Mentoring Matters for Superintendents: February

Leadership-life Fit:

The February 3 TIME Magazine cover story captured “The Mindful Revolution.” As mindfulness sweeps the nation as a means of reducing stress by quieting the mind and tuning in, check your excuses at the door and give these easy meditation exercises a try! You can gain additional insight with a Mindful magazine sampler of the articles that appeared in TIME.

Leading Learning with a Focus on Talent Development:

Do your teachers develop talent or select it? Thomas Guskey, grading guru, challenges the concept of class rank and advocates for a focus on talent development in his most recent article in the March issue of PhiDeltaKappan: Class Rank Weighs Down True Learning.

Then access the professional learning guide to help facilitate a deeper conversation with your high school principal and/or staff.

Principal Supervision as a Leverage in Improving Teaching and Learning:

Excellent article from Research for Better Teaching provides a concrete specific process for working with your principals to improve teaching and learning! Major areas of focus include 1) Engaging in classroom visits with your principals; 2) Observing PLC meetings with your principals; and 3) Working with your principal to coach his/her teacher leaders. Additionally, the article identifies specific questions and strategies for structuring professional learning for principals. Access it here.

Quick Synopsis: Supervising Principals: How Superintendents Can Improve Teaching and Learning in the Classroom by Jon Saphier and Pia Durkin

According to authors Saphier and Durkin, hiring and recruiting of principals is one of the most important responsibilities of the superintendent. Following that is the superintendent’s role in building the capacity of principals to support effective teaching and learning. Superintendents need to

  1. understand what principals do as instructional leaders;
  2. communicate clear expectations of how principals make instructional leadership happen;
  3. observe principals in action; and
  4. coach principals toward effective practices.

The authors focus on three areas and superintendent actions specific to each:

Principals’ Classroom Visits
Principals engage in cycle of classroom visits that include observation, data collection, questioning, productive conversation, and follow-up.

Superintendents set expectations for principals regarding classroom visits, data collection, and feedback. Superintendent accompanies principal on visits. (The article includes specific questions the superintendent can ask to set the purpose for and maximize the school visit).
Superintendents provide professional learning for principals that supports them in recognizing quality teaching and learning and coaching for improvement.

Supervision of Common Planning Time
Saphier and Durkin, by providing questions and a structure for working with PLCs, address how the superintendent can support the principal in leveraging PLCs.

Principal’s Partnership with Instructional Coaches (teacher leaders)

The article suggests several questions for the superintendent to pose to the principal regarding setting expectations for staff work with the teacher leader/instructional coach.
The authors provide a variety of suggestions for structuring monthly principal meetings.

Be sure to read the full article to see sample questions and other specific ideas for improving teaching and learning in your district!

February/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.