About The Main Idea

Jenn David-Lang founded THE MAIN IDEA in the spring of 2007 because she witnessed too many school leaders who were so busy with the day to day responsibilities of running their schools and organizations, that they had no time for their own professional development. Through THE MAIN IDEA, education leaders have ready access to the most current and powerful ideas in education to help them serve as strong instructional leaders.

At THE MAIN IDEA we believe that school leadership is most successful when it is focused on instruction and learning. For this reason, we choose books that help school leaders develop a strong repertoire of effective ideas and practices to help teachers improve student achievement.

Jenn has worked in the field of education for over 30 years. She has had a wide range of experiences in both teaching and administration. She founded and directed Providence Summerbridge, a nonprofit to raise the academic achievement of urban middle school students; she taught both math and English; she created and provided professional development for educators; and she has helped to start a number of New York City schools. Currently, Jenn runs Masterminds (online groups of school and district leaders who learn together) and leads professional learning for leaders in addition to running The Main Idea.

Jenn received her principal’s certification and Ed.M. from the Bank Street College of Education. Through all of these experiences, she has seen firsthand that principals just don’t have enough time to keep abreast of the latest ideas in education.

Please contact Jenn David-Lang at Jenn@TheMainIdea.net with comments or suggestions.


What exactly does a subscription to THE MAIN IDEA include?

With a year-long subscription to THE MAIN IDEA you receive 8-10 new book summaries along with over 170 book summaries and workshops in the archives.

What is the difference between an individual leader and aspiring leader subscription?

You get exactly the same access, but I shaved off $10 for those of you on the path to leadership (in graduate school, in a teacher-leader position, etc.) I don’t check, so you decide which subscription fits you!

What types of education books do you summarize?

I summarize education books from the last year or two which contain practical suggestions for improving the following areas: Accountability and Assessment; Curriculum, Instruction and Pedagogy; Data-Driven Decision-Making; Differentiation; English Language Learners; Leadership; Literacy; Mathematics; Multicultural Issues; Professional Development; School Culture/Climate; Special Ed; and Supervision. These are not theoretical books. Instead, expect to read a summary and immediately get ideas for improving your school.

Why read education books in addition to reading journal articles?

Journal articles capture the gist of new education ideas, while education books fully outline what they involve and how to implement them. THE MAIN IDEA chooses a limited number of compelling education books and introduces those to school leaders.

What are the top 8 ways to use the summaries?

  1. Use the knowledge you gain from reading book summaries to give teachers and leaders better feedback.
  2. Make individual book recommendations to teachers and school leaders.
  3. Use part of your staff meetings to discuss book summaries.
  4. Adapt the PD ideas at the end of the book summaries to lead PD with your teachers or other school leaders.
  5. Set up volunteer school-wide book clubs for school leaders, teachers, or even parents!
  6. Read through book summaries to choose ONE book for all staff to read over the summer.
  7. If you send out a newsletter, include a new section, “What the Principal is Reading Now” with a quote from the book.
  8. For the end of year or holidays, buy all teachers a book as a gift — read through summaries to choose the right one!

Who reads the summaries?

Being a principal is one of the most demanding jobs there is. For this reason, the summaries are designed with the busy principal in mind. They are also designed for other school leaders who deal with instruction — assistant principals, department chairs, academic coaches, lead teachers, superintendents, district office personnel, and others. It is also useful for those who train school leaders and teachers to stay abreast of the current education literature.

Do people still want to read the entire book after reading a summary?

Absolutely! The summaries can help you choose which books to read in their entirety.

How can a summary contain all of the ideas of a book?

Education books often contain a few large ideas, and then provide a number of examples and explanations of those points. THE MAIN IDEA highlights those key ideas and then provides enough of the details and examples to make you feel like you’ve read the book.

What’s the difference between a summary and a review?

Reviews are not only much shorter, but they cover both powerful and less effective education books. THE MAIN IDEA’s summaries make you feel like you’ve read an entire book and I only include the MOST IMPACTFUL books that can help you improve your school or district tomorrow.

Can I send copies of THE MAIN IDEA’s summaries to colleagues?

THE MAIN IDEA’s summaries are copyrighted, and may not be copied or distributed without our permission. However, there is an option to subscribe as a group so the summaries will be shared with an entire department, administrative team, organization, or all of the leaders in a district.

Do you still have an unanswered question?

Feel free to email Jenn at Jenn@TheMainIdea.net.

What People are Saying About The Main Idea

“Principals and other front-line educators find it very difficult to read professional books and magazines during the school year. They look balefully at the teetering guilt pile on the corner of their desks and berate themselves for not staying on top of the latest thinking in a fast-moving field. Jenn David-Lang has part of the solution: she writes a cogent summary of a carefully selected book and sends it to subscribers by e-mail each month. What seemed impossible is now within reach.”

—Kim Marshall, The Marshall Memo (www.MarshallMemo.com) and former Principal, Mather Elementary School

“THE MAIN IDEA is a brilliant and long overdue idea. As a principal who prides himself on being an instructional leader and keeping up on the latest educational books, but lives the busy life of a school leader, this is exactly what I have been waiting for. Great books. Great summaries. Great professional development ideas. Too good to be true.”

—Mark Federman, Principal, East Side Community High School, NYC

“Jenn David-Lang has the heart of a teacher, the brain of a think tank, and the patience of a librarian. THE MAIN IDEA puts all these talents together to cut through the word weeds in the edu-press, and shows us the flowers that have the power to make our classrooms and schools brighter and better.”

— Norman Atkins, Founder and CEO, Relay Graduate School of Education

“There is a real need for what you do – just like the “Executive Book Summaries” in the business community — teachers and administrators are incredibly busy and need a way to get access to these books.”

— Douglas B. Reeves, Ph.D., The Leadership and Learning Center

“Jenn David-Lang is a person of intelligence and good sense whose experience in education is considerable and varied.  THE MAIN IDEA is a good idea that is both interesting and useful.”

— former Brown University Professor Emeritus and Lecturer at the Harvard Graduation School of Education, Ted and Nancy Sizer

Free Sample Summary

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