Mentoring Matters for Elementary Principals: November 2016

Leadership-life Fit: 3 Simple Remedies for a Stressed-out Mind

When you’re caught up in the “busyness” of life, try these three practices to help you de-stress and be present.

Watch the video

or see summary below!

  1. Slow down – Whether you’re talking, driving, walking, or typing… literally slow down. Your brain mimics your body—slowing your body slows your brain.
  2. Relax your body—notice where the tension is, and intentionally relax those muscles. Roll your shoulders. Let your arms fall to your sides.
  3. Attend to a simple task. If you’re eating, focus on each bite. If you’re wiping the counter, focus on that.

Full text available here

Leadership 101: The 10 Pitfalls of Successful School Leadership

As you close out these first three months of school, take a moment to view your leadership from the balcony. Are you steering clear of those things that can undermine your success? A former Florida principal of the year, Dr. Allan Bonilla shares insights gained from his many years of experience (Corwin Connect).

  1. Low visibility.
  2. Office fixation.
  3. Lack of delegation. (This checklist can help you determine areas where you need to improve your delegation skills. More insight re: delegation here.
  4. Programs over people.
  5. Dictatorial style.
  6. Lack of praise and acknowledgment.
  7. Criticizing and discouraging.
  8. Focusing on negatives.
  9. Failure to control mood.
  10. Failure to keep students first.

Read the full article.

Leading Learning— Strategies for Managing Change

You have probably noticed that your staff respond differently to new initiatives and transformative change. McREL CEO, Bryan Goodwin, discusses how by deepening our understanding of thinking preferences and knowing those of our staff, we can more readily prepare for and implement complex change.

Whether you choose the DISC profile (or a similar, yet free version here), the Gallup strengths finder, or some other thinking preferences assessment (DIRT profile), knowing the thinking preferences of your staff can help you to differentiate your leadership to support more effectively those who perceive and experience change differently from you.

Goodwin connects four thinking preferences (thinkers/doers/energizers/connectors) to four leadership behaviors that tend to suffer when schools undergo complex change (input/order/communication/culture).

1.Analytical, logical thinkers need to…

  • be convinced of need for change
  • understand rationale for change
  • have opportunity for input and participation in decision-making

2.Sequential, action-oriented doers need to…

  • understand exactly what the change will require of them
  • feel confident that they have the skills and knowledge to do what's being asked of them
  • have routines and order

3.Imaginative, big-picture energizers need to…

  • understand the direction of the change
  • align the change to their ideals
  • engage in ongoing dialogue to assure shared vision among stakeholders

4.Interpersonal, social-oriented connectors need to…

  • preserve group norms
  • be assured of group cohesion and well-being

Goodwin notes that leaders need to address all thinking preferences when leading change. He suggests focusing on William Bridges four Ps for managing change:

Purpose: Why are we doing this? What problem are we solving? What are we trying to accomplish? People often need to understand the logic of a change before they can change.

Picture: What is the end game? How is it going to work? What is changing and what isn’t? People often need to imagine what the change will look like before they can give their hearts to it.

Plan: What is the road map for getting to where we need to go? What is going to happen over the next X months? What happens first, second, third? People need a clear idea of how they are going to get to where they need to go.

Part: What is my role? How will I be involved? Do I have an opportunity for input into the plan? When will I be trained? People need a tangible way to contribute.

Delve more deeply by reading the full article.

Leading Learning—Supporting Social and Emotional Learning

Do your students respond appropriately in emotionally charged situations? Do they know how to self-regulate? Are your students empathetic and do they understand how to make responsible decisions? These social and emotional skills form the foundation of effective citizenship. How do we promote social and emotional development in our schools? Find out more from this recent article in Principal.

In order to be successful, students need a safe, supportive, and positive learning environment. They need to master academic standards and expectations as well as learn to navigate social and emotional expectations for behavior. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) defines social and emotional learning (SEL) as “the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”

Why SEL? Programs targeting SEL have produced improvements in standardized tests by an average of 11 percentile points for those students who received the programming compared with those who did not. Furthermore, SEL fosters skills sought by employers: grit, problem-solving, communication, and teamwork.

These five behavioral competencies identified by CASEL form the foundation of SEL:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-management
  3. Social awareness
  4. Relationship skills
  5. Responsible decision-making

Classroom Practices that Promote SEL:

  1. Independent lessons including explicit instruction focused on the social and emotional competencies;
  2. Daily practices that integrate and support social/emotional development in students (e.g. morning meetings, co-developed classroom expectations, other routines); and
  3. Integration of practices that support SEL within the content areas (project-based learning, opportunities for collaboration).

Principal Practices that Promote SEL:

  1. Communicate SEL as part of the school’s vision and mission.
  2. Facilitate/Provide professional learning and coaching targeting SEL.
  3. Learn SEL programs and practices alongside teachers.
  4. Conduct a needs assessment to identify and address gaps in resources/programming that supports SEL.
  5. Build a positive school climate—model expectations for behavior.
  6. Implement an evidenced-based SEL program.
  7. Create opportunities for staff and all members of the school community to develop social and emotional competence themselves.
  8. Partner with families and the community.

A variety of curricula are available to support the implementation of SEL. CASEL reviews a wide range of such resources.

Learn more:

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! 

Join the National Panel of New Principals

One of SAI's national affiliates – NAESP – has an opportunity for you, as a first- or second-year principal, to serve as a panelist on a National Panel of New Principals. The panel includes nearly 700 first- and second-year principals from all 50 states, who participate in four to six brief, topical online surveys during the school year. The time commitment is small—a total of less than one hour per year. The results are published in a Rise & Shine brief. Learn more at The panel is open to all new principals—NAESP members and non-members alike.