Mentoring Matters for Superintendents: February/March

Leadership-life Fit:

In spite of our best efforts to focus on a better leadership-life fit, we have moments in our day that increase our tension and add to our stress. Check out these six quick tips to reduce your tension in one minute! 

Leaders of Literacy:

For the love of literacy! The Aspen Institute, sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, has published open educational resources designed to meet the needs of districts in implementing the Common Core Standards. These professional learning modules provide facilitator guides as well as PowerPoints to support the professional learning of your district! I would recommend starting with this brief primer:

These modules support learning around 1) Text Complexity, 2) Close Reading and Text Dependent Questions, and 3) Designing Close Reading Instruction:

Organizational Health:

Are you looking to increase productivity and morale in your learning organization? Improve upon the health of your district by implementing Patrick Lencioni’s four key steps for building a healthy organization. An article, brief video and tools to support your work are available!

Questions for processing:

  1. How do you build trust within the leadership team and then throughout the organization?
  2. How have you addressed conflict? What does a spirit of debate look like in your district?
  3. What does accountability look like?
  4. How often and via what medium do you communicate your vision and mission and the focus of your work?
  5. How do you know if you’ve communicated sufficiently? 

See and hear Lencioni discuss the four key steps to a healthier organization in this video clip: 

Use the tools available via Lencioni’s website to assess your organization’s health and to increase the health of your system:

Effective Leadership:

When faced with many and varied decisions during the course of the day, it can be easy to fall into any of these 15 common cognitive traps. Take a moment to reflect on your thinking patterns when it comes to decision-making. Increasing your awareness of these biases in thinking and cognitive traps can result in the development of “new and more effective decision-making behaviors,” as presented in this article:

  1. Are you more susceptible to one of these traps more than others?
  2. How might you change your behavior in order to avoid the trap
  3. What experiences has your mentor had that can provide deeper insight and understanding as related to these cognitive traps?

March Monthly Checklist:

These lists are intended as a guide and are likely not all-inclusive! Process in your mentor-mentee team to identify other items that need to be addressed during these months. 


  • Board Items 
    • Approve budget for publication/formal budget presentation to Board
    • Possible approval of bargaining settlement
    • Superintendent’s evaluation
  • Set budget hearing for April
  • Continue to work through the budget process
  • Contracts may be issued (March 15) or later for teacher contracts (Chapter 279.13)
  • Maintain ongoing communication with legislators
  • Develop upcoming year’s school calendar
  • Review of Early Retirement Policies
  • Review potential personnel issues in regard to termination procedures
  • Weekly/regular communication/correspondence with Board
  • Prepare monthly board packet (include financial trend analysis data)
  • Schedule and hold administrative meeting/s (learning opportunity!!)
  • Attend to community relations
  • Follow up with principals re: teacher evaluation/staffing/reductions
  • Continue to plan for staffing for 2013-14
  • Possible hiring (advertising)
  • Communicate to my administrative team my expectations for attendance at and participation in graduation.
  • Plan and conduct SIAC Meeting
  • Registration materials for next year
  • Schedules/calendaring for next year (concerts, conferences, open houses, back to school nights, orientation meetings, registration meetings, registration)
  • Sharing agreements with neighboring districts (talks)
  • Plan for any handbook changes (meetings)
  • Iowa Assessment (communication of 2nd assessment scores)
  • Bargaining Process - Mediation
  • Transportation needs
  • Kindergarten Roundup

Follow up from last month…


  • Conduct mid-year review of goals & performance
  • Distribute budget handbook and building allocations
  • Approve curricular changes for upcoming year
  • Begin review of personnel requests for upcoming year
  • Review and update long-range capital projects plan/PPEL (to include technology)
  • Board Items:
    • Set fees (textbook rental, drivers education, etc.)
    • Approval of 2013-14 calendar
    • Tentative budget and enrollment figures