A few weeks ago, my good friend and Director of Innovation for Future Ready Schools, Tom Murray, published his new book, Personal & Authentic: Designing Learning Experiences That Impact a Lifetime. After reading an advanced copy, I can recommend this book without hesitation. Here's some of what's included.
- Foreword by Inky Johnson – Highlighted by ESPN’s 30 for 30 films for his courage, Inky Johnson’s story is one of perseverance through severe adversity. Sleeping on the floor most nights while growing up in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the United States, Inky credits a teacher with saving his life and recognizes his teacher’s impact on his life decades later. Here’s a snapshot of what you’ll read in the foreword:
I’m a firm believer that things don’t happen to you. They happen for you. The funny thing about my injury was that my life found new meaning and new purpose. Instead of the injury serving as a curse, it has served as a blessing. It’s an opportunity. You see, my arm may be paralyzed, but my heart isn’t. My mind isn’t. My attitude isn’t. The same arm the doctor told me I would never use again because of paralysis, I now use every day of my life. I believe you are not defined by your circumstances or your situation. You are defined by your decisions and your choices. Every day I make a decision to make my life count. Every day I’m going to work to inspire someone. Every day I’m going to work to encourage someone. As an educator, you get to do the same.
- The Personal & Authentic Framework – Designed with implementation in mind, the Personal & Authentic Framework solidifies the “what” and the “how” in creating the types of learning experiences that impact a lifetime. With the learner at the center, and held together by relationships and a culture for learning, the various ways in which teachers can make learning personal and authentic can be amplified. These include: Social-Emotional Learning; Culturally Responsive; Moments of Awe; Relevant & Contextualized; Interests, Passions, & Strengths; Creation & Design; Flexible Pace & Path; and Authentic Feedback. Supports for the process include the spaces in which kids learn and the tools in which they use, both of which either amplify or hinder the learner in the experience.
- Co-Authored Sections On Some of Today’s Most Important Issues – In understanding the limits of his own lens, Tom included two co-authored sections to amplify the respected voices and insights of Ken Shelton and Dr. Rosa Perez-Isiah, on overcoming equity barriers and how culturally responsive teaching is the only option.
- “Stop & Reflect” Questions – Throughout each chapter, a variety of “Stop & Reflect” questions encourage users to do just that…pause for a few moments and self-reflect on their mindset and practices.
- “Make it Stick” / “Try This…” – In understanding the importance of being practical, while simultaneously amplifying great ideas from a diverse group of educators, Personal & Authentic includes the thoughts and innovative ideas of over 50 educators who will encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. Each “Make it Stick” gives you practical ideas to try in your classroom or school – starting tomorrow. At the end of most sections, each “Try this…” gives you additional ways to implement what’s been read into everyday practice. Personal & Authentic contains over 150 innovative and practical ideas for your school or classroom!
- “A Closer Look” & Free Book Study Resources – Designed to support the professional growth of your team, a comprehensive compilation of free additional videos, articles, and downloadables are available on the Personal & Authentic website. Whether you use the “Personal & Authentic Poster” to symbolically capture and frame your team’s fingerprints, or you utilize many of the videos or articles Tom uses in his training workshops, all that you need to run your next book study has been created for you to use – for free.
And, here are a few endorsements from education leaders:
“In Personal & Authentic, Tom Murray taps into some of the deepest emotions we all share and know are essential as educators and parents. He helps us to focus on the relationships that we develop with children and adults, the self-reflection that we learn quickly is so important, and the impact we make on our schools and communities. After you read this book, you will become a better teacher and leader. And if not, you might want to read it again!” – Salome Thomas-EL, award-winning principal, speaker, and author
“The story always wins. The most impactful learning has always been personal and authentic. Murray does a masterful job of weaving both the gripping story of educators and the opportunities for them to increase their impact on students. The text takes the reader on an emotional ride but also provides the challenge and resources to get better. The ideas jump off the page and will help anyone rediscover both the why and how to improve their space. This book is an essential piece of every educator’s toolbox and one I know I’ll go back to often.” – Joe Sanfelippo, PhD, superintendent, author, and speaker
“Personal & Authentic is a true reflection of the title. Tom not only shares stories that share his core values and beliefs through the personal stories that he tells, but the tips he includes from other educators show a glimpse of their core values and beliefs as well. If you are looking for a read that cuts straight to the middle and touches the heart, but then leads to actionable results that will transform you as an educator and the relationships and experiences you encounter each day, Personal & Authentic is your go-to resource. This book will help you reflect, recharge, and refocus on the most important aspects of education – relationships and relevant learning experiences.” – Sanée Bell, EdD, principal, speaker, author of Be Excellent on Purpose: Intentional Strategies for Impactful Leadership