Dancing in the Rain

Dancing in the Rain Leading with Compassion, Vitality, and Mindfulness in Education

Jerome T. Murphy, Foreword by Christopher Germer
paper, 288 Pages
Pub. Date: October 2016
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-962-4
Price: $33.00

Add to Cart

Pub. Date: October 2016
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-964-8

Add to Cart

Dancing in the Rain offers a lively and accessible guide aimed at helping education leaders thrive under pressure by developing the inner strengths of mindfulness and self-compassion, expressing emotions wisely, and maintaining a clear focus on the values that matter most. Jerome T. Murphy, a scholar and former dean who has written and taught about the inner life of education leaders, argues that the main barrier to thriving as leaders is not the outside pressures we face, but how we respond to them inside our minds and hearts.


Dancing in the Rain compellingly makes the case for being fully present, leaning in, and living one’s values. This book is such a gift for educational leaders. — Ari Betof, head of school, Boston University Academy, and lecturer, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education

Informed by rich experience and wise discernment, this practical and inspiring book leads educators to seamlessly combine their outer lives of service with the inner life of contemplation. Murphy has brilliantly translated contemplative principles and practices into the language of education and leadership. — Mirabai Bush, senior fellow, Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, and author, Contemplative Practices in Higher Education: Powerful Methods to Transform Teaching and Learning

For years, I struggled with the demands of being a principal while caring for my mother with Alzheimer’s. On the outside, I appeared all together, while the real me struggled in silence. No one ever told me to care for myself—until this life-changing book. I’m no Beyoncé, but I’m learning to dance in the rain. — Karen Marie Byron-Johnson, principal, Whitney M. Young Leadership Academy, Cleveland, Ohio

The superintendent has one of the most difficult jobs in America. Jerry Murphy provides practical and thoughtful advice on how to effectively address the critical challenges school district leaders face on an everyday basis. — Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA, The School Superintendents Association

Murphy has written a book of wisdom, insight, and immense helpfulness, which promotes personal and social compassion. A wonderful guide for effective, supportive, and creative leadership in educational contexts. — Paul Gilbert, author, The Compassionate Mind: A New Approach to Life’s Challenges

In Dancing in the Rain, Jerry Murphy has written a thoroughly engaging, lucid, and pragmatic book exploring the benefits of mindfulness and compassion in our professional and everyday lives. It is an inspiring testament to how our inner work can inform our engagement with others. — Joseph Goldstein, author, Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening

Grounded in solid science, this profound book gets right to the heart of important inner resources for any educator. With a warm, encouraging, and very readable style, Murphy shows how to live and work with inner strength and inner peace, with good humor and grace. — Rick Hanson, author, Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence

In this practical and wise book, a trustworthy ally makes accessible what is essential. Dancing in the Rain serves as an expert field guide to transformational leadership from the inside out, developing sustainable inner capacities that help us lead in turbulent times with the power of presence, perspective, and purpose. — Tobin Hart, professor of psychology, and author, The Four Virtues: Presence, Heart, Wisdom, Creation and The Integrative Mind: Transformative Education for a World on Fire

This kind book takes the core of what we are learning in the science of acceptance, self-compassion, mindfulness, and values and gently puts it in the hands of the reader, one key feature at a time. There is a way that things work—personally and in our leadership roles. The core of it has been known in our wisdom traditions for eons, but in the modern world we need it to be simplified, tested, and made relevant and accessible. This book does exactly that. Highly recommended. — Steven C. Hayes, codeveloper of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and author, Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Dean Jerome Murphy provides an invaluable, lyrical, and extremely practical guide for all who seek to lead with wisdom. He even shows hard-charging people how to enjoy the fruits of their labor! Dancing in the Rain is a fabulous, richly useful book. — Ronald Heifetz, founding director, Center for Public Leadership, and King Hussein bin Talal Senior Lecturer in Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School

Dancing in the Rain takes a fresh look at leadership and its challenges. Peppered with real-life stories, the book chronicles Murphy’s own transformation as he learned to apply mindfulness and self-compassion to his leadership. His stories will help you align your work with your values, slow down and be present with the ups and downs of your work, take time to nourish yourself and learn to safely express your emotions with authenticity. It is a must-read for anyone in a leadership position. — Patricia A. Jennings, associate professor, University of Virginia, and author, Mindfulness for Teachers: Simple Skills for Peace and Productivity in the Classroom

A wise distillation of deep insights and practices which, if implemented, will go far to transforming lives and organizations, and thus, the world. — Jon Kabat-Zinn, author, Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness

Practical and wise. Doing the exercises will help you unstress and lead with understanding and heart. — Jack Kornfield, author, A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life

I wish that the gentle wisdom and guidance that Dancing in the Rain provides had been available to me sooner. I highly recommend this book for leaders who wish to lead in soulful and mindful ways; for leaders who dare to go inward in ways that help inform their outer work in the world. May this help them flourish and thrive. — Linda Lantieri, cofounder and senior program advisor, Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)

Rich with anecdotes from his own experience as dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, this wise new book on mindful leadership explores the common mental traps of leading educational organizations: our resistances and our tendencies to ruminate and rebuke ourselves. Murphy then offers compassionate guidance, and dozens of exercises, in his own heartfelt voice, about coming back to center and being in the ‘dance.’ A lovely and accessible book for educational leaders. — Kirsten Olson, coauthor, The Mindful School Leader: Practices to Transform Your Leadership and School

In this compassionate and wise book, Murphy shares years of experience as an educator, manager, and leader. He examines both the internal and external burdens of leadership as well as skillful ways to stay focused and kind to both oneself and others. He writes as if he were talking with the reader over a cup of coffee. But, his ideas are fresh and psychologically sophisticated. This is a must-read book for leaders, administrators, and anyone who has a position of authority and visibility. — Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls

Essential reading for education leaders and administrators—a wise, compassionate, open-hearted guide to leading with insight and care. Jerry Murphy offers a sophisticated yet simple and accessible distillation of principles that will benefit others immeasurably. — Lizabeth Roemer, professor of psychology, University of Massachusetts Boston, and coauthor, Worry Less, Live More: The Mindful Way through Anxiety Workbook

Dancing in the Rain is a welcome contribution to the world of education. Here is a practical set of tools that educational leaders can call on for support and strength in challenging times. The stresses of leadership don’t seem likely to lessen—what good fortune that the skills for handling such stress are becoming more widely available. — Sharon Salzberg, author, Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness and Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation

Dancing in the Rain is a gift for school leaders. Jerry Murphy’s wisdom, humor, and humility shine through every page, reflecting his own leadership journey. It’s a vital resource, including a toolkit of exercises and practices that support leaders in navigating variable weather patterns while still enjoying the dance. — Pamela Seigle, executive director, Courage & Renewal Northeast, Wellesley College

For every educator daring to lead in these daunting times, here is an honest, helpful, and hopeful book on how to do it with mind and heart from one who has seen it, taught it, done it—danced it—and lived to tell the tale. — Diana Chapman Walsh, president emerita, Wellesley College

Exercising leadership in public education is like managing the Boston Red Sox—everyone tells us how to do our job. Murphy sees us as human beings grappling with difficult jobs, and compassionately offers practical insights on how to take care of ourselves while we are busy taking care of everyone else. An absorbing book, a must-read for administrators. — Jeffrey M. Young, superintendent of schools, Cambridge, MA Public Schools

While reading Dancing in the Rain: Leading with Compassion, Vitality, and Mindfulness in Education, we kept thinking of all the people we wanted to buy this book for. It is that relevant...Readers interested in learning how to better deal with emotional upheavals should read this work. — Zorka Karanxha, William R. Black & David Fisher, Teachers College Record

This book draws our attention to the humanity of all educators...I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn how to better care for themselves in the midst of life’s demands. — Carolyn Helsel, Reflective Teaching

Dancing in the Rain is a practical and delightful guide for education leaders. — Susan M. Kardos, Journal of Jewish Education

More Less

About the Author

Jerome T. Murphy is the Harold Howe II Professor of Education Emeritus and Dean Emeritus at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His current teaching and research focuses on the inner life of education leaders and how to find meaning and vitality in the midst of stress and strain.

A graduate of Columbia College and Columbia Teachers College and coming from a family of proud teachers, Murphy started his career with two rewarding years as a public school math teacher. He then unexpectedly got a job working for the federal government as part of the War on Poverty. He was part of a team that helped develop the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, and he later spent an unforgettable year as the Associate Director of the White House Fellows Program and the Associate Staff Director of the National Advisory Council on the Education of Disadvantaged Children. During these heady days in Washington, his eyes were opened to the nuances of leadership as he observed up close how political leaders and dedicated civil servants actually engage in principled politics in the pursuit of noble ends.

Shortly after Richard Nixon was elected president, Murphy moved on to become a doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and has been there ever since, but for a delightful two years as a Visiting Professor at the Penn Graduate School of Education.

Drawing on his seven years in public schooling and government service, Murphy turned his attention to studying and writing about the everyday reality of how things actually work in education. He became a specialist in the politics of education, with a focus on government policy, program implementation and evaluation, organizational leadership, and qualitative methodology.

Murphy conducted some of the earliest studies of the implementation of the Great Society education programs and the role of the states in educational policy and governance; he contributed to novel data-collection techniques in educational evaluation. Along the way, he has written books and articles about these topics as well as about schools of education, about the lives of education leaders, and about the changing roles of school superintendents and chief state school officers. Murphy has also examined educational policy and practices in Australia, China, Colombia, England, Japan, and South Africa and has given presentations at research meetings in Denmark, Israel, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, and Thailand.

For almost twenty years, Murphy was a full-time administrator at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, first as Associate Dean from 1982 to 1991 and then as Dean from 1992 to 2001. As Dean, Murphy led the development of new initiatives in learning technologies, arts education, neuroscience, and school leadership. He also led a capital campaign, which almost doubled the hoped-for goal, and was honored at Harvard with an endowed chair named after him.

Throughout his career, Murphy has aspired to live up to a definition he once heard describing a professor—namely, someone who “thinks otherwise” and challenges prevailing views about what’s important and what deserves attention. In his teaching, he urged students to think otherwise by being troublemakers, stirring things up and fighting for their values—just like Nelson Mandela, whose given name in his native language is “troublemaker.” In his research, Murphy thought otherwise by writing about policy implementation when research focused mainly on policy development; about state government when researchers were preoccupied with the federal government; about qualitative methods as a complement to quantitative methods; about the unheroic side of leadership, when bigger-than-life leaders were lionized; and, most recently, about the inner lives of education leaders when their training programs and supporting research studies often overlook the inside-the-skin challenges of leadership.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Christopher Germer


Author Interview: EdCast

E-book available through online booksellers

Other books in Leadership, General

The Instructional Leadership Cycle

Daniel Allen, Foreword by Lee Teitel

Other books in Leadership, General

Entry Planning for Equity-Focused Leaders

Jennifer Perry Cheatham, Rodney Thomas, and Adam Parrott-Sheffer, Foreword by Carl A. Cohn

Other books in Leadership, General

Students First

Paul LeBlanc, Foreword by Bridget Terry Long

Books From This Author