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Hands-on, Practical Guidance for Educators

From math, literacy, equity, multilingual learners, and SEL, to assessment, school counseling, and education leadership, our books are research-based and authored by experts on topics most relevant to what educators are facing today.


Building Strong School Cultures

A Guide to Leading Change

Administrators will learn to diagnose and shape school culture, rethink organizational structures and decision-making processes, and promote organizational learning to improve teaching and learning.

Full description

Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12, Elementary, Secondary
  • ISBN: 9781412951821
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Series: Leadership for Learning Series
  • Year: 2008
  • Page Count: 200
  • Publication date: September 17, 2008

Price: $39.95

Price: $39.95
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"Standing on the back of their groundbreaking research on school culture, Kruse and Seashore Louis provide an insightful and very practical guide that should be a must-read for anyone preparing to become a school leader."
—Kenneth Leithwood, Professor
OISE/University of Toronto

"A manageable, well-rehearsed plan for discussion, research, and lots of reflective thought for any school leader willing to develop their own leadership and the culture in which they desire to lead."
—Teresa P. Cunningham, Principal
Laurel Elementary School, TN

Develop an integrated school culture that engages educators with their colleagues and communities!

As a principal, you realize that effecting positive, long-lasting change requires support both within your school and in the wider community. This practical handbook shows school leaders how to build a climate of collaboration with staff, teachers, and parents as well as how to develop connections with foundations, business groups, social service providers, and government agencies.

Sharon D. Kruse and Karen Seashore Louis call on principals to create a viable, sustainable school culture using organizational learning and trust to involve the professional community and to affect teaching and learning. This addition to the Leadership for Learning series presents a leadership approach that integrates teachers, parents, and community members into a coherent team. The authors examine schools that have achieved lasting cultural change and present practical strategies for:

  • Diagnosing and shaping a school culture
  • Revising leadership functions to broaden decision-making processes
  • Rethinking organizational structures
  • Supporting continuous improvement while ensuring stability

Building Strong School Cultures draws from business and psychology research on motivating and organizing people to provide school leaders with the skills they need to promote effective change.



Sharon D. Kruse photo

Sharon D. Kruse

Dr. Sharon D. Kruse is Academic Director and Professor at Washington State University- Vancouver. Her scholarship broadly addresses two concerns, (1) to help teachers and school leaders better understand the key role leadership plays in schools and (2) to explore how education is currently structured and influenced by social and organizational complexity. Kruse’s work focuses on understanding how schools can be better places for the children who attend them and the teachers who work in them. By focusing on the ways issues are framed, decisions are made and problems are identified she seeks to understand how schools can better educate and meet the needs of students. Kruse has served as a project level evaluator for six Teaching American Historygrants, and PI for evaluation of the Ohio Department of Education Supplemental Educational Services program. Kruse’s expertise in qualitative methods, developing interview and focus group protocols, data collection and analysis tools and interpretation contributes to the growing body of knowledge concerning organizational practices and outcome measures. Her recent publications include Building Strong School Cultures (with Karen Seashore Louis, 2009), Decision making for educational leaders: Under-examined dimensions and issues (with Bob L. Johnson Jr. 2009). She co-edits the Journal of Research on Leadership Education with Gordon Gates.

WSU link: https://education.wsu.edu/sharon-kruse/

Karen Seashore Louis photo

Karen Seashore Louis

Karen Seashore Louis is the Rodney Wallace Professor of Educational Policy and Administration at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities. Her area of expertise includes improvement in K–12 leadership and policy over the last 30 years, particularly in urban secondary schools. Louis also conducts research on organizational changes within higher education, with particular attention to faculty roles, and on international comparative policy in educational reform. A past president of Division A of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), she is a widely published author in the field. Recent books include Organizing for School Change, Leadership for Change and School Improvement: International Perspectives, Handbook of Educational Administration, Second Edition, and Organizational Learning in Schools. Louis earned a bachelor's degree in History from Swarthmore College and a doctorate in sociology from Columbia University.
Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Series Foreword by E. Joseph Schneider and Willis D. Hawley


About the Authors

1. Changing School Culture: An Introduction and Overview

School Cultures: Stable and Fluid or Stable and Fragile

Introducing PCOLT: Professional Community, Organizational Learning, and Trust

Intensified Leadership: An Introduction

Intensification and Beyond "Quick Fixes"

Summary and Overview of the Book

Recommended Readings and Culture Activities

2. Principals as Cultural Change Agents

Cultures and Subcultures in Schools

Management and Leadership

Paths to Cultural Management and Leadership


Additional Readings and Activities for Getting Started

3. Diagnosing Your School Culture: Understanding Where You Are

The Basics of Cultural Diagnosis

Diagnosing Your School Culture

Diagnosis and Intensified Leadership for Cultural Change

Culture Resources and Activities

4. Linking Leadership and School Culture

Leadership and Decision Making

Intensifying Leadership at Your School

Intensifying Leadership by Building PCOLT

Vigilance and Strong School Cultures


Reflections and Activities for Developing School Culture

5. Networks, Networking, and Cultural Change

Webs and Nets

Thinking About Networks


Next Steps

Reflections and Goal-Setting Activities

6. Intensifying Leadership Through Partnerships With Districts

Thinking About District-School Relationships

Rethinking Organizational Structures and Cultures

Influencing District-School Relationships

Moving Forward


Reflections and Activities

7. Schools and Communities: Working With the Enduring Dilemmas of Time and Accountability

Student Learning and Development: A Foundation

Schools as Agencies for Democracy

Social Capital and Civic Capacity

Schools as Moral Agencies


Web Resources, Activities, and Reflections

8. Bringing It All Together: Concluding Themes and Thoughts

The Art of Balance

Implications for Action and Growth

A PCOLT Planning Guide





Price: $39.95
Volume Discounts applied in Shopping Cart

For Instructors

Request Review Copy

When you select 'request review copy', you will be redirected to Sage Publishing (our parent site) to process your request.

Related Resources

  • Access to companion resources is available with the purchase of this book.