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Mentoring Matters for Elementary Principals: November

Leadership-life Fit:

Amid all of the “doing” of leadership, see how a focus on “being” or “mindfulness” can help us to be more effective and less stressed.

Additionally, check out this video interview with Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence and Primal Leadership, in which he discusses Focus, his new book about attention—mindfulness.

Supporting Teacher Learning:

In this article in Principal Leadership, Deb Gribskov (instructional coach from WA) explains how she couples the use of video with critical reflection, meaningful comparison, and productive discussion to support teachers in implementing the Common Core in math. Each of these three processes, when integrated, result in improved instructional practice. 
   Critical Reflection: By watching a video multiple times, viewers are able to target a specific strategy, approach, or tool. For example, if a district is focused on increased student engagement in discussion, educators could view a video of a skilled teacher facilitating a discussion. They may note the types of questions asked during one viewing, the wait time and response techniques during a second, and strategies to involve everyone in a third.
   Meaningful Comparison: According to research, comparing one’s own teaching with that of others can improve practice in three areas in particular: learning new strategies/approaches, increasing content knowledge, and learning new classroom management techniques. Videos can facilitate such comparisons. When teachers, in collaboration with a coach or colleague (or principal) view a skilled practitioner and then compare their own practice with what they observe, they are better able to identify strengths and targets for improvement. 
   Productive Discussion: Viewing a video together provides for a shared learning opportunity. Because each viewer brings a unique perspective to the video, a variety of diverse observations can be surfaced from which the team can learn and grow through productive discussion.
   In applying these processes to the Core, Gribskov emphasizes the importance of beginning with clearly articulated outcomes for the learning. For example, one goal might be for teachers to understand the mathematical practice. Therefore, before the first viewing the facilitator might pose questions asking participants to be prepared to identify mathematical practices they see and the teaching strategies used to support the practice. After viewing, participants would engage in critical reflection and productive discussion in both small groups and whole group to activate deeper understanding around the mathematical practice.
   During a second viewing, viewers might focus more specifically on the teacher’s instructional moves and engage in critical reflection and productive discussion to compare the tools and strategies they observe the teacher in the video using with the techniques and tools they use in their own classrooms. As part of the discussion, teachers share additional strategies and tools they have used and are then encouraged to try these new strategies/tools in their own practice—another goal for the professional learning.
   In addition to setting clear outcomes for professional learning, selecting a fitting video can be challenging. Gribskov offers four criteria to guide this decision:

  1. Does the video show rather than tell?
  2. Does the video allow teachers to hear and see what the students are doing?
  3. Does the video provide insight as to why the teacher chooses the technique/strategy/tool he/she does?
  4. Are additional resources available that provide context for the video?

Video as the focus for reflection, discussion, and comparison provides an effective option for improving practice.

Access the full text here.

Gribskov, D. (November 2013). Video professional development. Principal Leadership, 14(3), 27-30.

Navigating Negativity:

Are you dealing with a “helpful complainer” or a “malcontent complainer”? View this slideshare to understand the difference and identify strategies for navigating negativity in your building.

November/December 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.