School is about to finish for another year, you are finalising your accounts, writing thank you notes to your volunteers and about to relax after a successful summer fair. Perhaps you can switch off from school altogether, or possibly recent experience has spurred you to build your school community to even more ambitious levels or at least repeat last year’s success with much less effort!
Here is a list of our five favourite books for summer reading.
The Art of Gatherings by Priya Parker
A major part of our role on a PTA or Parent Association is to help parents connect and engage in the school community. Face to face time with other parents is vital for building trust, friendships for our children and ourselves and ultimately a thriving school. We are often shouldered with the responsibility of creating gatherings from a casual coffee morning to a large fundraising ball. Although often running these events is very rewarding, at other times one wonders why we bother. I was super fortunate to attend a lecture by gatherings guru Priya Parker at the Royal Society of Arts in London recently. Apparently there is an art and science to running successful events or ‘gatherings’. We were all mesmorized, by her amazing presence, her anecdotes and words of wisdom.
In the ‘Art of Gathering, how we meet and why it matters’ Priya Parker argues that the gatherings in our lives are often vague and unproductive. In her book Parker “sets forth a human-centred approach to gathering that can help everyone create meaningful, memorable experiences in their lives, large and small, for work and for play.”
This book is full of exciting ideas and real world applications - and will forever alter the way you look at your next season of school events in addition to your next bbq or child’s birthday party.
Buzzing Communities by Richard Millington
At Classlist we consider parent association members and class reps as community managers. A highly skilled job that has value beyond the school gate. Richard Millington runs Feverbee, a community management consultancy that advises companies all around the world.
His book ‘Buzzing Communities’ sets out tricks of the trade how to get people to participate and keep a community thriving and sustainable. It is super easy to read, not loaded with jargon and will appeal to anyone starting out on their journey as a community manager (or PTA committee member) all the way up to those that have been around for a while.
Richard offers techniques that can create an environment where parents will be lining up to volunteer.
Inside the Nudge Unit by David Halpern
This book gives great insight into behaviour science. Aside from the political bent it is an interesting read for anyone involved in wanting to change for social good. Those who stand up and take on roles on the PTAs or as a Class Rep are unsung superheroes. At the very least you are a ‘nano influencer’, an influencer of 30 people or more so by reading this you will be able to enhance your superpowers. This book describes how we are nudged to do what we do by the powers above. Fascinating and scary at the same time.
Who can you trust by Rachel Botsman
School communities can be the most trusted tribe in one’s life. I would argue more so than neighbours, work and other spheres of life. Rachel Botsman is an academic at Oxford who is an expert on the shared economy and as we move more into a digital existence how that impacts who we can trust. She explains how trust is shifting from institutional (governments, media, church etc…) to distributed (online communities, shared resources, and new tech like blockchain). Rachel is one of the world’s top TED presenters, her book is highly entertaining, an easy read where writes about blockchain and the Chinese social scoring system in a thrilling and page turning style. Closer to home, how platforms are stepping over the trust gap in sensitive areas such as childcare.
Big little lies by Liane Moriaty
Many of you may have watched this series on Sky. If you haven’t, I recommend you read the book. Witty and, in places, dark, this book follows three Sydney mums, Jane, Madeline and Celeste in the lead-up to the school trivia night, where a murder takes place.There are more subtleties of character and more plot trusts than the TV series. A highly enjoyable read. Definitely one to take by the pool. You may venture near the school gate again.