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Change Leadership: A Practical Guide to Transforming Our Schools



Change Leadership: A Practical Guide to Transforming Our Schools

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The Change Leadership Group at the Harvard School of Education has, through its work with educators, developed a thoughtful approach to the transformation of schools in the face of increasing demands for accountability. This book brings the work of the Change Leadership Group to a broader audience, providing a framework to analyze the work of school change and exercises that guide educators through the development of their practice as agents of change. It exemplifies a new and powerful approach to leadership in schools.



About the Authors.

ONE: Introduction: Reframing the Problem.

A Knowledge Economy Requires New Skills for All Students.

Greater Supports for Learning in a Changing Society.

Reform or Reinvention? Technical Challenges Versus Adaptive Challenges.

Organizational Beliefs and Behaviors.

Individual Beliefs and Behaviors.

Accepting the Challenge and the Risks:Moving Toward Communities of Practice via Collaborative Learning.

PART ONE: Improving Instruction.

TWO: Creating a Vision of Success.

Challenges to Improving Instruction.

Seven Disciplines for Strengthening Instruction.

Using the Seven Disciplines.

Launching an Instructional Improvement System: The Critical First Conversations.

Developing a Shared Vision.

Defining a New Framework for Effective Instruction.

Linking the New 3 R’s of Instruction.

THREE: Committing Ourselves to the Challenge.

Identifying Your Commitment.

Spotting Your Obstacles Through Self-Reflection.


PART TWO: Why Is This So Hard?

FOUR: Generating Momentum for Change.

Obstacles to Improvement Versus Momentum for Improvement.

Generating the Momentum for Systemic Change.

Communities of Practice as a Strategy.

FIVE: Exploring Individual Immunities to Change.

Attending to Countering Behaviors.

A Deeper Look.

Finding the Competing Commitment.

Taking the Next Step.


PART THREE: Thinking Systemically.

SIX Relating the Parts to the Whole.

Arenas of Change.

Toward Transformation: Using the 4 C’s.

Another Use for the 4 C’s.

SEVEN: The Individual as a Complex System.

Hidden Commitments and Personal Immunities.

Big Assumptions and Immunities.


PART FOUR: Working Strategically.

EIGHT: The Ecology of Change.

Phases of Whole-System Change.

Change Levers: Data, Accountability, and Relationships.

Strategic Change in Action.

Putting the Pieces Together: The Ecology of Educational Transformation.

Measuring Success and the Challenge of High-Stakes Test Scores.

NINE: Overturning Your Immunities to Change.

Steps Toward Individual Change.

Considering Steps for the Most Powerful Learning.

Phases in Overturning Your Immunities.

Becoming Fully Released from Immunities to Change.


TEN: Conclusion: Bringing the Outward and Inward Focus Together.

Hold High Expectations for All Our Students.

Involve Building and Central Office Administrators in Instruction.

Choose a Priority and Stay Relentlessly Focused on It.

Foster a Widespread Feeling of Urgency for Change.

Encourage a New Kind of Leader.

Develop a New Kind of Administrative Team.

Shining a Broader Light on Change.

Implications for the Change Leader: Toward Adaptive Work.

Concluding . . . or Commencing?


A. Team Exercises.

B. Recommended Reading.


Harvard Graduate School of Education Change Leadership Group Learn about the framework and approach, programs and services of the Change Leadership Group.
  • Offers a proven, practical approach to leading system-wide school change
  • Provides frameworks for individual and organizational transformation
  • Walks readers through the three major phases of the change process
  • Connects leadership to improvement in classroom teaching
  • Foreword by Tom Vander Ark, Executive Director, Education, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation