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Teaching Matters Most

A School Leader’s Guide to Improving Classroom Instruction
By: Thomas M. McCann, Alan C. Jones, Gail A. Aronoff

Foreword by Deborah Meier
A Co-Publication With Learning Forward

This book’s three-step process outlines how to envision what great teaching looks like, measure current instruction against that standard, and work relentlessly to improve instruction accordingly.

Full description

Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12, Elementary, Secondary
  • ISBN: 9781452205106
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Year: 2012
  • Page Count: 208
  • Publication date: December 24, 2012

Price: $40.95

Price: $40.95
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A laser-beam focus on improving instruction to improve learning

Saying "teaching matters most" is easy, and seems obvious. Making it the top priority for school leaders and staff is not so easy—in fact, it's messy. If we want to change how students write, compute, and think, then teachers must change how they teach. They must transform the old "assign-and-assess" model into engaging, compassionate, coherent, and rigorous instruction. The authors show school leaders how to make this happen amidst myriad distractions, initiatives, and interruptions.

Unlike other books that stop at evaluating teachers and instruction, this work demonstrates how to grow schools' instructional capacities with a three-step process that involves:

  1. Envisioning what good teaching looks like
  2. Measuring the quality of current instruction against this standard
  3. Working relentlessly to move the quality of instruction closer and closer to the ideal

The authors provide helpful guidance on issues such as hiring, induction, professional development, mentoring, and teacher evaluation. Each chapter offers specific action steps toward building the blueprint for improvement. Also included are frameworks for completing instructional audits in schools, and probes, instruments, and protocols for measuring and tracking the quality of instruction. Leaders will find excellent guidance for spearheading and sustaining a focused and aligned effort to improve the quality of teaching to impact all learners.

Key features

  • Provides school leaders with a vision of what exceptional teaching looks like and a blueprint for achieving serious improvement in the overall quality of teaching in their schools.
  • Focuses intentionally and sharply on a limited number of pedagogical priorities for growing the instructional capacities within their schools, including induction and mentoring, ongoing professional development, teacher evaluation that includes the use of student insights, and sustaining exceptional instruction.
  • Offers probes, observational frameworks for completing instructional audits in schools, instruments, and protocols to use in measuring the quality of instruction in a school at the moment, and tracking changes over time.
  • Each chapter concludes with Questions for Discussion and Reflection and Action Steps for Getting Started


Thomas M. McCann photo

Thomas M. McCann

Thomas M. McCann is an associate professor of English at Northern Illinois University, where he contributes to the teacher certification program. He taught high school for 25 years, including seven years working in an alternative high school. He has been a high school English department chair, an assistant principal, and an assistant superintendent. His published work has appeared in Educational Leadership, Research in the Teaching of English, the English Journal, and the Illinois English Bulletin. His co-authored books include Explorations: Introductory Activities for Literature and Composition, 7-12 (National Council of Teachers of English, 1987), In Case You Teach English: An Interactive Casebook for Preservice and Prospective Teachers (Merrill/Prentice Hall, 2002), Supporting Beginning English Teachers (NCTE, 2005), and Talking in Class (NCTE, 2006). He edited and contributed a chapter to Reflective Teaching, Reflective Learning (Heinemann, 2005). He is the co-author of The Dynamics of Writing Instruction (Heinemann, 2010). The National Council of Teachers of English awarded him the Richard A. Meade Award for research about the concerns of beginning teachers. He also received the Paul and Kate Farmer Award from NCTE for his writing for the English Journal.

Alan C. Jones photo

Alan C. Jones

Dr. Alan C. Jones is an Associate Professor of Educational Administration for Saint Xavier University, Chicago, Illinois. His teaching career includes teaching English at DuSable Upper Grade Center in Chicago, Illinois, and social studies at Thornton Township High School, in Harvey, Illinois. He began his administrative career as an Activities Director at Thornton Township High School and went on to become an Assistant Principal at Bremen Township High School and served as Principal of Community High School District 94, in West Chicago, Illinois for seventeen years. Under his leadership, Community High School was awarded the Blue Ribbon School of Excellence in 1993 and was recognized as a 1995 School of Excellence by HISPANIC Magazine. His publications include articles in educational journals on instructional leadership and school reform, and two books: Students! Do Not Push Your Teacher Down the Stairs on Friday: A Teacher's Notebook (Quadrangle Books, 1972) and Becoming A Strong Instructional Leader: Breaking the Cycle of Reform Failure (Teachers College Press, 2012).

Gail A. Aronoff photo

Gail A. Aronoff

Mrs. Gail Aronoff is an educational consultant who worked for 37 years in several schools, both as teacher and administrator. She has worked with students with special needs in elementary, middle school, and high school, and served as a liaison between schools and the families of struggling learners. At the high school level, she taught struggling learners for fourteen years and held the position of Assistant Principal for Student Services for twelve years. She served a highly diverse population with many ESL students as well as those from low income families. She has mentored and supervised teachers and administrators, creating and implementing model programs to address the needs of reluctant learners and those with special needs. Mrs. Aronoff currently serves as a consultant to schools for school improvement and reform.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Foreword by Deborah Meier

Preface: Lessons Learned From Experience

A “New” Take in School Improvement

Central Theme

Organization of the Book

What Makes This Book Distinctive


About the Authors

1. What are common practices in schools?

What We Found in Classrooms

Truths Hidden in Plain View

Transforming Accountability

New Direction

Are There “Best Practices” in Teaching?

Bringing Best Practices to Scale

Are Some Practices Better Than Others?

The Poverty of Prescribing Best Practices

2. What distinguishes quality teaching?

Three Classrooms, Three Practitioners

A Simple Truth Hidden in Plain View

Disjointed Teaching

Why Teachers Are Frustrated

What Is Quality Teaching?

Observing High-Quality Teaching

Instructional Systems

The Road Less Traveled

3. How do we learn about the quality of our teaching?

How to Make the Case for an Emphasis on Teacher Quality

Three Leadership Requirements

Defining Quality Teaching

How to Engage School Personnel in Devising a Vision of Quality Instruction

Some Rudiments of Quality Teaching

The Importance of Curriculum Coherence

Learning From Students

The Current State of Teaching in Your School

How to Evaluate the Quality of Teaching in Your School

4. What should induction and mentoring look like?

Basic Components of a Teacher Mentor Program

Facing Critical Junctures Together

Planning for New Teachers’ Success

5. What should professional development look like?

What We Know About Professional Development

The Disregarded Truths of Professional Development

The Components of a Professional Learning Culture

Building Blocks of Professional Learning

Leading Professional Learning Communities

6. How can teacher evaluaiton become more meaningful?

“Drive-By” Teacher Evaluation

“Absentee Landords”

Lists and Rubrics Abound

7. How can we sustain a culture of exceptional instruction?

Ten Actions to Sustain High-Quality Teaching

Systems in Place

Sanctity of the Classroom

Envisioning Quality Teaching

Right People in Right Places

Balanced Leadership

Clear and Timely Communication

Standards for Professional Conduct


Reflection and Continuous Improvement

Ongoing Professional Dialogues

8. How do we face our leadership challenges?

Suppressing Distraction

Building Principal’s Knowledge

Building Trust

Influencing Resistant Teachers

Coping With the Pace

Final Thoughts


A. How Can You Spot a Really Good Teacher?

B. Framework for Observing Classes

C. Student Forum Questions

D. Teacher Interview Questions





Price: $40.95
Volume Discounts applied in Shopping Cart

For Instructors

Request Review Copy

When you select 'request review copy', you will be redirected to Sage Publishing (our parent site) to process your request.