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Book Review: “Rethink, Rebuild, Rebound"

Jenny Starkman

Are you an educator or administrator ready to invigorate your learning environment? Or perhaps an instructor looking for a new textbook for your educational leadership course? If so, check out “Rethink, Rebuild, Rebound: The Three R's of Education. A Framework for Shared Responsibility and Accountability in Education” (2012).

Three experienced educators bring their varied life, educational, and business experiences together to build this book as a framework for developing shared responsibility and accountability. Authors John D. Balls, A. Douglas Eury, and Jane King reflect on their careers as they address the current cry in education of a “Lack of accountability for educational outcomes the country so desperately needs in troubled times.”

“Rethink, Rebuild, Rebound” offers the hope, with researched information and structures, through practice to answer these criticisms and this current cry. The authors feel as though respect and respectability are missing from education and have created a textbook and companion workbook to address these and other issues.

The book and workbook are all well-organized. Starting with the table of contents and ending with a thorough index, all are clearly detailed for return reference. There are four sections: Finding and (Re)Igniting Passion/Disposition, Changing Learning Cultures with Value-added Experiences, 21st Century Skills, and Successful School Models.

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Section One is the shortest of the four, with just two chapters. Included is a list of 11 dispositions teachers should be assessed on. Not surprisingly, things like respect for diversity, advocacy, honesty, and professional conduct top the 11. Disposition of the teacher is an integral part of being accountable in education, as the authors feel it has a deep impact on the student and her achievement, success, and growth. Many teachers will feel a connection to the authors’ passion. Also introduced to the reader is the power of teacher empowerment, a “Supercharger for passion.” This is a common thread throughout, that empowerment is not an activity but an attitude.

Each chapter in each section ends the same way. Called the “Takeaway,” key points are provided that not only summarize the prior information but provides it in a way that it makes a great discussion guide or conversation starter. Included as well is an Application section, with a scenario that allows the reader to apply what they’ve just read. Often, the Application includes collaboration with teammates or classmates.

Section Two hosts 11 chapters. Strengths of this section include definition of high-performing schools, including defining learning culture and academic excellence and the details of how changing a learning culture impacts changing student learning. Specifically, chapter 10 offers excellent questions about leadership as it transforms organizational performance and areas such as organization, stakeholder involvement, and professional development. These key factors remind me of the types of things covered often by a quality school improvement plan. Included in this section is a chapter solely dedicated to a shared belief system. It’s a powerful chapter written by people who truly believe in it.

Section Three’s topic is the 21st century learner and carries strong statements about the future of education in all of the chapters. Simple graphics help illustrate the basics of education in the 21st century and help the reader stay focused on global world classrooms, teaching dispositions, and strategies. Collaboration is also featured in this section, along with other professional development opportunities.

As mentioned, each chapter ends with an Application, and it’s worth mentioning at times the target audience seems to blend from novice educators to well-experienced educators. For example, one Application is to plan strategies in lesson plan for understanding by students, perfect for someone looking into education for a career. Indeed, some of the information would lend itself to a new educator and I would think be way too simplistic for an experienced educator heading into administration. Later, an Application gives the scenario “You are the lead advisor of an educational design team who has been assigned to develop the 21st century curriculum to use in a school.” This is certainly not something a person new to education would be able to handle. There seems to be a confusion to the mastery level of the reader. The text itself is quite educational and has an academic feel to it, as opposed to a more user-friendly approach to the information. Readers will still find the message well worth the read.

The last section focuses on successful student models. The authors have created a list of the keys to success, such as student achievement and goals, collaboration, creativity, accountability, and emotion. To coordinate with these keys to success are six key actions (or short-term goals) to help drive success, such as empowerment as an energizer and data-driven decisionmaking. Several of the chapters in each unit address high school success and failures, and this section is no different. Data is provided to support their claims.

Along with the textbook is an accompanying workbook that provides concrete activities to use. It pairs nicely with the textbook as the activities, Applications, and Takeaways complement each other. The pages are nicely perforated, which make the rubrics for the different suggested models far more useful. I appreciate the list of team collaboration activities, and the added checklists on high-performing organizations, empowerment, identifying barriers to empowerment, and needs assessment make excellent additional resources.

This text could be used within a classroom setting, or as a faculty study group -- both with supported conversation. It could also be used by those who are looking to re-energize their educational life. Because it seems to sample all areas of education, some areas to a deeper degree, the audience pool could be vast.

If you’re ready to rethink what you are doing and rebuild it to greater success, check out “Rethink, Rebuild, Rebound: A Framework for Shared Responsibility and Accountability in Education” by John D. Balls, A. Douglas Eury, and Jane C. King. I am sure you will find something new to process.

Purchase "Rethink, Rebuild, Rebound" now.