Saturday, November 12, 2016

Review: Transforming School Culture: How to Overcome Staff Division by Dr. Anthony Muhammad

Rosa Isiah, Ed. D.

Dr. Muhammad's book, Transforming School Culture, completely changed my perspectives on school culture, leadership, and student achievement.  I picked up the book 7 years ago as a new Assistant Principal and had an opportunity to listen to Dr. Muhammad speak shortly after. As a new administrator, the book and his message were exactly what I needed to help me better understand my teacher teams and the journey from a toxic to a healthy school culture. This is my sixth year as a principal and Transforming School Culture continues to be my go-to culture framework.

Dr. Muhammad’s book is organized in a way that allows the reader to navigate the book easily.  The reader can choose and target specific topics or choose to read it from cover to cover. Dr. Muhammad’s introduction in chapter one explains the need for an overhaul of our current educational system. The research presented helps the reader understand the need to shift from the current system to a system that supports all students, including historically underserved students.

The next few chapters focus on four distinctive groups of educators identified in Dr. Muhammad’s research: the Believers, the Tweeners, the Survivors, and the Fundamentalists. Dr. Muhammad goes into the characteristics of the four groups and their “divisive impact on school culture.” It is clear throughout the chapters that understanding and influencing change within those groups is the key to the transformation of a toxic school culture.

Dr. Muhammad ends the book with implications for practice. He makes practical recommendations including three major areas of action that will support the shift from a toxic to a healthy school culture. Dr. Muhammad also highlights the importance of recognition, celebration, and mentoring in a healthy school culture.


Transforming School Culture is a must read for educators, coaches, and educational leaders. Dr. Muhammad’s research is comprehensible and compelling. He presents a powerful case for the development of a strong collaborative culture in all schools and the WHY of our work. All students deserve a healthy learning environment and it should be every educator’s moral imperative to achieve that goal. Transforming School Culture is the tool you need to begin your learning community’s transformational journey to a healthy school culture.

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