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The Answer Is in the Room

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

A Joint Publication With The HOPE Foundation

August 2011 | 144 pages | Corwin
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.

About the Author
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


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


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


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


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


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


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


8. Embedding the New Learning in the Culture for Sustainability

Three Pillars of Embedding the Process in the School Culture

The Big Question


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

"Blankstein makes it clear that communities can create schools in which all students thrive by tapping the capacities that already exist within them. The implications of that idea are truly profound!"

Dennis Sparks, Emeritus Executive Director
Learning Forward, Washington, DC

“Public education is filled with numerous success stories that, for some reason, aren’t being taken to scale. Alan Blankstein addresses this conundrum with practical advice that will benefit educators and students. He shows how to create a culture for success that will move the ball forward at every school and in every classroom.”

Joel Klein, Former Chancellor
New York City Department of Education, NY

“In The Answer is in the Room, Alan Blankstein captures evidence of the school-level success which too many have until now thought simply not possible: when we as adults get it right, students can achieve at the highest of levels regardless of background.”

Jon Schnur, Chairman of the Board
New Leaders for New Schools, New York City, NY

"In this practical new book, Alan Blankstein demonstrates that greater student achievement is within the reach of every school. It doesn't require vast sums of new money or an array of new programs. It does take a small group of educators committed to inquiry, planning, and action.They will find Blankstein's book to be a useful and inspirational guide."

Hayes Mizell, Distinguished Senior Fellow
Learning Forward, Washington, DC

“With the tools and techniques provided in Alan Blankstein’s new book, educators have the potential to uncover the answers to complex issues in education that are readily at hand."

Deborah Childs-Bowen, Assistant Professor
Alliance for Leadership in Education, Samford University, Birmingham, AL

"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

“Alan Blankstein’s latest book is another must-read for educators who are passionate about bringing about change in education. The stories in the book illustrate resonant leaders who enacted the TEAM approach to school transformation. With a TEAM attitude, each leader was able to build TRUST, encourage EMPOWERMENT, establish ACCOUNTABILITY and provide MOTIVATION to bring about he needed change.”

Marion Wilson, Principal
Jackie Robinson Public School 375, Brooklyn, NY

“The goal of every leader should be to inspire excellence without exception. Alan Blankstein’s new book illustrates this through diverse case studies and vignettes. All school leaders should have this book in their library.”

William Mingo, Assistant Principal
Jackie Robinson Public School 375, Brooklyn, NY

“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 pathway to a brighter future.”

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
1GOAL Education for All, Cape Town, South Africa

"Alan Blankenship once again addresses head-on the compelling dilemmas of our time. Yes, The Answer is in the Room and it demands that leaders bundle best practice and proceed with courage."

Linda Lambert, Author

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