Book Review

Building Effective Learning Communities: Strategies for Leadership, Learning and Collaboration

by Susan Sullivan and Jeffrey Glanz, Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, Calif., 2006, 180 pp. with index, $32.95 softcover

Before we can rush out and fix everyone else, Susan Sullivan and Jeffrey Glanz remind us in Building Effective Learning Communities that self-reflection is a prerequisite to understanding and helping others.

After we come to terms with our own leadership preferences, learning assumptions and personal views, then we can begin “building a learning community and a community of learners,” according to the co-authors. Drawing on their collective work at the university and public school settings, the authors have created a readable and relevant text for both personal and organizational growth and development.

Sullivan is chair of education at the College of Staten Island in New York City, and Glanz is dean of graduate programs at Wagner College in Staten Island.

Building Effective Learning Communities is refreshing on several fronts. First, the authors frame the chapters in a logical and clear organization so that a busy superintendent can pick up the book after several days and regain context and content. Second, the authors have provided solid research and theoretical grounding without becoming burdened with jargon and obscure language. Third, the authors provide real-life context to their work through examples and vignettes. Finally, the writing is replete with reflective questions.

In the closing portion of the work, the authors adroitly bring the various components of their teaching together in a series of culminating exercises and examples. As they have emphasized reflective practice in their writing, Sullivan and Glanz allow the reader to take time to reflect on “the challenges and opportunities you may face in the attempt to lead organizational and school reform.” The authors encourage modeling of practice and they model such a practice as well. How refreshing.

Reviewed by Zach Kelehear, associate professor of educational leadership and policies, University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C.