Bringing Your Learning Community to Life: A Road Map for Sustainable School Improvement

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Stephen S. Kaagan, Linda Headley
SAGE Publications, Feb 9, 2010 - Education - 134 pages
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How can you take the concept of a learning community from theory to the school building? This how-to guide walks you through the process of establishing a PLC step by step over a flexible timeline of nine to twelve months.

Leadership and organizational development specialists Stephen S. Kaagan and Linda Headley provide school and council leaders with a concrete road map and numerous tools for creating and sustaining a PLC focused on improving student learning. Readers will find everything they need to get a PLC up and running, including:

- Specific tasks that help educators "learn by doing" as they create a PLC

- Practice exercises for conducting productive meetings, building individual and group communication skills, and shaping the group's identity

- Brief case studies of problems encountered by educators to spark discussion and support educators' growth as learners and leaders

- Guidelines for appropriately pacing the chapters, tasks, and exercises with your faculty

Bringing Your Learning Community to Life is an invaluable manual for building capacity and carrying out the work of creating an effective, sustainable PLC focused on continuous improvement.

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About the author (2010)

Stephen S. Kaagan is currently professor of education at Michigan State University. His teaching interests are leadership, organizational analysis, and administrative practice. He has a doctorate from Harvard University and has been honored with several awards, including membership in the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, London, England and Honorary Doctorates from Williams College in Massachusetts and Green Mountain College in Vermont.

Before coming to Michigan State University in 1991, Kaagan served as president of Hurricane Island Outward Bound (1989-91), commissioner of education for the State of Vermont (1982-88), and provost at Pratt Institute in New York City (1977-82).

He has written extensively on leadership, organizational development, the role of the arts in schooling, and assessment and accountability. Selected publications include Developing Teacher Leaders: How Teacher Leadership Enhances School Success (with Frank Crowther et al.), Managing Successful School Reform: the Legacy of Chris Argyris (a special edition of the International Journal of Educational Management, co-edited with Frank Crowther), Leadership Games: Experiential Learning for Organizational Development, and Leadership Lessons: From a Life of Character and Purpose in Public Affairs.

Kaagan is a charter board member of ArtServe Michigan. In the late 1980s, he served as a member of a distinguished panel on "Making the System Work Better for Poor Kids," a Carnegie Foundation–sponsored project of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Kaagan's experience spans an academic career; wide-ranging service as an advisor to government agencies, corporations, and educational institutions; military experience in the USMC Reserve; extensive travel throughout the world, including mountaineering expeditions in the Himalayas, Andes, and Cascades; and rugby football refereeing for the US Rugby Football Union.

Linda Headley owns and operates Headley Pratt Consulting (1993–present), which provides research, communications, and strategic planning services, primarily in the areas of education and the environment. For more than 20 years, she has been contracted by a variety of clients—including private businesses, national trade associations, nonprofits, universities, and state and local governments—to provide speaking, facilitation, focus group research, project management, and leadership training services.

A graduate of Albion College with a degree in communications, she has used her exceptional research and writing skills to help clients translate difficult topics into concepts and terms that can be understood and embraced by broad and diverse audiences. She then uses her knowledge of these topics to improve business practices and positively affect public policy.

She first joined forces with bpcUSA partner Steve Kaagan in the mid- 1990s to develop quality indicator systems for the education community and advance land-use planning initiatives in Northern Michigan. Since that time, they have worked on various projects designed to move organizations forward through strong leadership and sound strategic plans. She has written extensively on a variety of topics ranging from groundwater contamination, the recovery of end-of-life plastics, and balancing economic and environmental concerns to school choice, the changing face of education, the implications of federal legislation such as the No Child Left Behind Act, and using assessment results to positively affect curriculum and instruction.

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