Book Review: The Ball

I was conducting a workshop for ROE #3 in Vandalia, Illinois. I always include in my presentations a showcase on what I am currently reading. The book I share is always different, but it springboards some great conversations about the reading favorites of others in the audience. At this particular workshop, another administrator quietly shared with me during a break the book that impacted him the most.

As I typically do, I wrote down the title, added it to my Amazon cart, and since it was summer, decided I had the time to purchase it and read it. I am so glad I did. Not shortly after Amazon Prime delivered it to my home, I was planning on a road trip with some friends a couple hours a way. As passenger in the car, I was able to knock out this book in transit to our destination.

Now, if you have been in education for any length of time, you know that Todd Whitaker knows his stuff, but this book was quite a bit different than what I am used to with his work. In “The Ball” he tells the story of a burnt out teacher with a renewed sense of passion sharing her knowledge and insights with a struggling former student.

Throughout the book, the teacher shares her own perspective on how she allowed mandates, demands on her time, and new initiatives to take her focus off her students and intuition when it came to teaching. She found a new sense of purpose in her life and career. In a chance meeting with a former student, she recognized her own pain in his story and through a conversation they both resolved to “keep their eyes on the ball” and ignore the external distractions and focus on what matters most: People and Relationships.

Some of my takeaways included;

  1. Maintaining focus on my ‘why’ during times and situations that are challenging.
  2. Not allowing external distractions to shift my attention from the most important tenets of my job or philosophies as an educator.
  3. Making intentional decisions to maintain balance and focus on my ‘ball’ with all the priorities in my life.
  4. Reflecting on the traditions in my life and school and consider renewing any that have gone to the wayside as a result of distractions or external stimuli.
  5. Continue to make a conscious effort to remind staff about our ‘ball’ and promote relationships and connections with our students and families.
  6. Remember that “we don’t win or lose a single game, it’s about playing the right way and having fun doing it.”

This short, but sweet book reinvigorates and refreshes the psyche to focus on key organization goals and resources. I will keep it on my bookshelf in my professional library as a resource for reminding myself to always keep sight of what’s vital and important.

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