Mentoring Matters December 2015: Elementary Principals

Leadership-life Fit:

Pay your sleep debt! Seize the Z’s to improve your leadership-life fit! More sleep=more creativity, better decision-making, more empathy, and better overall health!

Leading Learning—Support Your Team in a Cycle of Continuous Improvement

At the center of collaborative learning is a cycle of continuous improvement, detailed and supported in the Iowa Professional Development Model. This resource from Learning Forward (subscription required) takes the concept of the IPDM and adapts it for a learning team/PLC.

A 5-stage Process for Continuous Learning

As teams begin, they will want to keep in mind the school and/or district’s plan for school improvement. What is the vision for improvement and what learning challenge, if addressed, will provide the greatest leverage in moving us closer to our vision?

Stage 1: Examine the Data (Week 1 Meeting)

What do our students need to know and be able to do?       
What data provide the answer to how well our students are meeting the defined outcomes as of today?

Learning teams in this stage engage in data analysis to narrow the focus for their work. For example, the team may move from a “diagnosis” of a reading comprehension issue to challenges with inferencing, in particular.

Stage 2: Set Goals (Week 2 Meeting)

What do students need to learn in order to achieve our outcomes, our vision?
What do we as teachers and leaders need to learn in order to achieve our outcomes?

Perhaps the data analysis has revealed a gap among subgroups as related to inferencing proficiency. At this stage, the team will want to be clear about what learning goals will help to address the identified need (both for students and teachers).

Stage 3: Learn!! (Weeks 3 and 4)

What learning process will move as adults toward our goal?
What learning process will move our students toward our goal?

Teachers at this stage decide how they will cultivate their content knowledge and skill in order to achieve the goal. Perhaps an individual teacher needs more knowledge about text levels and seeks to study Lexiles. Maybe the team recognizes a collaborative need for high leverage/high impact instructional strategies that support students’ development in inferencing. The individual might choose to engage in a book study while the team looks to an instructional coach for ideas and support.

Stage 4: Apply (Week 5)

What will change in our practice as a result of our learning?

As teachers implement new strategies, they will benefit from feedback and coaching.

Stage 5: Adjust and Refine (Week 6)

In the words of John Hattie: Know thy impact. Teams at this stage answer the question: What has been our impact?

Formative and summative assessments aligned to the outcomes help teachers determine progress toward these outcomes. Teachers study student work and draw conclusions about growth based upon the evidence they have collected. As they analyze and process, they may make adjustments or engage in additional learning.

As teachers master new strategies and content and student learning increases, then the cycle begins again.

This freely available template is intended to help teams identify their growth as a team in light of 10 indicators of successful teams.

Questions for Reflection

  1. What processes, protocols, and/or tools support your PLCs in engaging in a cycle of continuous improvement?
  2. How do you as the school leader allocate resources such as time, teachers, support staff, and money to support a cycle of continuous improvement?
  3. What data and data analysis tools are available to teachers?
  4. How do you as principal engage in a learning cycle with your leadership team?
  5. How do you “know your impact” in terms of your cycle of continuous improvement?

Leading Learning—Engaging Our Families

Experienced administrator and author of Engage Every Family: Five Simple Principles (2015), Steve Constantino shares a multitude of tools and strategies to connect our families to our schools. From a survey tool to gauge our current levels of engagement to ideas to promote caring, this list will move you quickly to action!

  • Asset Map Possible Components Chart
  • Action Step Chart (Blank)
  • Goal Setting Template (Blank)
  • Community Asset Mapping Made Simple (Directions)
  • Design Thinking Chart
  • Directions for Survey
  • Event Location Chart
  • Fill-in Policy Component Chart
  • Ideas to Promote Caring to Families
  • Policy Chart
  • Present Perception of Culture Chart
  • Procedures and Practices Chart
  • Student Highest Performance Chart
  • Student Lowest Performance Chart
  • Survey Score Calculation
  • The Five Simple Principles Further Defined
  • "We Already Tried That" Quick Tip and the Accompanying Chart
  • Welcoming Environment Chart

Access the website and then click ‘Download All Resources’.

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!