Mentoring Matters for Assistant/Associate Principals and Deans: April 2017

Leadership-life Fit: Organize Your Phone, Unhijack Your Mind

Did you know the more your phone buzzes and sends you notifications, the more you’re conditioned to release cortisol and stress?? Reclaim control by reorganizing your phone using these five tips.

Former Google design ethicist and Time Well Spent founder Tristan Harris explains how in this three-minute video: 

You can read more from Tristan here.

Leading Learning—The Evolving Role of the AP

How has the AP role evolved? Several assistant/associate principals share their perspectives on the dynamic, challenging role of the assistant/associate principalship and point to key behaviors for effective leadership.

The interviewees of this article note that most assistant/associate principals spend their time in three primary areas: classroom evaluation, discipline, and staff development (this is also supported by work from the Wallace Foundation).

Important to the role of the AP is the ability to listen, listen, listen. Often, the AP serves as a counselor not only to students, but to staff and parents as well. The interviewees note that though preparation programs can help the aspiring leader to develop protocols and processes that will support a culture of learning, they cannot fully prepare leaders for the human aspect of the profession. Teachers and students alike face daily challenges in their personal lives that cross the threshold with them when they enter the building.

Additionally, the AP needs to develop skill in distributed leadership. What responsibilities are you empowering teachers to lead? Knowing your own strengths and areas for growth provide a starting point in determining where you can invite leadership and support from others. Examples offered by the respondents include technology support and development—especially in 1:1 environments. They noted that not everyone is an expert in technology use and application.

These leaders also address the importance of work-life balance (they haven’t yet been introduced to the more fitting concept of leadership-life fit)!  They share five key reasons for entering administration:

  • Love kids
  • Be flexible
  • Be committed
  • Always understand that you need to continue to learn
  • Lead by example

Access their recommended reading list and the entire article here (membership required)

Leading Learning—Support Teachers in Differentiating with UDL

If you’re tasked with leading special education in your building and wondering how to accomplish the goal of differentiation, Universal Design for Learning may provide a fitting framework. Learn more from this summary of an article that appears in this month’s Educational Leadership magazine.

First, you might be interested in this 4 ½ minute overview of UDL:

UDL is anchored in the architectural concept of accessibility for all. The authors reference a ramp as a design that provides access for not only those in wheelchairs, but also people pushing strollers or making deliveries. The UDL model provides multiple means of

  • representation (content shown in a variety of ways)
  • action and expression (variety of ways for students to demonstrate learning)
  • engagement (multiple strategies for motivating students)

These seven steps can support educators in developing a UDL instructional blueprint:

1. Understand Students’ Learning Differences:

  • What are each student’s strengths:
    • academic?
    • behavioral
    • social?
  • What are each student’s challenges? preferences? interests?
  • What are each student’s cultural, linguistic, and experiential backgrounds?
  • Data Sources:
    • assessment
    • observation of interactions between and among students
    • student work
    • survey data
    • performance analysis

2. Identify Educational Goals and Learning Objectives (Iowa Core, IEP, 504, and local curriculum should guide this process)

3. Examine the Learning Environment

  • How can space be best utilized to support all learners both in individual, group, and partner work?
  • How are technologies leveraged?
  • What supports exist – associates? volunteers? certified staff?
  • How are students expected to interact with each other? collaborate?
  • What other environmental factors could enrich or detract from students’ learning experience?

4. Identify Barriers to Student Success

  • In reviewing data you’ve collected in Step 1, what factors do you see that might negatively impact students’ success?
  • What barriers might impact how content is delivered? (barriers related to academic language? to learning activities?)
  • What barriers might impact how students can demonstrate learning?
  • What barriers might impact student motivation and engagement?

5. Select UDL Solutions to Address Identified Barriers (Research-based instructional practices, accommodations, technologies, and policies that offer appropriate supports and challenges by focusing on the three key anchors of UDL: Representation, Action & Expression, and Engagement)

6. Ensure UDL Solutions are Implemented Effectively

  • When will the intervention/solution be utilized?
  • How often and for how long?
  • What will be indicators of successful implementation? What does effective implementation look like? sound like? feel like? What are the essential moves of the intervention/solution?
  • Who will be responsible for using it?
  • What resources (materials, technology, grouping, etc.)  will be needed?
  • What training and preparation will teachers need? Students?

7. Evaluate Efficacy and Fidelity of UDL Solutions

  • What classroom-based data will be collected to assess impact?
  • How will the data be collected?
  • When and how often will data be collected?
  • How will self-monitoring be incorporated?

The metaphor of educator as architect of student learning helps explain how the UDL framework can serve to support teachers in meeting the varied and individual needs of students.

Read the full article (subscription required)

Learn more

Monthly Checklist:

These lists are intended as a guide—we encourage you to process in your mentor-mentee team to identify other items that may need your attention!