Getting Serious About the System
A Fieldbook for District and School Leaders
- D'Ette F. Cowan - Southwest Educational Development Laboratory
- Stacey L. Joyner - Southwest Educational Development Laboratory
- Shirley B. Beckwith - Southwest Educational Development Laboratory
Leadership | School Change, Reform, & Restructuring
A focused approach to raising student achievement
For many districts, the improvement process can seem like trying to nail Jello to the wall. This fieldbook shows how to avoid a haphazard approach by focusing on all aspects of the system and specific issues that have most impact upon student achievement. This multidimensional process also entails increasing the competencies of everyone involved and implementing solutions districtwide. The authors outline a proven framework and offer step-by-step guidance for addressing the essential components and competencies of the local educational system. Key strategies include:
- Concentrating on aligning curriculum, instruction, and assessment to state and Common Core State Standards
- Working on the underlying issues and people that impact the system
- Garnering support from all staff members to maximize time, resources, and energy
Included are vignettes for each phase that illustrate how the work might play out in typical districts and schools. Hands-on tools include an extensive Facilitator Guide with PowerPoint slides, handouts, and a companion website with online resources. A separate volume provides a brief overview of the process for staff and teachers that provides a brief rationale based on research, explains what it means to work systemically, and outlines the phases.
There is no "quick fix" for boosting school performance, but Getting Serious About the System will help district and school leaders set priorities, break the gridlock, and reap sustainable results.
"This book is a critical roadmap to district and school transformation. It takes the guess work out of determining where improvement is needed."
"The working systemically model provides a research-based approach to school improvement. The clearly defined step-by-step approach will assist any school or district in its improvement efforts. My professional practice has been significantly changed as a result of my direct experience implementing SEDL’s working systemically approach."
"This book not only describes processes and strategies but provides the tools needed for those leading the process. This is a process that a campus or district leader could use that would examine and use the resources they already have and is not another program they need to buy."
"The vignettes pulled everything together and increased my understanding of the phases. The tips for building relationship between team members and dealing with sensitive issues are also very helpful."
"This is the most comprehensive approach to improving a school system that I have seen in one text. I would absolutely recommend this book to my colleagues."
"This book challenges leaders to focus on what is most important and identifies the improvement efforts required to achieve dramatic results in the classrooms. It is brimming with ideas on how to transform education systemically and provides teachers, administrators, and leaders with a comprehensive resource to improve student achievement."
“The authors provide decades of high-quality professional development and hands-on work with schools and school districts. I appreciate and applaud their efforts to translate research on data use, professional development, leadership, and collaboration into tools and processes useful to educators.”
The book was less about systems theory than I hoped.