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The Answer Is in the Room
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Bestseller!

The Answer Is in the Room
How Effective Schools Scale Up Student Success

A Joint Publication With The HOPE Foundation



© 2011 | 144 pages | Corwin

"The answer is not always in the room. Sometimes it's in the room next door. But help is often much closer than you think. Drawing on inspirational yet practical examples of health reform in Vietnam, courageous change in South Africa, and authentic improvements that get results in a range of American schools, Alan Blankstein demonstrates that throwing random reforms into the room through the door, or shouting at people in the room from up on the roof, are not ways that make positive change happen. Blankstein knows his people, knows his schools and knows what brings about positive, professionally driven change. This brilliant little book not only shows what works, it dignifies the overly criticized professionals who make it all happen."
—Andy Hargreaves, Author and Thomas More Brennan Chair in Education
Boston College, MA

"When the well-being of children is at stake, people of all stripes are called upon to put aside personal agendas, find the humility and courage to do what is right, and let go of what has not worked. This book provides compelling reasons for doing this in education, as well as a powerful new methodology for success and a pathway to a brighter future."
—Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
1GOAL Education for All, Cape Town, South Africa

"With tools and techniques provided in Alan Blankstein's new book, educators have the potential to uncover the answers to complex issues in education."
—Deborah Childs-Bowen, Assistant Professor
Alliance for Leadership in Education, Samford University, Birmingham, AL

Learn the secrets of successful schools

Citing wisdom from top educational experts and building on what is already working, award-winning author Alan M. Blankstein offers tools for finding excellence in schools, scaling these practices across learning communities, and transforming low-performing schools into high-performing schools. His five-step process includes:

  • Identifying and assessing excellence
  • Creating an action plan
  • Assigning resources such as time, materials, etc.
  • Transferring excellence in the form of knowledge and skills throughout the school and district
  • Sustaining the excellence

Also included are effective strategies for sustaining student gains, closing gaps within and between schools, building leader capacity, and increasing community commitment.

Listen to Alan's podcast interview for the Future of Education series.

 
Preface
 
Acknowledgments
 
About the Author
 
Dedication
 
Figures and Tools to Help Answer the Questions in the Room
 
1. Why We Can't Wait to Scale Student Success!
The Power of Positive Deviance Saves Millions of Children in Vietnam  
Applying Positive Deviance to Education  
Good News for Scaling Student Success  
About This Book and Chapter  
Some Common Core Principles of Networking and PD  
Challenges to Scaling Success in US Education  
The Moral and Economic Imperative for Change is Now  
What Works, What Doesn’t, What’s Next?  
The Big Question  
References  
 
2. A Process to CREATE Sustained Student Success
A Movement is Born in U.S. Education – and Exported to Other Nations  
The Catalyst to Change  
The CREATE Process  
The Advantages of the CREATE Process  
The Big Question  
References  
 
3. The Courage to Commit to the Work
Defining Courage  
Commitment: A Pillar of Courage  
Building a Collective Commitment to Scale Up Student Success  
7 Tools for Constructing a Large-Scale Community Commitment  
Cultivating the Community: Qualities of the Courageous Leader  
The Big Question  
References  
 
4. Resources are in the Room
The Most Valuable Resource: Focused Commitment Over Time  
The Second Major Resource: Patience and Urgency  
Third Major Resource: Steering Committee  
How to Get TIME to Collaborate  
Getting Down to the Details  
The Big Question  
References  
 
5. Taking Stock of Excellence in the Room
Is there Excellence or Positive Deviance to be Found?  
Defining Excellence is Done Twice by the Lead Teams  
Developing a Community to Question the Answer: Language, Purpose and Norms  
Improving Instructional Practice: Change the Methods and You Will Change the Outcomes  
Change the Methods and You Will Change the Outcomes  
The Big Question  
References  
 
6. An Action Plan for Engaging the Entire Learning Community
Developing a Common Language for the Action Plan  
Key Challenges to Address in the Action Plan  
Reentry Plans to Engage the Larger School Community, Build Trust and Transparency  
Developing SMART Goals That the School Community Wants to Achieve  
Successful Implementation of SMART Goals  
Identifying and Assessing Excellence  
Next Steps  
The Big Question  
References  
 
7. Transference of Knowledge and Skills Throughout the Learning Community
Transferring Knowledge and Skills within the School  
Transferring Knowledge and Skills Through-out the District  
What Are Tuning Protocols?  
The Big Question  
References  
8. Embedding the New Learning in the Culture for Sustainability  
Three Pillars of Embedding the Process in the School Culture  
The Big Question  
References  
 
Tools to Help Answer the Questions in the Room
 
Tool A: Writing an Instructional SMART Goal Worksheet
 
Tool B: Strategies for Making Time
 
Tool C: Agreement of PURPOSE Worksheet
 
Tool D: Creating Group Norms: Facilitator Guide Example
 
Tool E: An Example Participant Handout for Creating Group Norms
 
Tool F: Steps of "Instructional Learning Walks"
 
Tool G: Indicators of Quality Instructional Learning Walks Observation Sheet
 
Index

"A common-sense approach to addressing the obstacles and barriers that often stymie school success. By drawing on examples from schools that have a track record of beating the odds, Blankstein and his collaborators have created a resource that will be invaluable for educators who are searching for answers to the challenges they face. Insightful, enlightening and accessible."

Pedro Noguera, Professor of Education
New York University, New York, NY

“Blankstein’s new book brilliantly summarizes a wealth of information about what works in closing the achievement gap. A must-read for practitioners.”

Tony Wagner, Innovation Education Fellow and Author
Technology & Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

"Another passionate and stirring book from Alan Blankstein! Weaving together evidence, inspiring stories and resources, he leads the reader to an exciting place where it’s just the norm for everyone to learn with and from others within and across their schools. And it all starts with questions. So what are you waiting for?"

Louise Stoll, Professor
London Centre for Leadership in Learning, UK

"In The Answer is in the Room, Alan Blankstein applies the lessons he has learned from working with schools around his 'Failure is Not an Option' program. As usual, Alan offers practical and timely lessons for schools and districts. But in this new book, he goes further to talk about what it really takes to get the answers and he posits that we already know because the answer is in the room, and it must come from all of us. This is a timely and helpful book.”

Paul Houston, Author
Center for Empowered Leadership, Allentown, NJ

"This book has it right—the secret is that there is no secret. With Alan, we need to shout it out. We do know how to scale up student success; we do have excellent instruction to surge into classrooms; and we do have communities of practice that bring stakeholders together who reject failure. This new system is aborning, and we need to celebrate its beginnings and tend to its growth. Readers: unite with purpose!"

 ,

Robert C. Hughes, President and CEO
National Institute for School Leadership, Washington, DC
Key features
  • Offers a process to identify and successfully scale excellent practices that are already underway in the learning community, including building collective purpose and commitment, identifying and assessing excellence, creating an action plan, transferring knowledge and skills throughout the school and district, and sustaining the excellence.
  • Includes tools to help educators implement this scaling process, including worksheets, checklists, strategies and samples.
  • Filled with numerous cases and stories of schools and districts that have successfully scaled student success across learning communities to serve as compelling examples of this process in action.

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ISBN: 9781412998765

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