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Stop Fake Work in Education

Stop Fake Work in Education
Creating Real Work Cultures That Drive Student Success

July 2020 | 304 pages | Corwin

My career has been shaped positively by listening to trusted educators share lessons they’ve learned. Gaylan Nielson and Betty Burks uniquely fit the bill of trusted as they share strategies that both help you avoid the many distractions educators face and focus your attention on what is really matters for learning to happen.

Raymond J. McNulty
President, Successful Practices Network, National Dropout Prevention Center
New York

Stop Fake Work in Education provides school leaders with the mind-set and associated tool-set to keep the main thing the main thing. In the end it is all about student success and removing barriers and distractions from the schoolhouse so that school leaders and teachers can be laser-focused on student outcomes allows this to happen. School leaders that are looking for a “how-to-guide” to make this a reality should have this book on their bookshelf.

Jeff Goldhorn, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Education Service Center, Region 20
San Antonio, TX

Work smarter, not harder, is the theme of this important book for leaders at all levels of education. Nielson and Burks keep the focus on the main thing, student success, while writing passionately about the features of Real Work and compassionately about the traps of Fake Work. The stories of real school leaders punctuate and bring to life the authors’ transformational design model. The 7 Paths to Real Work provide a clear, accessible, step-by-step approach to doing this work. The hands-on tools and templates will help you get started. Fake Work is the rare book that situates strategic thinking and planning in the context of cultural considerations to provide a compelling and credible approach to leading change. Best of all, it is a delightful read that has the ring of authenticity and practicality.

Jackie Acree Walsh, Ph.D.
Author and Consultant
Montgomery, AL

One question: Where was this book and information when I began my work in school administration? What a great resource! Whether you are a beginning teacher leader or a seasoned administrator, this book can make your life easier by recognizing and acknowledging the impact that high performing cultures have on student achievement and how to achieve that culture in your work. This book points to running on a treadmill and getting nowhere, ie Fake Work, but most importantly it points to the important strategies to do the real, meaningful, impactful work. This book should serve a focus of study for all teams. 

Lora G. Mora, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Center for Educational Leadership, Department of Education, Trinity University, Deputy Superintendent, Retired, Northside ISD
San Antonio, TX

If they didn’t coin the terms “fake work” and “real work” in education, Nielsen and Burks certainly clarified them and their impact on the lives of students and those who serve them. Fake Work in Education provides educators with a clear purpose and path for moving from organizational addiction on the fake to systemwide focus on the real. 

The authors weave research with practice through artful use of real experiences from real educators who’ve been stymied by the fake work syndrome in their own schools and districts. But Nielsen and Burks don’t stop there...throughout the book, they provide practical strategies, tools and measures for educators to begin their own efforts to focus on the real work.

Denise Collier, Ed.D.
Educator, Professor, and Educational Consultant, Chief Academic Officer, Retired, Dallas ISD
Dallas, TX

This book had me hooked as soon as I read the definition of Fake Work! As educators, we are passionate by nature. We are also notorious for putting a great amount of effort into all we do. Yet, how often do we stop and ask ourselves whether our efforts will be matched in value of the output of what we are working on? We don’t! We work and work and work, and look up only to realize that we haven’t moved nearly as far as we set out to. This book encourages and challenges us to evaluate everything we are doing on a daily basis to ensure strategic alignment with our goals. The success of our students depends on us understanding this concept of Fake Work and putting our best effort and energy into the Right Work.


Deanna D. Jackson
Principal, Watts Elementary, Schertz-Cibolo Universal City ISD
Schertz, TX

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