Catalytic Improvement Communities

Cultivating Flourishing Schools

Edited by:
Jonathan Eckert, Baylor University
Bradley W. Carpenter, Sul Ross State University

A volume in the series: Leadership for School Improvement. Editor(s): Khalid Arar, Texas State University.

Published 2024

In chemistry, a catalyst accelerates change without being depleted. As we seek school improvement, we need sustainable, scalable changes, and therefore catalytic structures are ideal. From communities of practice to professional learning communities to Networked Improvement Communities (NICs) much has been made in the scholarly and consultancy literature about collaborative approaches to improvement.

The benefit of improvement communities that operate in networks over professional learning communities or isolated communities of practice is that they allow for broader experimentation, more rapid iteration, and greater possibility for scaling improvement. Educators have many tools and protocols to support the various approaches to improvement, evidenced by the many tools the Carnegie Foundation has developed for NICs alone. However, we need to understand how these are being used in a wide range of contexts and iterations.

This book answers three questions: 1) How can improvement communities act as catalysts? 2) How do improvement communities serve as discipline, creative inquiry? 3) Most importantly, how do improvement communities support flourishing individuals? These three questions serve as the drivers of three sections with practical recommendations and insights for teachers, administrators, and policymakers that will lead to more sustainable leadership practices and thriving educators, students, and communities.

Introduction: Catalytic Improvement, Jonathan Eckert and Bradley Carpenter. SECTION I: IMPROVEMENT COMMUNITIES AS CATALYSTS. Knitting the Network: Central Office Leadership That Supports Social Learning, Emma Parkerson. Sustainability Leaders’ Network: A National Network Supporting Local Change For Whole-School Sustainability, Lisa Kensler, Emily Gerger, Phoebe Beierle, and Joy Rushing. Surviving the Drought: How Networks Help Leaders Thrive Through Crisis, Matt Thomas. SECTION II: IMPROVEMENT COMMUNITIES AS DISCIPLINED, CREATIVE INQUIRY. Building Transformative Capacity in Schools: Supporting Student Voices in School Reform Efforts, Linsay DeMartino. Building a Scalable Model for Networked Improvement Across Schools: The Case of District Leadership Teams, Craig De Voto, Kathleen Pitvorec, and Alison Castro Superfine. A Tale From the Field: A Leadership Networked Improvement Community, Darren Iselin and Rob Loe. SECTION III: STORIES OF IMPROVEMENT FOR FLOURISHING COMMUNITIES. Learning to Lead: Improvement Communities as a Scaffold for Teachers’ Leadership, Emma Parkerson and Edit Khachatryan. Transformational Education: A Special Education Approach to Relationships, Collaboration, and Belonging, Thomas Boehm. Catalytic Improvement Communities and Educator Flourishing in Christian Schools, Lynn Swaner and Matthew H. Lee. What Is Next? Jonathan Eckert. About the Editors. About the Contributors.