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Improve Learning by Building Community

Improve Learning by Building Community
A Principal's Guide to Action

Edited by:

June 2010 | 152 pages | Corwin
Written for head teachers, both new and experienced, Improve Learning by Building Community provides a blueprint for building effective learning communities committed to partnering with both the internal school community—faculty and staff—and the external school community—families, community organizations and service agencies, and school council educators.

Based on research and best practices, the book helps school administrators articulate and implement a vision that utilizes community-wide support and participation to support student learning and achievement. Reflecting the author's work with head teachers, this resource provides case studies in each chapter with Practical Tips, Points for Practice, and Points to Ponder and provides specific guidance in areas such as:

- Shaping a school culture that supports teamwork

- Examining and understanding the external environment

- Working with parents and community organizations

- Honoring all school staff members, at all levels

- Drawing on community support services

- Collaborating with council staff

About the Authors
1. It All Begins With You
General Information About Educational Platforms

A Normative Use of a Platform

Returning to Motley Elementary School

Points for Practice


2. Creating a Shared Vision
Developing a Vision

Articulating the Vision

Implementing the Vision

Monitoring the Vision

Creating a Vision: Returning to Carpenter Middle School

Chapter Summary

Points for Practice


3. Foundations for Community Building

Operationalizing Community Beyond Structure

Returning to the Administrative Team at Ridgmoor Middle School

Chapter Summary

Points for Practice


4. Focusing on Culture Is More Than Good Manners
On Climate and Culture

Development of Culture and Climate Research

Putting the Theory Into Practice

Returning to Manchester

Chapter Summary

Points for Practice


5. Studying Your External Environment
Analytic Framework

Historical Thumbnail for the Riverport Community and Hilley High School

Structural Dimension of Riverport

Human Resource Dimension of Riverport

Political Dimension of Riverport

Symbolic Dimension of Riverport

Back to Pete

Chapter Summary

Points for Practice


6. Working With Community Groups and Parents
Parent Concerns

Community Concerns

Returning to Cheshire School

Chapter Summary

Points for Practice


Additional Suggested Resources

7. Seeing Your Invisible Heroes
Security Staff

Office Workers

Custodial Staff

Food Service Workers

Chapter Summary

Points for Practice


8. Services in the Community
Students in Physical Danger

Drug or Substance Abuse

Student Mental or Physical Health

Family Turmoil

Returning to La Casa Blanca Schools and Bustamente Elementary

Chapter Summary

Points for Practice

9. Support From Central Administration
What Makes It Hard to Change Schools?

Key People to Keep Informed

Chapter Summary

Points for Practice



"At last, we have a book that provides practical, day-to-day advice for what school administrators need to attend to when establishing a learning community. Daresh helps school leaders understand the importance of their personal values about shared leadership as well as the individuals within the school, district, and community who are essential to building a shared learning community. The wealth of examples and school-based scenarios illustrate how these ideas translate into practice. A wonderful resource for a book study for teachers and principals."

Bruce Barnett, Professor
University of Texas at San Antonio

"Daresh continues his legacy of bridging scholarship and practice, within a context of strengthening school cultures by supporting positive interactions between all the people who interact within and around them. As usual, his tone is friendly and approachable, and his points to ponder are both practical and compelling. Aspiring, new, and experienced principals will benefit from the structured opportunity afforded by this book to reflect on their own values and how these values shape their leadership."

Mary Beth Cunat, Assistant Principal
Burley School, Chicago, IL

"An invaluable guide for fostering learning communities, Daresh’s work provides a ten-thousand foot view of schools. Of particular interest to educational leaders are strategies to engage parents, business leaders and the often 'forgotten stakeholders'—staff members such as secretaries and custodians. Each chapter immediately engages the reader through humor, reflection, and analysis. Vivid, authentic scenarios capture the realities and complexities of today’s schools. We are invited into the minds of school leaders as they work through the change process and are reminded of the importance of continually reassessing our values. This book is not only a must-read, but a must-do for every principal whose goal is to enhance learning communities."

Debra Livingston, Superintendent of Schools
Fall Mountain Regional School District, Charlestown, NH

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781412969611