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My career has been shaped positively by listening to trusted educators share lessons they’ve learned. Gaylan Nielson and Betty Burks uniquely fit the bill of trusted as they share strategies that both help you avoid the many distractions educators face and focus your attention on what is really matters for learning to happen.
Stop Fake Work in Education provides school leaders with the mind-set and associated tool-set to keep the main thing the main thing. In the end it is all about student success and removing barriers and distractions from the schoolhouse so that school leaders and teachers can be laser-focused on student outcomes allows this to happen. School leaders that are looking for a “how-to-guide” to make this a reality should have this book on their bookshelf.
Work smarter, not harder, is the theme of this important book for leaders at all levels of education. Nielson and Burks keep the focus on the main thing, student success, while writing passionately about the features of Real Work and compassionately about the traps of Fake Work. The stories of real school leaders punctuate and bring to life the authors’ transformational design model. The 7 Paths to Real Work provide a clear, accessible, step-by-step approach to doing this work. The hands-on tools and templates will help you get started.
One question: Where was this book and information when I began my work in school administration? What a great resource! Whether you are a beginning teacher leader or a seasoned administrator, this book can make your life easier by recognizing and acknowledging the impact that high performing cultures have on student achievement and how to achieve that culture in your work. This book points to running on a treadmill and getting nowhere, ie Fake Work, but most importantly it points to the important strategies to do the real, meaningful, impactful work.
If they didn’t coin the terms “fake work” and “real work” in education, Nielsen and Burks certainly clarified them and their impact on the lives of students and those who serve them. Fake Work in Education provides educators with a clear purpose and path for moving from organizational addiction on the fake to systemwide focus on the real.
This book had me hooked as soon as I read the definition of Fake Work! As educators, we are passionate by nature. We are also notorious for putting a great amount of effort into all we do. Yet, how often do we stop and ask ourselves whether our efforts will be matched in value of the output of what we are working on? We don’t! We work and work and work, and look up only to realize that we haven’t moved nearly as far as we set out to.
As a school Superintendent for over two decades and a National Baldrige Examiner, I became consumed by a quote from W. Edwards Deming, “If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you are doing.” The greatest challenge in an organization aspiring to align with Deming’s systems approach is to take what many consider an abstract concept and translate to daily actions. The key for us was to help staff understand the concepts, but more importantly give them tools to implement.
As school districts strive to transform their organizations into systems based on trust, shared values, creativity, innovation, and respect, Stop Fake Work in Education: Creating Real Work Cultures That Drive Student Success, offers hope for a better way of working, planning, and collaborating – all focused on student success. Nielson and Burks have pooled their experiences and learning from the fields of education and business to offer readers more effective processes to create new paths to achieve results while transforming their cultures to true l
The book challenges leaders to aim our collective energy on what matters most in education, the students. The authors give us practical tools to help us let go of the Fake Work that is derailing high performing school cultures and lay out a path to ensure our Real Work priorities are strategic and successful.
In the world of education, teachers and administrators often deal with multiple initiatives and other demands on both their time and energy, making it so easy to get caught up in doing “fake work”. This book helps leaders fine tune their work so they can focus on what really matters - kids, what they are learning, and how we know they are learning it. The vignettes provided throughout illustrate the reality of the every day life of school leaders, showing the tools provided within the text really do help stop the “fake work”.
Nielson and Burks reframe the work of schools. They advocate that leaders become discerning and discriminate between fake work and meaningful work. Through scholarly writing, stories from the field, and charts, they have created a hands-on guide for culture building. As a principal and a superintendent this book would have been invaluable guide. Just the charts alone provide a powerful reflective tool for leaders.
Having worked with Betty Burk for many years, I have observed first-hand the effectiveness of the practices identified in this book. Mrs. Burk and Mr. Nielson share research that has allowed them to develop effective strategies focused on how leaders can maximize high-leverage approaches to their work as well as how to recognize distractors that can get in the way of success. This book is a great resource for anyone wanting to increase their effectiveness, by honing in on practices that yield positive results and managing work that can get in the way.
Gaylan Nielson and Betty Burks have nailed it! As acentral office administrator who received extensive training around the concept of “Fake Work” and its impact on people working harder but accomplishing less is now centered around the topic of education. As a superintendent of schools, I cannot wait to apply the strategies that lead to building a high-performance culture that drives student success through an emphasis on the “Real Work”. Finally, a book that is practical and easy to apply to the field of education.
Reflecting on the sense of urgency to “get it right” in our schools, the book has captured the essence of the real work that must be done to achieve that lofty goal. Commendations are offered, in that the book serves as a:
As a professional development consultant, I want to align the work we do with teachers and principals with district strategic plans. It's often difficult, if not impossible. Now I realize that it's because of Fake Work! When the strategic intent of the district is disconnected from the focus on student success, there is no purpose for professional learning. Nielson and Burks offer a way to cut through the often difficult processes of strategic planning with this thoughtful, fully developed yet concise guide to creating a plan around the real work of great schools.