Spirit Work and the Science of Collaboration

Corwin Press 2021
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Foreword by Margaret J. Wheatley,
A Joint Publication with AASA,
The School Superintendents Association

Spirit is the essence of character—of what it means to be human. Finding hope in the power of collaboration underpinned by ‘spirit work’—the care and love of students as learners—Fullan & Edwards capture how some school districts are creating a deep learning environment for all. 

COVID-19, racial inequity, polarizing politics, mass misinformation, and myriad other challenges have made the future of education seem bleaker than ever. Spirit Work and the Science of Collaboration speaks directly to leaders’ hearts and advocates for the development of two qualities that will bring back hope for the future of education: “spirit work” and the science of collaboration. Spirit work centers love and care for students, staff, and communities as the impetus for creating a positive culture, while collaboration is the vehicle for manifesting that spirit work. Through powerful case studies and vignettes, the authors show how spirit and collaboration represent revolutionary potential for education. Readers will find

  • A lifeline amid overwhelming conditions.
  • Hope for themselves and the future of education
  • Practical ideas for building cohesion throughout school communities

We cannot allow our best advocates for children to be consumed by today’s challenges. Spirit work and collaboration can pave the way to a brighter future.



Our overwhelming thanks to the eight Superintendents who gave unstintingly of their time to us; And to their magnificent contributions to spirit work and the science of collaboration. To Meg Wheatley for her spontaneous and enthusiastic commitment to writing a brilliant and deep Foreword. Thanks to Claudia Cuttress who took charge of the manuscript—no one combines quality, speed and creativity like Claudia does. To Autumn Hampton for the inspiring and beautiful cover design. And to Corwin Publishers, especially Ariel Curry and Melanie Birdsall, who provided great advice and support at all stages of production, and produced the book on a very short timeline.

—Michael and Mark

To thank everyone I should by name would fill several pages. I have to be brief. I owe great thanks to our Deep-Learning Team, storming the world with great spirt and partnership. To ‘System colleagues’, getting ever so close to improving whole systems of learning. To my family what can I say? Wife Wendy as a loving, imaginative, and full-on stalwart in my life. My five children—to be so close after all these years is a blessing. I am proud and lucky. Finally, to Mark—how could two so different people make such a smooth and productive team. Thanks all!


A special thank you to every teacher, principal, administrator, custodian, bus driver, food service staff, clerical staff for your dedication and Spirit Work. To my wife Marcia, and family Luke, Autumn, Jared, Adrian and Harlan thanks for your constant nurturance. Thank you Michael for years of leadership and service for students around the world and for the honor of working with you.