Book Review

Creating a Learning Environment

by John M. Brucato, Rowman & Littlefield Education, Lanham, Md., 2005, 129 pp., $26.95 softcover

Author John M. Brucato, a high school principal, has written a useful, easy-to-read book full of practical information while challenging mediocrity.

In Creating a Learning Environment: An Educational Leader’s Guide to Managing School Culture, Brucato writes: “Changing the culture of a school or school district is far more difficult than putting together programs and developing policies.”

He asks many tough and probing questions: Are administrators clear in their expectations of teachers and staff? Are they good role models who gain the trust of all members of the school community through their consistency in dealing with issues? Most importantly, do teachers and staff members like coming to work each day?

The book’s seven appendices offer practical bulleted lists for developing cultures that can reduce student discipline problems, deal with difficult classroom teachers and parents and offer some case studies that could support some interesting dialogue and problem solving within an administrative team in a school district.

I have already recommended Creating a Learning Environment: An Educational Leader’s Guide to Managing School Culture to three superintendents for use in principal mentoring programs. It would elicit rich conversation about everything from classroom instruction to teacher support and home-school communications.

Brucato’s book will assist the veteran administrator and the first-year principal alike in leading their schools toward excellence.

Reviewed by Donna McCaw, associate professor of educational leadership, Western Illinois University