Realization: The Change Imperative for Deepening District-Wide Reform

29286_Sharratt_Realization_72ppiRGB_150pixwLyn Sharratt, Michael Fullan Foreword by Kenneth Leithwood

A Joint Publication with the Ontario Principals’ Council: A powerful approach to leading and sustaining district-wide change!

Written by an experienced district administrator who successfully accomplished reform and an internationally recognized expert in large-scale educational change, this compelling book offers an approach to leading whole-district reform. Learn how to move from capacity building to full implementation by empowering colleagues throughout the organization to advance change. This resource includes:

  • 13 research-based parameters for improving performance
  • A 14th parameter—Realization—that goes beyond local capacity building to system-wide change
  • School-specific strategies that support high-yield assessment and instruction
  • Insights from real practitioners who have strengthened district-wide school improvement programs for all students
  • A pull-out implementation guide on how to deeply implement the parameters through four progressive, scaffolded learning stages


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“Sharratt and Fullan are an educational dream team! The combination of Sharratt’s keen observations from her battle-tested district leadership experience and Fullan’s astute perspectives on the essential challenges of systemic reform produce fresh insights into the most difficult, yet most central challenges facing local education reformers today. Together the authors generate important new knowledge of how to sustain and deepen district-wide instructional reform beyond the first generation.”—Jonathan Supovitz, Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania Senior Researcher, Consortium for Policy Research in Education

“Large-scale reform is both seductive and elusive. The promise of system-wide improvement has resulted in many false dawns where change has not been substantial or sustained. In Realization, Lyn Sharratt and Michael Fullan provide a model of district-wide change that is grounded in reality. The model is compelling because it works. Those seeking a robust and transferable model of system-wide reform need look no further.” — Alma Harris, Professor, Institute of Education, London, United Kingdom

“There is ample talk about conducting district-wide reform in our schools and board rooms today. However, this is the first opportunity that I have had to read about a research-based and clearly defined recipe for actually making and sustaining those elusive changes in our classrooms. Bravo to the authors for breaking this down for us!” —Sheila Gragg, Technology Integration Coach, Professional Developer, Ashbury College, Canada“

“Realization explores the nature and dimensions of significant district-wide reform for sustained school improvement. It is a deeply grounded and perceptive account for all those involved in school leadership and in school and district policy reform. A must-read for education reformers.” —Brent Davies, Professor, The University of Hull, United Kingdom

“What a breath of fresh air Realization is! Those of us who work in that part of the educational vineyard known as large-scale reform will instantly recognize the authenticity, strategic clarity, and wisdom of the story that Lyn Sharratt and Michael Fullan tell in this book. As they so cogently point out, ‘The real journey begins when learning becomes the work.’” —David Hopkins, Professor Emeritus, Institute of Education, University of London, Former Chief Adviser on School Standards, England

“While reading this book, I envisioned a classroom and school with students who love learning and are able to apply what they learn to real-world situations. I see a collaborative staff focused not on the outcome of a test, but the realization of the potential in each and every student.” —Patti Grammens, Eight-Grade Science Teacher and Department Chair, South Forsyth Middle School, Cumming, GA

“A straight-forward and succinct account of how to meet the needs of all students, from the educators who are ‘walking the talk and talking the walk.’ From school board member to classroom teacher to student to parent to legislator, the authors spell out what it takes to make sure all students achieve.” —Kathy J. Grover, Assistant Superintendent, Curriculum & Instruction, Clever R-V Public Schools, MO

“This is an up-to-date catalogue of best practices for achieving sustained student improvement. It is hopeful and forward-thinking. This book will give you food for thought as well as some concrete steps to reach your goal of sustained student improvement. It’s all about instruction and shared practice.” —Patricia Long Tucker, Regional Superintendent, District of Columbia Public Schools, Washington, DC

“Realization is steeped in novel conceptual and practical insights into the realities of systemic improvement over time. Sharratt and Fullan offer a new and deeper understanding of system capacity building as they vividly capture the multifaceted nature of coherent professional work that results in attainable, sustainable district-wide change in teaching and learning.” —Steve Anderson, Professor, OISE/University of Toronto

In thirty years of working in the educational leadership field I have found that Michael Fullan’s work has become part of my thinking, his contribution to educational leadership has been immense. Over the last decade I have become aware of the considerable contribution Lyn Sharratt has made, she has become a considerable and insightful commentator of key issues of educational leadership. Taking the lead on this book she, with Michael, has produced a valuable addition to the literature.

In the leadership of district wide or regional reform and improvement, the key challenge has always been turning strategy into effective action. This challenge is the central focus of the book. It tackles the fundamental issue of building capacity for effective and sustainable change. This is a book of six chapters with two resource sections at the end for the reader to apply the principles to their own situation. The chapters are initially framed around ‘capacity building: a journey of deepening discovery’ and ‘the nitty-gritty of capacity building’ in chapters one and two. These look at the key issues of setting out the parameters of effective school based improvement. These are followed by chapter three ‘the road to realization’ which looks at embedding improvement through: modelled practice, shared practice, guided practice and interdependent practice. This is a very valuable conceptualisation for effective improvement. Chapter four looks at interdependent practice in detail. This focuses on a more sophisticated and systematic approach to educational reform. This chapter, like the other chapters, has valuable quotes and vignettes that give a vivid reality focus to the ideas in the book. It also has very valuable proformas and examples that the reader can use in their own context. Chapter five ‘the devil is in the detail’ considers the pitfalls and problems of reform and improvement and acts as a timely leadership action alert! Chapter 6 acts as a critical summary and conclusion bringing all the key concepts together.

This is a well-constructed book of great value and a key text for all those involved in educational reform and improvement. –Professor Brent Davies, The University of Hull Business School