Leading Change Together: Developing Educator Capacity Within Schools and Systems
reviewed by Elizabeth Davenport & Betty J. Howard - October 24, 2018
Title: Leading Change Together: Developing Educator Capacity Within Schools and Systems
Author(s): Eleanor Drago-Severson & Jessica Blum-DeStefano
Publisher: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Alexandria, VA
ISBN: 141662497X, Pages: 176, Year: 2018
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In their book, Leading Change Together: Developing Educator Capacity Within School Systems, authors Ellen Drago-Severson and Jessica Blum DeStefano pose the question: how do school teachers, leaders, and other members of the school community facilitate and respond to the changing educational needs of today's students?
According to the authors, adult learning and professional development are linked to student growth, outcomes, and educational experiences. In order to facilitate this growth and development, the authors present a model of five overlapping elements of change: theory, culture, and the pillar practices of collaboration, feedback, and sustainability. They also present three capacities necessary for change: (a) getting a better perspective on ourselves, others, and the systems in which we live and work; (b) connecting more deeply and meaningfully with colleagues and other stakeholders; and (c) continuing to learn, teach, lead, and adapt as the world changes and evolves.
The authors also argue that if we connect two kinds of learning, informational and transformational, we gain a deeper understanding of adult development and of the fundamental principles of constructive-developmental theory. Informational learning is traditional book learning, while transformational learning involves a deep shift in the basic premises of our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Both are essential to adult learning and help us meet complex challenges.
The foundation of the authors argument is that successful, competent leaders must increasingly find ways to include and engage others as part of a powerful community of learners capable of competently meeting today's complex challenges. According to the authors, problems occur when leaders find themselves stuck within pre-existing systems and exclusionary power structures. When leaders accept developmental intentionality, they are able to productively work in teams to explore and grow from diverse perspectives. The authors argue that working in teams enhances the experiences of educators at every level and is an excellent way for adults to help each other learn. Working in teams can also decrease isolation, improve communication, engender innovation, and promote a more collective approach to leadership and supervisory processes.
One of the weaknesses of this text is that it fails to fully discuss the isolation of teachers, leaders, and the general community in todays educational environment. Our world is not and has never been static, but we are facing a multitude of problems that have never been seen before. The continuing development of teachers and leaders is essential for realizing the changes in instructional practice that will be required to meet current and future state academic objectives. While leaders and teachers must play a part in equipping students to engage in an interconnected society, Leading Change Together argues that leaders are not preparing students consistently.
The book suggests that an examination of effective approaches to adult and professional community development must include the principal's role, school culture, and a direction for institutional change, with the ultimate goal of fostering a strong learning community. This book is a good read for anyone interested in change, adult learning, and improving student outcomes.