Bouncing Back: How Your School Can Succeed in the Face of Adversity – Book Review

Zach Kelehear

Jerry Patterson and his colleagues’ latest work, Bouncing Back: How Your School Can Succeed in the Face of Adversity, combines his earlier work on school change with his more recent work on resiliency of school leaders.

An important element of this book is the use of intensive interviews and case studies from school leaders across the country. What emerges is a practical, research-based manual for helping school leaders identify the following: core values that lead to focused, intentional school change; school climates that provide caring and support amidst change; decision-making paradigms that invite participation and responsibility among the stakeholders; and methods for sustaining change and growth for the long term.

In addressing core values, Patterson, a former superintendent who now teaches educators at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, articulates the important distinction between value-driven versus event-driven change. His use of a gap analysis inventory is especially enlightening as a way to discover the contradiction between what educators value versus how they spend their time.

Patterson states that school leaders can lead change initiatives by creating caring and supportive environments. The discussion is grounded in practical considerations. In a similar vein, the authors create scenarios for building meaningful participation and shared responsibility among various stakeholders. The concepts are sound, but just as important the applications are obvious and manageable.

For school leaders, Bouncing Back offers a view of what matters most, a perspective on organizational change and a vision for sustaining meaningful change in today’s schools.

(Bouncing Back: How Your School Can Succeed in the Face of Adversity by Jerry Patterson, Janice Patterson and Loucretia Collins, Eye on Education, Larchmont, N.Y., 2002, 194 pp., $29.95 softcover)

COPYRIGHT 2003 American Association of School Administrators

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group

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