested you. Flip to the references in the back of the book or paper, and check out the reference list the author has already built for you, and choose a few titles that sound interesting. Your university library is perhaps the best place to find academic books, though for those hard to find books, check in with your local bookstore - they can often contact the publisher to get a copy of the book.

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So, now you've determined what subject you want to read more about, picked a number of books to read this year, and prioritized reading in your life. Now we're ready to set up your reading challenge in Goodreads! Below, I've created a quick 3 step (2 steps if you already have a Goodreads account!) process of setting up your 2018 educational administration + leadership reading challenge. 

1. Create a Goodreads Account

Navigate to Goodreads.com and select Create a Free Account.

Tip! You can also download the Goodreads app on your iPhone or Android device so you can update your books wherever you are. This is great for when you get a book recommendation or see a book that you want to read - you can easily open the app and add the book to your bookshelf - and voilà! You'll never need to try to remember another book title ever again.

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2. Set the Number of Books you Want to Read in 2018

Remember when we brainstormed earlier in this post about the number of books you wanted to try to read this year? Here's where you enter that number into the 2018 Reading Challenge field and click Start Challenge. In the example below, you'll notice I've chosen 12 books to read this year, one per month. This is a realistic goal for me, because it suits my lifestyle as a full-time university employee, grad student, and blogger (well, as much as I can be right now). Make sure to make your goal something attainable, but something that will still challenge you. Believe it or not, it's actually possible to read a book every day - and while your own goals don't need to be this lofty, it all comes down to how much time you are able to carve out of your day to dedicate to reading. 

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3. Update the Progress of Your Book (don't forget to reward yourself)

As you read or complete books, don't forget to update your progress so that your status bar changes to show that you've completed x number of books toward your challenge (pictured below). It's pretty fun to be able to click that you've finished reading a particular book and to see it go towards your goal. And of course, don't forget to reward yourself. I know that reading is kind of its own reward, but it will help keep you motivated toward your goal, and well, it's just fun to do.

Tip! Consider leaving a review of the book you just finished reading on Goodreads and other websites such as Amazon or on your local bookstore's website, to help other people determine if this is a good book for them and why they might want to pick it up (or avoid it altogether if their interests lie elsewhere). 

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Hey guys - I know that setting a goal for yourself is just half the battle - that hard part is actually going through with your plans. That being said, here are a few quick tips on how you can make time for yourself to read more this year:  

  • Setting goals - hey look! You've already done that! You're already off to a great start.
  • Make the most of your morning or evening commute - bring a book or eReader with you on public transit, or find an audio recording of the book to listen to on your iPod or car's stereo.
  • Plan a project - how will you use the information you've read? Will it inform how you teach or practice educational administration in schools? What are some realistic actions that you can implement, starting today?
  • Reflect on what you've read - keep a book journal or bullet journal and write down your favourite ideas or quotes from the book.
  • Join a book club - there are many book clubs you can join on Goodreads, or you can start your own online or in-person administrator book club (click here to read my guide on how to start your own + get the free tip sheet!)
The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go!
— Dr. Seuss

Did you enjoy this blog post? Let me know in the comments below if any of the tips above helped you, or if you created your own reading challenge on Goodreads. 

C. Valentine

Let's Start an Administrator Book Club + a Free Tip sheet on How to Start Your Own Online Book Club on Goodreads!

Who doesn't love a good book club? Besides getting together with friends and having a couple glasses of wine, it's so much fun to discuss a book you spent hours reading with other people who have invested own their time into reading and understanding the same book. Book clubs are great for so many reasons - they make you try books you may not have otherwise picked up, give you insights you would not otherwise have had, and to reflect on your own experiences. I've been a member in several book clubs over the years, and they have helped me to better understand what are now some of my favourite books - of course, the food and the wine didn't hurt either!

But what about administrator book clubs? I know that they absolutely have and do exist. I read a study once on administrative uses of Twitter in which administrators were able to connect with each other on social media and ended up starting a book club, and I thought this was such a great idea. I wish the practice of starting administrator book clubs was more common, because the benefits would be huge for grad students, teachers of educational administration, and school administrators. To see what was out there, I conducted an official Google Search for administrator book clubs and found that there are definitely a few administrator-specific book clubs with an online presence. For example, the University of Virginia Administrator Book Club (ABC) has a website for their book club, and seems like it's doing a great job of bringing together administrators from various departments within the university to discuss administration + leadership topics. I think a book club like this would be so beneficial for my graduate program, or even at the university where I work. Unfortunately, memberships to these book clubs tend to be limited by proximity to the organization or by the nature of their membership.

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Fortunately we do not live in a day and age where we need to sit around to wait for our schools to organize their own book clubs. With the Internet, anyone can start their own online book club, which is a great alternative to a more traditional book club (though you may need to supply your own wine and hors d'oeuvres). Online book clubs allow users from all over the world to meet online at a time that is convenient for them, and can comment on each other's observations through group forums. Perhaps the most popular platform for online book clubs is Goodreads (which also features some useful book reviews for some popular educational admin books, like this one I wrote), although a Facebook group or your own blog works just as well. All you need is an Internet connection.

I think anyone who studies, teaches, or practices educational administration would benefit from joining an administrator book club. Through writing this post, I've become inspired to start my own. I will add a link here when my online book club is live, but for now, please spread the word and if you feel as passionate about starting an administrator book club as I do, check out Goodreads or another online platform of your choosing, and start your own - and of course, if you do, please link it the comments section below!

Click here to download my free tip sheet on how to start your own online administrator book club on goodreads in 5 simple steps!

Are you currently in a book club, online or otherwise? What do you like about being in one? 

C. Valentine

How To Start Your Own Mini Administration Library in 3 Simple Steps

A Mini Administration Library!?

A year ago, I took a course in which I was challenged to develop a creative project to reflect the study and practice of my specific field - in my case, educational administration & leadership - and I came up with one of the most fun and useful projects I've made to-date, called the Adminibrary.

I came up for the idea for the Adminibrary ("miniature + administration + library") by thinking of my bookshelf in the office where I work at a local university, not as just a place to store all my books, but as an opportunity to share admin + leadership knowledge with my co-workers. I decided to turn my bookshelf as a miniature library and even created a postcard to "advertise" that the books on the Adminibrary could be borrowed (more about that here). 

The best part of the Adminibrary it is that it sparks impromptu conversations with other administrators about their practice and giving them an opportunity to reflect on what they do well. I'll show you how, in the 3 easy steps below, how you can create your own in practically any space available.

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1. Claim a space in your office or open workstation for your mini library.

The space you claim for your mini administration library can be small - and I mean small! When I first started the Adminibrary, I had my own small bookshelf in my office, but when my office moved to a new building and I began to work in an open workstation, I used a small shelf for my mini library instead. Yet, as small as it is (about 1 cubic foot of space), it comfortably fits about 20 decent-sized books. Depending on the size of books you have, you might fit a few more or a few less, but this doesn't have to a huge space.

Here are a few examples of possible spaces to set up your own library, no matter how much (or how little) space you have available:

  • A bookshelf (or just a single shelf in a bookshelf)
  • The top of a cabinet
  • An empty space on a shelf in a workstation or cubicle
  • An empty space on a desk (hint: use bookends to keep books from falling over!)
  • A common agreed-upon area for the whole office to share administration + leadership books

2. Collect materials.

If you're anything like me, you probably have dozens of books that you may have bought for grad school or for research, and now, you have a place to proudly store these books in your own mini library. But you don't have to limit yourself to books - you can include printed copies of your favourite articles, education journals, your thesis or dissertation, conference papers, a USB stick full of your own writing...the possibilities are endless! 

Try collecting a few of these materials for your own library:

  • Administration + leadership books
  • Printed copies of journal articles
  • Educational Administration journals
  • Printed copies of online articles or blog posts
  • Higher education magazines with your favourite articles bookmarked
  • Your thesis or dissertation
  • A USB drive full of your own work

The only constraint you may have is space (depending on what your workspace is like), so you might have to be selective about what materials you want to include. 

3. Lay out ground rules for borrowing materials.

As soon as you set up your mini library, there's a chance other people might notice and ask to borrow your books. I did call this a library, which implies sharing, right? But you can decide whether or not you want to lend books out and how you want to keep track of who has borrowed what. I went so far as to create library sign-out cards where people would write their name and the title of the book they were borrowing, as well as the date they borrowed it. Dispense due back slips at your discretion!

Show me your own mini libraries! Tag #valentineacademia on your social media accounts to show me how your libraries turned out!

Click here to download a free tip sheet to create your own mini administration library!

C. Valentine

Instadministration: 5 Ways to Use Instagram to Share Your Administration Research + Projects

We all know that Instagram is a great way to share photos with our friends, as well as to connect directly with businesses and bloggers. But for us administrators & academics, Instagram is a platform that gives us with the opportunity to share our academic-related experiences, connect with like-minded peers, and give our audience an authentic, behind-the-scenes look at the research process. In other words, Instagram allows us to show others what academia looks like. Photos speak louder than words and your Instagram portfolio can be a useful platform from which to share who you are + what you do.

I also know that as administrators/academics/researchers, we tend to separate our personal lives from our academic/professional identities. But Instagram is your opportunity to share more about who you are + the unique academic experience that you're living. Below, I've shared 5 ways to use Instagram to share your administrative research + projects with your social network (even if you don't have one yet).


Pssst...if you are new to Instagram, sign up here for a free account and let's get started!

1. Photograph your research projects.

In my opinion, academic research does not get shared nearly enough through social media. Research dissemination is typically reserved only for academic journals and conferences, but those audiences are also fairly limited. Your research and your work is part of who you are, so don't be afraid to share your projects (or the research process, for that matter), on your Instagram account. You never know what other academics you might be able to connect with online that you may not have otherwise knew existed if it weren't for social media. So whether it's a paper, an arts-based research project, or just a photo of the celebratory donut you treated yourself to after finishing a book chapter, share it!

2. Share what books you're currently reading.

There's one thing we academics have in common: we are always reading something: books, articles, magazines, blog posts...the possibilities are endless! So if you've recently read a book that has inspired you, take a moment to share a photo of it on Instagram and leave a recommendation for it in the description of your photo for others who might share the same interests. Don't be afraid to also leave a shoutout using the @symbol to the author to let them know what you thought - authors usually appreciate hearing about how their ideas resonated with you!

3. Share what events & conferences you're attending.

Are you attending an educational admin conference, or giving a presentation at one? If photos are allowed, document your experiences attending these events, or have someone take a photo of YOU attending/presenting/being your glorious self. Don't forget to share your highlights + takeaways from the conference or event in the description of your photo and use the conference hashtag (if available). 

4. Capture the places that inspire you.

Where in your city do you feel most inspired? Is there a favourite park bench you sit on to think during your lunch hour? A coffee shop you visit to work on an article or a book? Think about where those places are in your city, and the next time you visit, take a picture to remember it by.

5. Write 100 words about your photo.

Okay, it doesn't have to be 100 words exactly, but pictures are only enhanced through the text you include in your Instagram post, so why not put some thought into it? Describe what you're doing, who you're with, what you were thinking about when you took the picture, why you took this photo, etc. Adding some thoughtful text is a great way to infuse some of your personality + narrative into your photos and to allow your followers and friends to get to know more about you. Plus, 100 words isn't that much - it's the exact length of this paragraph!

Did any of these ideas work for you? Use the hashtag #valentineacademia to show me your posts and don't forget to comment below with your own ideas :)

Happy Instragramming! 

C. Valentine

Bloom's New Digital Taxonomy: A Framework for Educational Administrator Preparation Programs

Originally invented in 1956 by Benjamin Bloom, the original Bloom's Taxonomy provides a framework for instructors for setting educational goals in their classrooms. Often portrayed as a pyramid, the original Bloom's framework scaffolds students' skills, beginning with Knowledge, and progressing up the "levels" of the pyramid to Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and finally Evaluation. In the early 2000s, Bloom's original taxonomy was revised to move from static notions of educational objectives to action verbs, to better describe student cognitive processes. For example, Remembering became Remember, Comprehension became Understanding, Application became Applying, Analysis became Analyzing, Synthesis became Evaluating, and - perhaps most importantly - Evaluation became Creating.

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Bloom's New Digital Taxonomy is a further (but very important) revision made by Andrew Churches that incorporates technologies that are more aligned with the 21st century learner. This new taxonomy includes certain verbs the describe more accurately, how today's students might learn. For example, to Remember (lowest level cognition), students may highlight, duplicate, or visualize. To Create (highest level cognition), students may film, direct, or publish an original piece of research. The diagram below illustrates how students can Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate, and Create using digital tools:

Figure 1. Bloom's Taxonomy for the digital world. By Fractus Learning, 2014, via Creative Commons. Used under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0 International License. 

Figure 1. Bloom's Taxonomy for the digital world. By Fractus Learning, 2014, via Creative Commons. Used under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0 International License. 

This revision of Bloom's Taxonomy suggests that it's never too late to revise old systems to make them work for 21st century learners. We should have the same view when examining whether the current structures of our administrator preparation programs properly equip today's administrators to work in the modern university. We put future educational leaders at a disadvantage by not emphasizing technology as a means through which to learn and to create. Bloom's New Digital Taxonomy would be a helpful framework to consider when thinking about what kind of work we are asking students studying educational administration to produce and whether or not we are sufficiently incorporating technology as a means of producing that work.

Ideas for student projects that incorporate technology

  • Recording a podcast on administrative and/or higher education issues
  • Publishing a blog to reflect on their experience as a graduate student
  • Crafting an autoethnographic project that explores the student's personal motivation for studying educational administration and leadership
  • Designing a multi-media presentation on the effects of organizational alienation
  • Writing an original essay, study, or literature review on a topic of the student's choosing

Do you think Bloom's New Digital Taxonomy is a useful framework for educational administrator preparation programs? What are some ways to encourage students to create original pieces of research using technology?


Bloom's Taxonomy for the digital world - printable table. Retrieved from https://www.fractuslearning.com/2014/08/18/blooms-taxonomy-digital-print-table/ 

The Padagogy Wheel V5.0. Retrieved from https://designingoutcomes.com/assets/PadWheelV5/PW_ENG_V5.0_Apple_iOS_PRINT.pdf 

C. Valentine

Every Administrator Needs a Toolbox

When I first imagined this blog, I knew that I wanted to create something that educational administrators would find useful. One way that I thought I could do that is by creating a Toolbox section where I could post tutorials and interesting technology updates that might be beneficial for the research and/or practice of educational administration + leadership. I created these articles in part because I wish more ideas like this existed on the Internet. These are technologies, frameworks, and advice that I think are worth sharing and implementing in our own research & practice.

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Why should administrators live tweet at academic conferences? How can Bloom's New Digital Taxonomy be used in administrator preparation programs? Can we use Instagram to tell the stories of our universities? My goal in this space is to explore non-traditional uses of technologies to be used for administrative and school leadership purposes. I also want to offer how-to tutorials on crafting an administrative portfolio, starting a blog to discuss administrative issues, and recommend the best new products that I have found that make doing administrative work a whole lot easier (not to mention a lot more fun!). I'm looking forward to writing future toolbox articles, and hope that you find them useful. 

Let me know in the form below if there's something you want to see here and I'll happily give you credit if I end up writing an article about it!

C. Valentine

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