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Asking the Right Questions
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Asking the Right Questions
Tools for Collaboration and School Change

Third Edition

Foreword by Shirley M. Hord



July 2008 | 232 pages | Corwin

"This book has something for everyone—the teacher leader heading school improvement committees, the curriculum director working with teacher task forces, the superintendent working with community groups to establish vision and set priorities. A very hands-on book with practical tools for leaders in any setting!"
—Mary Devin, Associate Professor
Kansas State University

"Gives a multitude of techniques for collaborative planning and preparing for change. This is an exceptional resource for school leaders to read and reflect on."
—Regina S. Birdsell, Assistant Executive Director
Connecticut Association of Schools

Use these practical tips and real-world examples to facilitate meaningful school change!

This updated edition of the bestseller on school reform focuses on collaboration at three crucial levels: district, school, and classroom. Recognizing the power of multilevel support, reform expert Edie L. Holcomb provides a structure that helps teams of educators assess a situation, gather information, plan and implement change initiatives, evaluate progress, and sustain change.

In easy-to-understand language, Asking the Right Questions, Third Edition, effectively highlights the issues that need to be addressed when implementing school improvement initiatives. Building on her highly successful framework, the author presents a new discussion on shaping practice, creating effective decision-making structures, and reviewing improvement plans. The new edition also includes

  • Innovative strategies such as symbolic displays, configuration maps, priority grids, and open space technology
  • Additional examples of change scenarios from the field
  • Review questions and chapter summaries that highlight key points
  • A CD-ROM with figures, customizable forms, and a chapter-by-chapter discussion guide to facilitate individual and group study

From simple policy changes to broad reform, this invaluable guide helps teachers, principals, and administrators work together to visualize and enact changes that improve student achievement.


 
List of Figures
 
List of CD-ROM Contents
 
Foreword to the Third Edition by Shirley M. Hord
 
Preface to the Third Edition
 
Acknowledgments
 
About the Author
 
1. Asking the Right Questions
Refinement of the Five Critical Questions  
The Five Questions as a Road Map  
The Wrong Questions  
Professional Learning Communities  
The Five Questions and Three Models of Change  
Tools for Inquiry and Collaboration  
Using This Book  
Answer Key  
 
2. Answering the "Where Are We Now?" Question
Student Performance  
Shareholder Perceptions  
Organizational Culture and Context  
Answer Key  
 
3. Answering the "Where Do We Want to Go?" Question
Affirming the Mission  
Identifying and Prioritizing Concerns  
Articulating Goals  
Visualizing the Culture of Collaboration  
Answer Key  
 
4. Answering the "How Will We Get There?" Question
Dig Into the Data  
Study Relevant Research  
Explore Best Practices  
Consider Local Factors  
Analyze Current Practice  
Partner With Your District  
Select Strategies  
Double-Check: Goal or Strategy?  
Plan the Journey  
Is Our Plan Powerful?  
Answer Key  
 
5. Answering the "How Will We Know We Are (Getting) There?" Question
Are We Working Our Plan? Evidence of Implementation  
Is Our Plan Working? Evidence of Impact  
The Plan and the Proof  
Answer Key  
 
6. Answering the "How Will We Sustain the Focus and Momentum?" Question
Understand and Respond to Reactions  
Continue Training and Coaching  
Cope With Conflict  
Strengthen the Culture of Inquiry  
Support Leaders and Followers  
Shift From Technical to Adaptive  
Reaffirm Organizational Values and Commitments  
Maintain Organizational Health  
Answer Key  
 
7. Powerful Questions That Shape Practice
Entry Questions  
Data-Boosting Questions  
Walking-Around Questions  
Instructional Questions  
Student-Work Analysis Questions  
Letting-Go Questions  
Hiring Questions  
Time Management Questions  
Involvement Questions  
The Commitment Question  
Answer Key  
 
References and Further Reading
 
Index

"A great book with practical advice. It provides all the tools for facilitating change dialogues with clear explanations of what is desired for answering the essential questions."

Linda Vogel, Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies
University of Northern Colorado

“An effective synthesis of information for implementing, monitoring, and sustaining change in a collaborative way.”

Bess Scott, Principal
McPhee Elementary School, Lincoln, NE

"Gives a multitude of techniques for collaborative planning and preparing for change. This is an exceptional resource for school leaders to read and reflect on."

Regina S. Birdsell, Assistant Executive Director
Connecticut Association of Schools

"Offers a strong set of strategies for working with adults to gain consensus, reach a goal, or gain insight into the thinking of participants."

Rita Corbett, Educational Consultant
RJC Consulting

“An excellent book. This is the manual that I have been needing. It simplified the complex and demonstrated that we can really make a difference in our schools and districts.”

Janet Hurt, Associate Superintendent
Logan County Schools, KY

"This book has something for everyone—the teacher leader heading school improvement committees, the curriculum director working with teacher task forces, or the superintendent working with community groups to establish vision and set priorities. A very hands-on book with practical tools for leaders in any setting!"

Mary Devin, Associate Professor
Kansas State University

"During my four years in the Kentucky Distinguished Educator Program, this book was my constant companion. On many occasions, the materials and insights I gleaned from this book made my work easier and made me appear to others to be smarter and wiser."

Stan Laferty, Curriculum Coordinator
Clermont County ESC, OH

“The book is supported with concrete examples from real-life experience and is presented with an eye to real problems. It allows the reader to find tools that are appropriate for the local situation and to feel empowered to use the tools in flexible ways.”

Steven R. Thompson, Coordinator, School Leadership Program
Miami University, OH

This seemed to be a text that would be most helpful.
I used this text and the students really liked it.

Dr Michele Kelk
School Of Education, Webster University
November 17, 2010
Key features
  • Focuses on school change at the district, school, and classroom levels
  • New tools include symbolic displays, innovation and configuration maps, a priority grid, and open-space technology
  • Additional examples range from placing a focus on instruction to prioritizing for school construction
  • A new set of questions address how to shape practice
  • Chapters now include summaries of key points

For instructors

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