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Change Leadership: A Practical Guide to Transforming Our Schools

Change Leadership: A Practical Guide to Transforming Our Schools

Tony Wagner, Robert Kegan, Lisa Laskow Lahey, Richard W. Lemons, Jude Garnier, Deborah Helsing, Annie Howell, Harriette Thurber Rasmussen, Tom Vander Ark (Foreword by)

ISBN: 978-1-118-42951-8

Jun 2012, Jossey-Bass

304 pages



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.

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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.


  • 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