Mentoring Matters for Middle Level and Secondary Principals: December

In addition to supporting your day-to-day leading and learning, the following resources are intended to serve as a springboard to conversation between mentor and new administrator. We encourage you to meet face-to-face, Skype, Blog, Google Hangout, email, Tweet, or in some other way connect to process the resources that are most relevant to your circumstances!

Leadership-life Fit:

Are you addicted to “busyness”? Learn how to let go of “busyness” to attain a better leadership-life fit.

Leading Learning:

What does it take to create and sustain a high-performance culture? Amid ubiquitous news of one school after another “failing” according to NCLB standards, you have likely encountered a few stories celebrating the success of schools in spite of significant challenges. You may have asked yourself, “What is it that the leaders of these high-performance schools are doing?” In her article “Cracking the Leadership Code for High Performance” Cathy Lassiter unveils the three “secrets” to high-performance leadership: 

  1. Keep the mission and vision of your school/district in the forefront of staff, students, parents, and other community stakeholders.
  2. Be a positive deviant—be aware of and focus on the successful exceptions. Consider outliers and cultivate skepticism about the status quo. What “outside the norm” behavior/s are working well in your school?
  3. Embrace the power of collaboration and cooperation.

Access the article and engage your mentor in conversation around the following discussion questions:

  • How might your mission and purpose serve as a leverage for school improvement? What ideas do you both have for keeping the mission/vision at the forefront?
  • What “outside the norm” behaviors that are increasing student achievement have you observed? What individual teacher practices in your building should be replicated by other teachers in the building? How might you support this learning?
  • What does collaboration look like in your building? What insights regarding structuring for collaboration does your mentor suggest? How do the staff in your building cooperate? If people hold back because of perceived hierarchy of roles and responsibilities, how might you move toward a more cooperative culture? What can you learn from your mentor about cooperation?

Coaching Conversations: Building Teachers’ Self-efficacy

This first chapter from Opening the Door to Coaching Conversations by Linda Gross-Cheliotes and Marceta Fleming-Reilly provides an effective structure for engaging teachers in critical conversations regarding impactful teaching and learning. The examples include conversations between teachers as well as between a teacher and supervisor.

Key skills of the coaching conversation:

  • Listen with commitment.
    • Focus on the other person.
    • Invite reflection and dialogue.
    • Be nonjudgmental.
    • Include times of silence.
    • Avoid advice-giving.
  • Paraphrase what the other person says.
  • Presume positive intent and utilize powerful, open-ended questions.
  • Communicate using reflective feedback.
    • Clarify for understanding.
    • Express the value or value potential of an idea or behavior.
    • Pose reflective questions or possibilities.

The “Your Learning” section at the end of the chapter would be a great opportunity for dialogue with your mentor! 

Legal Vortex:

We want your questions and concerns!! Please access the following website and double click to add a “post-it” note with the question/topics you would like to see addressed in January. Please post your requests by January 4, 2013.

  • Principals post here
  • Assistant/associate principals and deans post here

Inspiration from the Field:

Check out these two journal entries from a new principal—one at the start of her journey into the principalship and the second at the conclusion of her principal preparation program. Lead inspired!

December/January Monthly Checklist:  

  • Continue second round of teacher evaluations.
  • Calibrate evaluation ratings with peers, if possible and applicable.
  • Remind teachers of end of term expectations, if applicable.
  • Do mid-year check on requisitions for supplies or instructional supports, budget proposals, staffing proposals, etc.
  • Begin thinking about course offerings, scheduling, staffing for 2013-14.
  • Prepare for fall 2013 enrollment events: Registration meetings, transition meetings (both special education and regular education students coming to your building from another), parent information meetings
  • Organize coverage of building during winter break. Notify district office of emergency phone numbers if you are traveling out of town.
  • Stay on schedule with observations and walk-throughs.
  • Reflect on progress to date on annual school improvement goals and revise your building professional development plan in light of internal data as necessary.
  • Reflect on your individual career development plan and note indicators of progress and success—share with your mentor!!
  • Organize as applicable any student recognition events, teacher appreciation events, and holiday celebrations.
  • Set specific performance goals with classified staff based upon last round of evaluations.
  • If these are months for Iowa Assessments, prepare testing announcement, schedule and at-home preparation tips to be mailed/posted on web for parents. Communicate with teachers regarding acceptable preparation activities. Recall that although familiarizing students with the format of the assessment can be valuable, no correlations exists between the use of instructional time to “study” or “review” for standardized tests and increased test scores. In fact, time spent in review or preparation is time lost in learning the Core.
  • Update staff on any necessary district communications.
  • Prepare for end of semester reporting period.
  • Continue to review lesson plans and monitor the implementation of  district/building programs and professional development. See the Technical Guide to the Iowa Professional Development Model.
  • Check off and celebrate your successes!