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Mentoring Matters for Middle Level and Secondary Principals: December 2016

Leadership-life Fit: Meditation Isn’t Just for Monks

A daily practice of focus and awareness can help you give the gift of your best self! Learn some quick and easy strategies to get started or to support you as you continue your meditation practice!

Leading Learning—Getting Parents Involved at the Secondary Level:

Is your New Year’s resolution to move beyond inviting parents to events and getting them engaged? (Engagement= greater student achievement and higher attendance and graduation rates, to name a few benefits)! These eight strategies help chart the path toward your goal!

Read the full text by Heather Wolpert-Gawron in her Edutopia article.

1. Engage Families in Their Elementary School First

Connect with parents before they land in your building by attending a PTO/PTA meeting at the elementary/ies that feed into your building.

2. Create a Parent Advocacy Group

Be sure your group includes representation from your most at-risk students. Inquire as to whether one of these representatives would host a principal coffee at their home to provide you an opportunity to connect and exchange information with more parents.

3. Take School Information on the Road

Meet families where they are. Provide parents an opportunity to meet you and your staff and learn about your school by asking if you might join them at one of their community or church events.

4. Utilize Your Local Businesses

Can you partner with businesses to use some bulletin/message board space to post celebrations of students and staff and to keep the community updated on school events and news?

5. Find Out What Your Families Need

At registration time, include a survey that asks parents how they want to be contacted or connected to the school and what concerns them.

6. Reach Out to Families Just to Build a Relationship

Strive to make the first call/text/message a positive one.

7. Provide Trainings

Ensure parents know how to use your website (and translation tools as applicable), your student management/grading system, and online pay systems by offering trainings. You can also provide training and support for accessing student resources, online databases provided through the AEAs, and other relevant tools and information that will help keep parents “in the know.”

8. Host an EdCamp for Parents

Engage staff and students alike in responding to the concerns of parents via a different approach like an un-conference. 

Leading Learning— Cultivating a Growth Mindset

Watch this eight and a half-minute video explaining the Why, What, and How of growth mindset, and then delve into the Growth Mindset Playbook! Process the reflective questions that follow in your mentoring partnership.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. We know that high expectations have a 1.44 effect size on student achievement, and we know that expectations include the belief by both student and teacher that the student can learn whatever standard is being addressed. How do you surface your teachers’ beliefs about students?
  2. When you notice incongruence between teachers’ behaviors and what they say they believe, how do you engage in conversation around that? For example, a teacher says she believes all children can learn at high levels, but then she consistently asks simpler questions of a particular student or settles for lower quality work from a certain student.
  3. Have you examined what you believe about your teachers’ ability to learn? How do you model and communicate a growth mindset with your teachers?
  4. What language shifts need to happen in your school to reinforce a growth mindset? (Example: Joe hasn’t learned that YET. What’s the next skill or content piece he needs to move toward the target? What does this mean for my instruction? OR Mr. Smith hasn’t implemented feedback YET. What does he need to do to begin moving toward our vision for effective feedback? What is my role in that?)
  5. What stories speak to the impact of a growth mindset in your building (or personally)?

Leading Learning: ESSA Toolkit

Just a reminder that this toolkit resource is available to help principals engage in informed conversations around ESSA!

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!