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Stop Fake Work in Education - Book Cover Look Inside

Stop Fake Work in Education

Creating Real Work Cultures That Drive Student Success

By: Gaylan William Nielson, Mary Elizabeth "Betty" Burks

This data-driven, research-based guide provides a cultural blueprint and three-part model for turning Fake Work into Real Work, with tools for gaining focus, building teams, and improving behaviors.

Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12
  • ISBN: 9781544381329
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Year: 2020
  • Page Count: 296
  • Publication date: July 27, 2020

Price: $32.95

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Don’t do more work—do the right work.

Educators at all levels have increasing demands keeping them working harder than ever, but they are often working hard on things that don’t really help them reach the loftiest of goals—student success. This “Fake Work” can mire the most dedicated educator in exhaustion, burnout, and a lack of confidence that improvement is possible. 

Nielson and Burks show leaders and their teams how to stop doing Fake Work, by providing tools for gaining focus, building high-performance teams, and identifying and driving the right work with the right behaviorsWhen you offer your team a better way of working, planning, and collaborating, you turn Fake Work into Real Work—and stagnancy into dynamic change. This data-driven, research-based guide shows you

An overall approach to addressing your culture—the foundational elements that supports the change that sets you up for maximum performance.
A simple, three-part model—strategy, alignment, execution—for shedding Fake Work
Road maps for aligning organizational strategies and actions
Tools for gaining focus, building teams, and cultivating productive behaviors
Real educators’ stories
Exercises, reflection questions, charts, checklists, and more

School change remains elusive when the path to success is murky. Clear the way for principals, teachers and students by turning Fake Work into Real Work—and uncertainty into true success.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Companion Website Contents

Foreword by Debbie Silver


About the Authors


     It’s All About Student Success

     This Book Is About Real Work

     We Use Real Educators’ Stories

     Our Research and Experience Taught Us to Focus on Work

     Focus on Work

     This Book Is Practical, Reflective, and Tool-Based

     Take Advantage of the Benefits of the Book

     The Book Comes From Our Converging Journeys From Diverse Roots to Common Paths

Section I. The Foundational Principles of Fake Work and Real Work—and Knowing the Difference

Chapter 1. Fake Work: A Road to Nowhere

     Real Work and Fake Work Defined

     Fake Work Negatively Influences School Boards, Administrators, Teachers, and Students

     “Standing on the X”: Focusing on the Point, the Pinnacle, and the Launching Pad for Success

     Fake Work Is Illusive and Easily Misdiagnosed Because It Is Work—Often Hard Work

     The Nature of Work Has Changed and Educators Are Overwhelmed With the New Reality

Section II. Understanding the Causes of Fake Work: How It Damages the Work Environment

Chapter 2. Exploring the Origins of Fake Work in Education

     Fake Work Is Plentiful and Complicated

     The Root Causes of Fake Work

Chapter 3. The Culture of Fake Work and Four Causes That Enable Dysfunctionality

     Cause 1—A Complacent Culture: Organizations Allow Old Habits to Inhibit Excellence

     Culture Drives Performance and Is Threatened by an Accumulation of Flaws

     Cause 2—Ineffective Teams: Teams Have Few Common Goals and Minimal Collaboration

     Providing Perspective on Professional Learning Communities

     Cause 3—Inadequate Communication: Poor Communication Results in Missed Opportunities, Mixed Messages, and Poor Problem-Solving

     Communication Breakdowns

     Cause 4—Unprincipled and Negative Behaviors: Cultural Values Fade When the Wrong Behaviors Are Unchecked and the Right Ones Are Unsupported

Chapter 4. Fake Work Results From Poor Strategies, Weak Priorities, and the Failure to Align

     Cause 5—No Strategic Clarity: Without a Clear and Common Roadmap, Organizations Flounder

     Cause 6—Unclear Work Priorities: Too Often, Critical Tasks Are Not Linked to Strategies

     Cause 7—No Strategic Alignment: Without Alignment, Teams Default to Silos and Lack Collaboration and Cohesion

Chapter 5. Two Causes That Undermine Executing and Sustaining Strategic Implementation

     Cause 8—Failure to Execute: Organizational Intent Falters Without Real Work Plans and Being Accountable for Them

     Cause 9—Diminishing Long-Term Commitments: Individual and Team Effectiveness Dwindles When Teams Fail to Manage, Maintain, and Sustain Implementation

     Summary of the Causes of Fake Work and Transitioning to Real Work

Section III. The Paths to Real Work: A Step-by-Step Process for Strategy, Alignment, and Execution

Prologue: Five Fundamentals for Doing Real Work

     Build a High-Performance Culture

     Vision and Mission Provide a Mythic Quality to a Very Real World

     Culture Thrives in a Moral Fabric With Values Interconnected by Trust

     Teams Are the Operational Reality of a Performing Culture

     Prioritize Strategic Plans That Focus on Ambitious Targets

     Adhere to the Process for Real Work: The Work Itself

     Embrace the “Everyone a Leader” Type of Leadership

     Ensure That Your Work Is Renewable and Sustainable

Path 1: Create a High-Performance Educational Culture

     The Essence of Culture

     Step 1: Assess Your Organization to Find Out Who You Are Now

     Step 2: Create an Inventory of Behaviors You Want to Cultivate

     Step 3: Transform Teams Into Cooperative and Collaborative Powerhouses

     Step 4: Prioritize Communication and Communication Planning

     Summary and the Path to Action

Path 2: Think Strategically

     Step 1: Invest in Strategic Thinking to Gaze Into the Future

     Step 2: Find the Right Questions and Turn Them Into Insightful Answers

     Step 3: Do a SWOT Analysis to Gauge Your Fitness and to Penetrate Factors That Affect Planning

     Step 4: Conduct a Stakeholder Analysis to Plan for Partnerships and Potential Distractions

     Summary and the Path to Action

Path 3: Plan Strategically

     Step 1: Understand the Elements of a Strategic Plan

     Step 2: Engage Strategic Leaders at Every Level

     Step 3: Collect Data Strategically

     Step 4: Write an Executive Summary

     Step 5: Formulate a Vision and Mission That Epitomize Your Highest Aspirations for the Future

     Step 6: Identify Your “Navigational Stars”—the Values Vital to Your New Culture

     Step 7: Create Objectives That Focus on Your Biggest Challenges

     Step 8: Create a Dashboard for Your Objectives and Watch Them Closely

     Step 9: Create a Portrait of a Graduate

     Step 10: Develop Strategies to Achieve the Objectives

     Step 11: Partner With the Board to Work on the District’s Vision

     Summary and the Path to Action

Path 4: Focus on Your Real Work Priorities

     Step 1: Develop a Task List That Reflects What You Do at Work

     Step 2: Consult With Your Team

     Step 3: Relate Your Work to the Strategic Plan

     Step 4: Prioritize Real Work Tasks

     Step 5: Narrow and Refine Your Real Work Tasks

     Step 6: Shift Your Work Paradigm

     Summary and the Path to Action

Path 5: Align Cultures, Leaders, Teams, and Schools

     Step 1: Ensure That Alignment Is a Team Process

     Step 2: Establish Alignment as the Essential Connection—the Glue—Between Strategy and Execution

     Step 3: Create Alignment at Every Level—Systemwide

     Step 4: Build the Critical Steps to Establish Alignment

     Summary and The Path to Action

Path 6: Execute the Real Work

     Step 1: Develop Real Work Plans for Each Priority

     Step 2: Plan for Strategic Execution of Your Real Work Plan

     Step 3: Plan to Cascade Real Work Plans and Priorities Throughout the Entire Organization

     Summary and the Path to Action

Path 7: Sustain the Real Work

     Step 1: Cascade the Real Work Process Throughout the Organization

     Step 2: Monitor Performance to Promote Accountability and Teamwork

     Step 3: Perform Quarterly Reviews to Demonstrate Ongoing Commitments

     Step 4: Establish Real Work Meeting Guidelines

     Step 5: Celebrate Success and Stimulate Renewed Commitment

     Step 6: Empower People and Build Leaders

     Summary and the Path to Action

Epilogue: And Then There Was Transformation