In this interview with Eric Kalenze, author of What the Academy Taught Us: Improving schools from the bottom-up in a top-down transformation era (John Catt Educational), find out the difference between the top-down approaches typical of the “accountability era” and the more favored bottom-up approaches, which give the entire faculty ownership in the school improvement process.

In the interview, Kalenze describes the successful change initiative in the school where he taught, from how it began to how it was executed from the school level down to individual classrooms. As you listen, think about how this compares to schools where you’ve worked, and reflect on the following questions:

 Kalenze describes some of the steps to giving all teachers true ownership in the school improvement initiative. How would this play out in your school, if classroom teachers were given the same kind of freedom to execute change according to their own style and strengths?

 What do you think is the biggest mistake we make in schools today, from a leadership perspective? If you are a school leader now, or plan to become one, what are some things you plan to do differently than how you’ve done it before or have observed from other leaders?

 What do you think of Kalenze’s idea to have school teams who are familiar with evidence-based practices, who can then help the rest of the faculty implement practices that have adequate research support? How might this look in your school?

Learn more about Eric Kalenze’s book, What the Academy Taught Us, and more great John Catt Educational publications, by visiting 

About Eric Kalenze

Eric Kalenze’s career in education has included posts in teaching, coaching, administration, and consulting. He is the author of 2019’s What the Academy Taught Us: Improving schools from the bottom-up in a top-down transformation era and 2014’s Education is Upside-Down, and he regularly contributes pieces about education practice, research, and reform to publications like Education WeekEducation PostThe Hechinger ReportEducation Next, and TES US, as well as to his blog, ‘A Total Ed Case’.

Based in Minnesota’s Twin Cities metro area, he currently teaches high school and serves as Curriculum and Instruction Lead at Apple Valley’s FIT Academy, plus works with schools/districts as an independent consultant and serves as researchED’s US Ambassador.

Follow Eric on Twitter @erickalenze