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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Checking Our P.U.L.S.E. for Kids: A Personal and Practical Guide to Effective Educational Leadership by Robert Nelson is a non-fiction self-help book that utilizes the steps in its titular acronym to reassess and strengthen the role of the chief administrator in school environments. For most, this role is that of a principal. Nelson delivers P.U.L.S.E. in five stages through the book: Principal, Unity, Leadership Capacity, Students, and Extra. These parts are broken down further into concise chapters, with each chapter having the same construct regardless of the topic. They begin with a prefaced quote and a “P.U.L.S.E. Check” that is chapter specific and highlights three key components in relation to the individual leader. Nelson elaborates and injects anecdotal stories, personal experiences, and photographs throughout.
As the son of a principal myself, I was intrigued when I came across Robert Nelson's Checking Our P.U.L.S.E. My mother may not be at the desk any longer but the memories of her pacing, calling, and endless nights shifting through file after file after file remain with me today. Nelson narrates with the authority of a seasoned professional but with the grace of a friend, one who wants to make sure you are using all the tools available in and out of the classroom to give everyone who depends on you the greatest shot at success. These range from the seemingly small, such as keeping the “dog” in all of us in check even when at odds with colleagues, officials, or anyone else in question, to much larger overhauls such as the implementing of Active Learning, a method that is staff-guided but student-led in order to make education and interactions with the material more relatable. There's a lot in this book that will probably apply universally to virtually any leadership role in any field or industry, and I sure do wish my mother had had Checking Our P.U.L.S.E. for Kids at hand decades ago. Lucky for the leaders of today, it's here now.