Book Review – Permission to be Great by Dan Butler

Who doesn’t need permission to be great? According to Dan Butler in his new book Permission To Be Great: Increasing Engagement In Your School, we all need permission.

Let’s face it. The past two years of educating in a global pandemic has wrecked havoc on every aspect of teaching, learning and leading. This is exactly why Dan Butler wrote the book. He realizes that we have a seemingly insurmountable amount of factors that are impacting the future of teaching and learning.

Because everyone in the school setting can build skill from the content provided in this book, this was written for all educators, including current and aspiring school leaders. ~ Dan Butler 

Dan’s permission begins with a very overlooked and underused application… a how to use the book. In the How to use  section, he outlines four specific “look for” or “intentions.”

  1. Stories from the field – Learn about success stories from educators, students and families all over the world.
  2. Practical research, leadership and experiences – Dan provides easily to understand research to ground his theories and assertations.
  3. Enlightenment enhancers – Each chapter concludes with 4 simple and impactful ways you can implement the information right away in your classroom, school or district.
  4. Caring for you –  Dan gets educators. We are in the service industry and spend many hours caring for others. What are we doing for our own self care? Throughout the book he outlines 8 tactics that are simple and effective to help you fill your own bucket.

Chapter 1 – The Problem

This chapter is focused on the overarching problem facing education today… burnout. Throughout the chapter, Dan provides a rationale for how we got into this “problem” and more importantly, how we can take control again.

Chapter 2 – Balancing workload, control and autonomy 

In recent years we have begun to wear our business with pride. Just take a look through social media and you can see numerous examples of all types of folks discussing how they are up at 4:00 AM, have 17 side hustles, workout for 3 hours, spend time with their family and eat like a champion. What impact does this have on others? Well, it has had the adverse effect of motivation. In fact people feel guilty for just saying no to an event or sitting on the couch and decompressing. Dan provides ways to stay motivated and to put in processes that protect your precious time.

Chapter 3 – Practicing encouragement, recognition and appreciation 

This chapter is full of examples and innovative ideas on how to take your passion to the next level. Whether you are a teacher or an administrator, there are numerous easy to implement strategies that will have you filling others buckets while not draining your own.

Chapter 4 – Building community and relationships 

Dan spends a considerable amount of time in this chapter focusing on the aspects of a health community. Faced with a shutdown of the school for two to four weeks, Dan recounts the early days of pandemic education and what he learned from the experience. He and his team put in many successful initiatives during this experience to put community first.

Chapter 5 – Focusing on values and fairness

When was the last time that you or your team or district spent time exploring what they value? In this chapter, Dan provides a very systemic process that anyone can use to determine what their team values. In addition, he provides guidance on what to do with that information once you have collected it.

Dan concludes Permission to Be Great with a very touching story about what teaching and learning is all about. It definitely brings everything together from the book and answers the question on why we need permission to be great.

If you would like to purchase this book, click here.

About the Author

Spike Cook, Ed.D., Principal, Lakeside Middle School, Millville, NJ. In addition to being a Principal, Dr. Cook published two books through Corwin Press (Connected Leadership: It’s Just a Click AwayBreaking Out of Isolation: Becoming a Connected School Leader). He is the co-host of the popular PrincipaPLN podcast and his blog, Insights Into Learning, was recognized as a finalist for Best Administrator Blog by the EduBlog Awards. Spike earned his Doctorate from Rowan University and is an Adjunct Faculty member in the Masters of School Administration Program He is featured in Twinkl’s 30 Education Influencers You Need to Follow and Klear’s Top Ten Middle School Influencers. Dr. Cook is also on the Education Advisory Board for Whole Health Ed. Connect with @drspikecook via Twitter, YouTube,  LinkedInFacebook or Instagram.

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