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Leading for Powerful Learning

A Guide for Instructional Leaders

by Angela Breidenstein, Kevin Fahey, Carl Glickman and Frances Hensley, Teachers College Press, New York, N.Y., 2012. 152 pp. with index, $24.95 softcover


This short, easy-to- read book overflows with good ideas and helpful tools. Leading for Powerful Learning: A Guide for Instructional Leaders delivers on what it promises, and in only 123 pages of text. Authors Angela Breidenstein, Kevin Fahey, Carl Glickman and Frances Hensley share a three-step process for transforming schools and provide lots of examples and protocols for leading learning.

Unique to this book is the idea that leaders, individual staff members and entire schools each have preferred learning styles. Successful leaders, they say, figure out where their school is and what to do next. The authors suggest three basic learning styles:

  • Instrumental approaches that focus on content to improve individual practice;
  • Socializing approaches which use process to develop consistent schoolwide improvements; and
  • Self-authoring approaches that transform entire school cultures by addressing uncomfortable questions.

Each of these approaches is articulated clearly and well-illustrated along with examples of how different tools, protocols and strategies might be used at each stage. They outline the benefits and challenges of each approach and pay particular attention to why and when each approach might be used. They also note that as a school moves through these approaches, the role of the leader changes from knowledge expert to process facilitator to co-learner. Examples point the way in addressing the leadership challenges of transitioning from one stage to the next.

The appendix offers six specific protocol tools, which also are well illustrated in the text. Those examples, together with copy-ready protocols, truly make this book A Guide for Instructional Leaders, true to the sub-title.

Principals will find this book highly readable, a great guide and a book that could easily be read with their building leadership team or the entire staff. District leaders would find this book useful for their own learning, for principal professional development or in working with principals on school improvement planning.

Reviewed by Larry L. Nyland, superintendent, Marysville Schools, Marysville, Wash.


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