You too can lead the changes you want to see in your school, start today! Read – Leading Change in Your School
My interest in this book was first sparked by the title. After all, with words like “leading change” and “conquer,” any action-minded educator is likely to get drawn in. It was the author who caught my attention next. Being familiar with Douglas Reeves’s work on change leadership, including his monthly column in Educational Leadership, my interest was clinched.
In Leading Change in Your School: How to Conquer Myths, Build Commitment, and Get Results, Reeves does not promise magic formulas. Instead he aims to instill hope and confidence in teachers and administrators who would like to transform their thinking into actions as change leaders. This is not just another “how to” book that proposes a framework of sequential steps, leaving readers with that “I’ve heard this before” feeling. The author strives to have the reader easily connect to the educators described in the book.
The Change Leaders described in this book are veterans and novices, women and men; they represent a broad spectrum of cultures and backgrounds. They are introvert and extroverts, teachers and administrators, exceptional and ordinary. You will find, I hope, people like you, sharing similar challenges but perhaps with different results. Their stories are completely authentic.
The reader can easily connect to the reality that change is not an easy task to accomplish. Reeves states that when it comes to leading change there are often overwhelming challenges that lead inevitably to cynicism. As a result of traveling to many schools around the world, Reeves explains that he has found a number of effective change leaders who share common characteristics. For example these effective change leaders:
• engage colleagues rather than manipulate them
• focus on ideas-not personalities
• balance their sense of urgency
Reeves goes on to say:
…these are people who not only implement change successfully, but also appear to thrive on it. Their colleagues are no more insightful, desperate, or well-informed than the average. Rather, these change leaders share a common commitment to the notion that ideas are more important than personalities.
As I read this, I readily grasped the author’s attempt to create an “I can do this in my school” mindset. This book is a great read for those who are new to the idea of becoming a change leader or for those who wish to extend their abilities. It is helpful for teachers or administrators who have already succeeded with a few ideas and feel the need to continue making positive changes.
Throughout the book, I noticed how skillfully the author brought idealism and realism together. For example, Reeves explains:
Sustainable change requires reorientation of priorities and values so that the comfort and convenience of the individual is no longer the measure by which the legitimacy of change is considered. Rather, we respond to a vision of change that is so compelling and whose benefits for others are so overwhelming that we see students and colleagues not as cogs in the machine but as stars in a galaxy that outshines our fears and dwarfs our apprehensions.
At the same time-and this is the key to change leadership-we know that each star in the firmament holds an essential place, and without it, a constellation would be diminished. Thus the paradox of change leadership is the elevation of a vision far greater than the individual and, at the same time, the elevation of the individual to a place that is unique, powerful, and essential.
Reeves blends his poetic ideals with the reality that everyday people can make the choice to be successful change agents. His book describes leaders who are everyday people-in schools across the globe-who have succeeded.
The book is organized into four parts that include:
1. Creating Conditions for Change
2. Planning Change
3. Implementing Change
4. Sustaining change
Each chapter builds upon the next to allow the reader to absorb realistic views that can be transformed into the actions of successful change leaders. In addition, an appendix provides supporting documents to guide the reader to begin changing rhetoric into reality. Each part of the book is comprised of 3 to 5 chapters that fully outline specific experiences and steps for taking action.
Reeves’s writing style, along with the information provided in the book, make for an interactive reading experience. For instance, the author encourages the reader to share his own successful change leadership stories by visiting ChangeLeaders.info, which is a noncommercial website devoted to sharing successful ideas and research.
I recommend this book for all who desire to break the barrier of the cynicism of change. The reader can be left with the thought that by applying simple yet powerful ideas, determined educators can enjoy the experiences that result from taking the initiative to be successful change leaders.