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You Don't Have to Be Bad to Get Better

You Don't Have to Be Bad to Get Better
A Leader's Guide to Improving Teacher Quality

Foreword by Charlotte Danielson

March 2013 | 152 pages | Corwin
Take your school to the next level!

Are achievement scores seemingly stuck at your school? Are your teachers working hard but getting nowhere? This practical handbook of leadership advice shows how you can break through barriers of achievement and lead your staff toward even greater heights.

Grounded in Candi McKay's research-proven process for instructional leadership, You Don't Have to Be Bad to Get Better makes collaborating with staff the basis for increasing teacher—and student—success. School leaders at all levels will develop:

A deep understanding of how to immerse yourself in the everyday happenings of your school

A workable plan for guiding teachers in their professional growth

Collaboration techniques to ensure all your staff is "on the same page"

Leadership skills vital to improving the quality of teaching

Research shows that the most important factor in student achievement is the quality of the teacher in the classroom. Bring out the best in your teachers through strong instructional leadership and watch student achievement soar!

About the Author
A Laser Like Focus

Organization and Structure

Practical and Useful Features


1. Removing the Rose Colored Glasses
The Rose Colored Glasses Phenomenon

Red Flag Warnings

Demonstrating Moral Courage

Leading Change: Necessary Dispositions

Perceptions about the Role of a School Leader

Confidence in Self as an Instructional Leader

A Growth Mindset

Moral Courage

Key Points about Removing the Rose Colored Glasses

Putting Words into Action

Reflecting on Your Current State

Action Tools

2. No More Lake Wobegon: Creating a Culture of Learning
The Effects of Well-Intended Fiction: “A Culture of Nice”

The Changing Landscape

The Leader’s Role: Essential Beliefs and Understandings

Changing Beliefs: Practice Comes First!

Drinking the Water

Understanding About Learning

A Presumption of Continuous Growth for All

Setting the Stage: Defining Who We Are

Capturing the School’s History

Developing Core Beliefs and Commitments

Developing Trust and Rapport

Step Aside and Lead: Creating Opportunities for Learning

Key Points about Creating a Culture of Learning

Putting Words into Action

Reflecting on Your Current State

Action Tools

3. The Wisdom of Instructional Leadership: What Leaders Need to Know and Do
Knowledge of Staff

Understandings about Teaching and Learning

What Is Good Teaching?

How Good is Good Enough?

How Does Learning Occur?

What is Engagement in Learning?

Skills of the Instructional Leader

Collecting Evidence to Assess Teaching

Engaging in Professional Conversations

Skillful Questioning

Productive Listening

Providing Feedback

Facilitating Professional Goal Setting

Key Points about What Leaders Need to Know

Putting Words into Action

Reflecting on Your Current State

Action Tools

4. The Wisdom of Instructional Practice: What Teachers Need to Know
Playing a Guessing Game

Guessing Games Replaced by Transparency

Understandings about Teaching and Learning

Putting Your Know-How into Action: A Cycle of Continuous Improvement and Growth

Don’t Forget to Feed the Teachers!

A Plan for Teacher Learning

Key Points About What Teachers Need to Know

Putting Words into Action

Reflecting on Your Current State

Action Tool

5. Promoting Teacher Learning: It’s All Talk!
Powerful Conversations

Setting the Stage

Acknowledging the Leader’s Dual Role

Making Intentions Clear

Factors that Impact Conversations

Rapport and Relationship with the Teacher

The Developmental Level of the Teacher

The School Culture

The Data Collected about Teaching and Learning

The Teacher’s Mindset

The Skills of the Leader Facilitating the Conversation

Leading Conversations: When, What and How

When to Talk

What to Talk About

How to Talk

Key Points about Promoting Teacher Learning

Putting Words into Action

Reflect on Your Current State

Action Tool

6. Principals Can’t Lead Alone: The Role of the District Office
Improving Instruction: Does the Central Office Matter?

A Case in Point

Increased Accountability for Leaders

Creating a Culture for Professional Learning: A Case Study

A Powerful First Impression

A History of Principal Autonomy

Getting the Right Members on the Team

Learning for All Adults in the System

Aligning School and District Goals and Priorities

Teacher Evaluation a Tool for Teacher Learning

Professional Development as the Fuel for the System

Expanding Professional Learning Across the District

Finding Time for Professional Learning

Securing the Future of Leaders and the Professional Staff

Key Points about the Role of the District Office

Putting Words in Action

Action Tool

Reflect and Assess


"I'm already thinking of how to incorporate what I've learned from the book into my practice and opening year staff professional development!"

Frank Chiki, Principal
Chamiza Elementary School, Albuquerque, NM

"This book takes the best of research-based theory and crafts it into practical application for the school leader. A necessary read for any school leader seeking to improve the quality of teacher instruction."

Patricia Conner, Curriculum Specialist
Berryville Public Schools, AR

"You Don’t Have to be Bad to Get Better presents a compelling argument for developing teacher evaluation systems that focus on professional growth rather than perpetuating a system of compliance. McKay had developed a user-friendly guide to thinking about and assessing current practice in an effort to move everyone’s practice forward. This text would be a valuable text for study by collaborative teacher and administrator groups who are interested in improving their professional practice."

Bernadette Cleland, Co-Founder
Teaching & Learning Solutions

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter Two

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781452240879