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The Human Side of School Change: Reform, Resistance and the Real-life Problems of Innovation (Jossey-Bass Education) Paperback – 24 Jan 2001


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"A unique, superb, and penetrating analysis of the human side of educational change. Evans knows the human realities of change and portrays them vividly in both individual and organizational terms. His discussion of hope and realism in the final chapter is a gem." (Michael Fullan, dean, Faculty of Education, University of Toronto)

"Evans certainly understands what gets in the way of real school change and what the simple, key elements are that can make it happen. No board member, superintendent, or school principal should make one more decision or host one more meeting without reading this book." (Judy Cunningham, principal, South Lake Middle School, Irvine, Calif.)

Evans has written a realistic yet hopeful book that sets a new standard for providing the leadership needed to implement school improvements. An engaging and much–needed update of the critical, but often overlooked, human side of change. (Thomas J. Sergiovanni, Lillian Radford Professor of Education and senior fellow, Center for Educational Leadership, Trinity University)

School leaders will find this book realistic about the difficulties of change, rich in practical advice about school improvement, and useful in showing how to transcend the limits of their own experience to practice effective leadership. (Thomas W. Payzant, superintendent, Boston Public Schools)

From the Inside Flap

In this insightful look at the human side of school reform, Robert Evans examines the difficult hurdles to implementing innovation and explains how the best–intAnded efforts can be stalled by the resistance of educators who too often feel burdened and conflicted by the change process.The Human Side of School Change provides practical advice on problem solving, communication, and staff motivation. It argues for more realistic expectations about the pace of reform and the performance of leaders. And it presents a way of approaching all school improvement—a conceptual framework for understanding change as a process, educators as people, and leadership as a craft. By concentrating on the realities of life in schools and the common personal barriers to change, Evans illuminates the key sources of resistance to school reform. Grounding his work in a thorough understanding of human behavior and organizational functioning, he provides a new model of leadership along with practical management strategies for building a framework of cooperation, not conflict, between the leaders of change and the people they depAnd upon to implement it. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book

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At a conference on school reform, the principal of an urban high school, unable to contain himself, burst out, "We've spent all morning discussing which changes are best. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 13 reviews
49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
This is a niity-gritty but research-based primer on change. 9 Jun. 1998
By wmrwatts@aol.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a very practical yet inspiring book on the management of change in schools. Evans really understands the dynamics of schools and brings the best of the relevant research to guide the reader through the minefield of change management particularly with veteran faculty members.
I am a high school principal in a 3500 student school and wish that I had read the book two years ago (when it came out) because I can now more clearly see what we could have done to introduce and nurture our comprehensive school improvement plan in a less conflictual fashion. Evans does not shy away from the hard choices and tough decisions that must be made when a school commits itself to introducing innovations. Conflict and confusion are normal and to be expected. However, he provides some very good advice on how leaders should respond to encourage more and more teachers to join the improvement program.
This is a highly readable book which I recommend to all school leaders who are interested in authentic school improvement that actually "sticks" and improves student achievement.
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
An excellent review of change and leadership 26 May 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A staggeringly good book.Easily the best analysis of the change process in education that I've read-and I've 'force-read' a few. Evans' adopts a holistic approach concentrating on why real innovation is so difficult to achieve successfully. However,there is much sage advice and many cogent observations that are enormously thought-provoking. Although ostensibly about change it is also a marvellous examination of leadership,how educational institutions function and how public policy should be implemented.This is an excellent book in every respect.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
group behavioral changes in public school setting 20 July 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Evans Book is an excellent guide to change making in established organizations; where the carrot and the whip cannot be applied. The main contribution, after an extended anthropological analysis of group dynamics in defined institutional settings, is the postulation about authentic leadership as a catalyst for making changes. This requires the nurturing of positives among teachers. Evans gives examples of situations of conflict and ways to resolve them.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
The Real Side of School Change 2 April 2003
By Andrew A. Hoover - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
According to Evans, the goal of this immensely readable and practical book is to help school leaders "implement change in ways that truly `take'." He has divided this project into three parts. In the first, he describes the nature of change; in the second, the dimensions of change; and in the third, the dynamics of leading innovation. Evans' book is perhaps different from others in that he looks at change from where most schools are, not from where he believes they should be. In so doing, he describes what it means for schools to grow and improve given the very human constraints that define an educators' world.
In describing the nature of change, Evans sees a need to move away from common organizational assumptions rooted in Taylor's scientific management practices to assumptions that are more aligned with the nature of today's organizational reality. Given that the environments in which organizations operate today are no longer stable, but turbulent, change strategists must alter the way they seek to improve their organizations. Taylor's legacy assumes efficient organizations are stable, rational, hierarchical, and product-oriented. Evans argues that this "rational-structural" paradigm is less useful than the "strategic-systemic" paradigm, which assumes that efficient organizations are fluid, adaptable, open, and process-oriented. Given that cultures (school cultures as well) are fundamentally conservative, changing schools means changing school cultures. The problem is change challenges peoples' competence, creates confusion and causes conflict. Effective change strategies must harness people's competencies, seek coherence, and work productively with conflict.
In describing the dimensions of change, Evans argues that change must be desirable and feasible. He includes a useful table of tasks of change (p. 56), which describes "unfreezing" the school's culture by increasing the fear of not trying, making change meaningful to the change agents, developing new behaviors and ways of thinking, revising existing structures and norms, and generating support for change. In one of his key chapters, Evans addresses the issue of the "reluctant faculty" and offers an analysis of the faculty member in midcareer (the average age of teachers in the US is forty-five). In part, midcareer educators are where they should be: their personal roles (partner, parent, community member) in life have become important, and the material rewards of work have become necessary expectations. Yet for many, educating young people has become less challenging and the rewards and recognition for what they do have become less frequent. These faculty are isolated and unfreezing them is a significant challenge. Schools must offer more new opportunities for leadership, appropriately recognize and reward teachers at all stages of their careers, and seek new ways for teachers to develop professionally and personally. Additionally, to undertake effective change, schools must assess their organizational capacity by examining six school specific contexts, which Evans describes in some depth: (1) Occupational framework (2) Politics (3) History (4) Stress (5) Finances, and (6) Culture (pp. 119-143).
In the last section of the book, Evans focuses on leadership as a key dimension of innovation. Given that effective reform in today's schools requires trust and consensus, authenticity is the key quality for school leaders - be they teachers, administrators, or parents. Major change, he argues, almost never arises from the bottom up, it comes from purposeful leadership. Purposeful leadership means generating consensus around a school's core purposes and demonstrating tireless commitment to them. Purposeful leadership builds followership and with followership comes change. (Evans offers an exploration of six ways to build optimal participation on pages 246-252.) Leaders should emphasize the positive, keep the path clear (when you add, take something away), and be flexible with timelines. The leader can't ask others to change unless s/he changes first. And, leaders must challenge "unprincipled resistance" from staff who violate group values. Schools, like America's top corporations, must reward people for trying innovations, and avoid punishing failure.
This book, more than most I've ever read, is true to its title. Evans is humane, intelligent, insightful, and realistic. This book continues to enrich me each time I re-read it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
"Every School Leader should Read this Book!" 11 May 2003
By Irvin Scott - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This books is full of inspiration, information, and hope. I am so blessed to have come across this book in the early stages of my educational leadership experience. I have been a principal for less than a year. No matter where my leadership "road" takes me, I am sure that I will always reference the reading of this book as playing a pivotal role in shaping me as a leader. In this respect, it will rank second to only one other powerful book which plays a similar, yet infinitely more powerful role: the Bible.
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