Tools For The Architect of Whole School Change: A Handbook of Information and Strategies

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Peter Taylor


I have compiled a handbook for school community leaders who are trying to implement whole school change. The premise is that whole school change will only be successful if an earnest group of individuals meets in a democratic environment to identify problems and establish goals and desired outcomes. To that end this handbook is a ‘toolbox’ that includes information and strategies for those community members to use. The tools include overviews of information about moral development, cognitive psychology and organizational theory. These overviews are intended to provide information that will support and encourage educational leaders as they do their work. The tools also include an overview of the Strategic (Participatory) Planning Process and the Consensus Workshop Methodology. These are strategies to bring individuals together to make change within organizations. The Strategic Planning Process (SPP) was developed by the Institute for Cultural Affairs (ICA), in Canada. It is a participatory process that challenges a group of committed representatives from an organization to envision the future, identify obstacles to realizing that future, chart strategic directions, and make concrete plans for change. To challenge participants’ thinking about the complex organization that is a public school, I include an overview of Bolman and Deal’s organizational theory from Reframing Organizations (1997). The ‘Four-Frames Model’ gives school leaders a way to use multiple mental models – four frames - to interpret problems, events and relationships within an organization. Assumptions are challenged and adjusted to improve the actions that we take. As I worked within the disciplines of psychology – cognitive and moral – I considered how students reason about problems in their lives. I learned that moral and cognitive development occur as a result of dealing with information that puts old ideas and new ideas in tension. The handbook provides information about Kohlberg’s theory of moral development. Kohlberg worked with adolescents and related his work to establishing school environments that cause individual moral development to happen more readily. The study of cognitive development does much to inform not only teaching and learning but also the nature of social interactions within a high school community. Information about how we make decisions is theory that each educator should have. Cognitive psychologists study how individuals solve problems. Information about defining a problem and the importance of learning and using a problem solving process is a part of the handbook. Imagine taking time to reflect on the work that you do every day. Imagine doing that reflection with colleagues who are committed to implementing changes that will improve the work environment. Imagine having all the tools that you need to do that work gathered in one place. Tools for the architect of whole school change – a handbook of information and strategies, provides what you need to do that work. The process and the theories to support the process, brings members of an organization together to envision a better organization and create an action plan and an implementation plan to make that vision a reality.


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