Book Reviews

Getting Started

by Robert Eaker, Richard DuFour and Rebecca Burnette DuFour

Reviewed by William G. Keane
Associate Professor of Educational Leadership, Oakland University, Rochester, Mich.

Rick DuFour, the former superintendent in Lincolnshire, Ill., and Robert Eaker, provost of Middle Tennessee State University, wrote a book in 1998, Professional Learning Communities at Work, that coherently addressed themes of organizational improvement. Best of all, it pointed to DuFour’s school district as an example of what could be achieved by integrating core ideas on substantial educational improvement.

Now Eaker, DuFour and Rebecca Burnette DuFour, a former school principal, have written a how-to book largely devoted to building a professional learning community in a school or district. Though far more substantial than an instructional manual, the book repeats the core questions of the earlier work: Why do we exist (mission)? What kind of school do we want to become (vision)? How must we behave to create the kind of school we hope to become (values)? What steps are we going to take and when will we take them (goals)?

Her contribution is a specific account of how, as a new principal, she turned an elementary school into a learning community. Her section is followed by a set of “artifacts” that would be helpful to someone beginning the process.

The authors admit that building a professional learning community is a process that moves along a continuum. It is not a program, and it is difficult work. However, the evidence suggests, they argue, that a learning community will “develop the individual and collective capacity of staff to make a difference in the lives of kids.”

(Getting Started: Reculturing Schools to Become Professional Learning Communities by Robert Eaker, Richard DuFour and Rebecca Burnette DuFour, National Education Service, Bloomington, Ind., 2002, 184 pp. plus index, $19.95 softcover)