Mentoring Matters February-March 2016: Elementary Principals

Leadership-life Fit:

Dan Rockwell’s blog this week captures a powerful strategy for optimizing your leadership efforts—create rhythms of rest and reflection. Check out “Choose the White Room over the Padded Room.”

Managing Professional Capital —Hiring the Best

Be prepared for your best hiring season yet! We share several resources to help you maximize your hiring process.

The 20-minute Hiring Assessment - Getting the right fit in terms of personality is equally as important, if not more so, than finding the candidate with rich content knowledge and quality teaching skills. This article summarizes three key dispositions critical to effective and successful teaching:

  1. Disposition toward self - These teachers express empathy and are able to connect with students from diverse backgrounds. They have a sense of self-efficacy—an “I can do it” mindset.
  2. Disposition toward students- Teachers strong in this disposition have high expectations for all of their students and believe that all students can achieve at high levels. They care about all of their learners.
  3. Disposition toward teaching- Teachers with a disposition toward teaching see the big picture. They are people focused rather than thing or content focused. They focus on building quality relationships with their students and a have a service orientation.

To gain insight into a candidate’s strength in each of these dispositions, the author offers six interview questions:

  1. How would your students describe you to others? 
  2. Tell about a situation in which you helped a person or taught a significant lesson.
  3. Describe your perfect day. 
  4. What kinds of problems do people bring to you? 
  5. If your life works out the best you can imagine, what will you be doing in 5 years?
  6. How do you maintain balance in your life? What do you do for fun?

Access the full article to understand how to read between the lines of potential answers to each of these questions.

Hiring the Best – Author Mary Clement offers suggestions for gathering objective data through the hiring process starting with how to post your open position/s to how to structure the interview using behavior-based questions. She notes that clarifying what skills and dispositions are critical to the position will facilitate your decision-making.  

Still looking for more information about behavior-based interviewing? Additional resources from Mary Clement are available here.

Share your best hiring resources via Twitter using the hashtag #sai-hirebest

Leading Learning—What is Competency-Based Education?

Interested in creating more flexibility for your students? Striving to engage more students at higher levels? Looking for a more personalized approach to teaching and learning? These varied resources provide you a starting point for moving this conversation forward in your building.

iNACOL (International Association for K-12 Online Learning) is offering a free webinar intended to explain the “foundational tenets of competency education, explore school models that meet students where they are and share promising practices from leaders and practitioners pushing the next generation of teaching and learning.”

The U.S. Department of Education provides an overview and linked resources to competency-based education and personalized learning.

Iowa, through legislative action, supports a competency-based education collaborative. Find additional resources and connect with schools participating in the collaborative.

Personalized Learning Toolkit - use the free resources available with this toolkit to “personalize learning for all learners.”

Leading Learning—Ensuring your PLCs are Genuine, Not Lite

In this month’s Kappan article, DuFour and Reeves provide strategies and recommendations to ensure your PLC work is substantive and leading to school improvement.

The authors open the article describing the mindset and beliefs teachers functioning as a PLC must hold:

  1. They must believe in working in collaboration and collectively owning the responsibility for all students’ learning.
  2. They must believe in articulating the content, skills, and dispositions students need for each unit.
  3. They must believe in and frequently utilize common formative assessments developed by their PLC team and aligned to the curriculum.
  4. They must use the data they collect from the assessments to group students according to their levels of learning and instructional needs and respond accordingly and immediately.
  5. They must believe in and create a system of interventions that guarantee additional time and support (the core AND more—not the core OR more).

The authors go on to revisit the four questions that drive the work of a PLC; they recommend a protocol be used to keep educators’ attention focused on these questions:

  1. What should students know and be able to do?
  2. How will we know if they have learned it?
  3. What will we do if they have not learned it?
  4. How will we provide extended learning opportunities for students who have mastered the content?

For each of these questions, the authors provide detailed examples and non-examples of what true PLC work is.

Access the full article here.

Leading Learning – Debunk ELL Myths

An ESOL teacher tackles 10 typical myths about English language learners. Check out the top 10 and the truths about each here.

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!