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A laser-beam focus on improving instruction to improve learning!
If we want to change how students write, compute, and think, then
teachers must transform the old “assign-and-assess” model into
engaging, 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

This book is for principals who are ready to roll up their sleeves and do what it takes to create lasting school improvement. Drawing on 35 years of experience as a teacher and principal, Alan Jones offers a powerful new vision for our troubled school systems—a prescription for the development of Strong Instructional Leaders. Jones describes the challenges administrators face and then lays out a plan for moving beyond keeping up appearances and daily routines to having a meaningful impact on student learning and achievement. His plan shows administrators how to respect the abilities of teachers and students while building staff investment in a shared instructional worldview. Representing an important next step in school reform, this inspirational book:
  • Analyzes the failure of our schools to help students grow intellectually, socially, and emotionally, and provides the foundation for change.
  • Juxtaposes two paradigms of instructional leadership, the traditional one that defines school leadership as a management function versus another that views school leadership as an educational function.
  • Describes the process and the qualities necessary to become a Strong Instructional Leader.


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“School leaders devote a great deal of time attending to the managerial routines of the organization without regard to how these routines might advance the mission of the school. As Alan C. Jones reports in Living Up to Your School Mission Statement, when preoccupied by managerial duties, school leaders seldom pursue intentionally the high-minded goals identi- fied in a school’s mission statement. With this important book, Jones notes differences across managing, leading, and championing. He illustrates graphically how the preoccupations in the main office and the practices in the classroom often proceed without regard to what a mission statement identifies as the central endeavors of the school. For the committed school leader, Jones identifies a pathway for moving beyond recurring managerial tasks and devoting energies to the pursuit of the significant goals that a community has embraced as the mission of a school.”

—Thomas M. McCann, professor, Northern Illinois University

“A definite reminder that mission statements are a big driver of positive outcomes for schools. Develop your statement and keep it relevant. Live your statement in everything you do, especially in the delivery of class- room instruction. This book is a must-read!”

Robert J. Madonia, EdD, retired school superintendent, school board consultant and university adjunct professor

“Living Up to Your School Mission Statement is a challenge to educa- tors who believe more is possible, even as they wonder if they’re strong enough to swim upstream against the educational status quo. Those courageous enough to follow Jones’ lead will be empowered, emboldened, and invigorated. So will their school communities.”

—Jeremy Ekeler, Nebraska Catholic Conference, Associate Director of Education Policy

“Jones writes with the voice of experience and as a friend of young people. He consistently challenges what he sees as the ‘business as usual’ of schooling, including the current dominant model of school reform—raise standards, test children, reward and punish teachers and principals.”

Robert V. Bullough, Jr., Center for the Improvement of Teacher Education and Schooling (CITES), Brigham Young University

“Finally a book that really gets inside the deep, human meaning of what it means to become an instructional leader. From someone who has lived it, but who also sees the big picture, Becoming a Strong Instructional Leader is insightful, practical, and uplifting. ‘Be an instructional leader not an instructional manager,’ says Jones. And then he shows us what this means, philosophically and strategically.”

Michael Fullan, Professor Emeritus, OISE/University of Toronto

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