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Mentoring Matters for Superintendents: April 2018

Leadership-life Fit – Make Time for What Matters

Build and strengthen your time management skills with these ten time management hacks!

1. Make a to do list. Jotting down your tasks helps you focus and crossing off those you’ve completed gives you a psychological boost and is emotionally rewarding as well! If you don’t want to carry around a paper and pen, try these apps: Todoist, Remember the Milk, Wunderlist, or Google Keep. To organize your team’s (instructional leadership team, administrative team, for example) try Monday.

2. Use a calendar app and schedule your day. Consider blocking time for staff/faculty to schedule time to connect with you, evaluations you need to finish, data you want to review and reflect upon, communications you need to create and responses you need to provide, and other items that demand your time. Though you’ll experience interruptions, having specific time dedicated to the items on your to-do list will facilitate the accomplishment of those things.

3. Use the Time Tracker add-on to your Google Calendar and generate reports that help you see how you’re spending your time. Know if your allocation of time aligns to your priorities! (During this eight-minute video a principal explains how to do it).

4. Engage in a weekly review/audit. Clean the clutter from your desk, organize your computer desktop, and address emails hanging out there. Note where you’ve spent your time and what will demand your time in the upcoming week—eliminate non-essentials! Where might you hack time?

5. Create a staff/faculty Google Calendar so staff can enter their own events (after school math Olympiads, Homework Help Labs, team meetings, etc.).

6. Take Time Outs. Also known as the Pomodoro Technique, chunking your time into a 25-minute interval of concentrated focus on a task followed by a three- to five-minute break helps to maintain attention and then refresh your mind to engage in the next task. If you aren’t finished with a task after 25 minutes, return to it after your break, or shift to the next task on your list. Maintaining focus and concentration for a designated period of time can facilitate greater productivity.

7. Get up earlier. Starting your day before everyone else provides you that quiet time to set yourself up for the day-whatever your routine may be.

8. Exercise. Physical activity keeps your brain functioning well! So, the time you take to exercise is time you gain by being more fully present and more focused. Exercise also helps you to think more clearly, again saving time.

9. Set intentions. What outcomes do you want to achieve? How do you want your day to go? How do you want to feel? This template from Anese Cavanaugh, author of Contagious Culture, offers 5 steps to intentional impact (you’ll need to provide email to download Intentional Energetic Presence (IEP) Sheet).

10. Singletask (v. multitask). For most people multitasking actually reduces productivity. Follow the link to discover strategies to help you singletask more effectively.

Leading for the Future – Open Educational Resources (OERs)

With the vast number of free online resources available to educators, knowing how to determine the effective from the ineffective has become even more critical. This Hechinger Report spotlights how the state of Louisiana is making it easier for schools to identify and implement quality resources. Included are links to a number of OER sources that have been vetted and provide support for implementation. If you’re looking to save on curriculum resources, check it out!

How to sort the good from the bad in OER

Technology-minded Leader – Using Analytics to Monitor Impact

This month’s School Administrator offers tools and strategies for knowing who is reading your district Tweets and Facebook posts and when you capture the most viewers. Use the data to ensure you’re reaching your intended audiences.

Superintendent Chris Gaines, AASA president-elect describes how he questioned whether his stakeholders were seeing the district’s Tweets and Facebook posts. He wondered if the time and effort they were putting into communicating via social media was having any impact.

To answer his questions and to understand the mediums of communication that were most widely received and when, Chris began incorporating analytic tools. He then created a team which meets monthly to review the data they gather. The team was able to learn how best to target specific audiences and when. To learn more about the specific tools Chris is using and what he has learned, here's the complete article.

This blog does a fantastic job of explaining the basics of school analytics. It also provides a list of free tools as well as a list of paid tools.

Leading a Learning Organization

Do your schools share these seven characteristics of learning organizations? What leadership skills contribute to the most impactful learning organization and how are they developed? This recent article from The Learning Professional explains the what and the how of collaborative leadership.

Authors Lyn Sharratt and Beate Planche cite a recent OECD report listing the seven characteristics of learning organizations:

1. Develop a shared vision (student-centered focus)

2. Promote and support continuous professional learning for all staff

3. Promote team learning and collaboration among all staff

4. Establish a culture of inquiry, exploration, and innovation

5. Embed systems for collecting and exchanging knowledge and learning

6. Learn with and from the external environment and larger system

7. Model and grow learning leadership

The authors contend that educational leaders, both informal and formal, at all levels must be responsible for their own professional growth and development in order to support the growth of others and ultimately become a learning organization.

Skills needed for cultivation of impactful collaborative learning include the following:

·  Establish and implement norms and protocols for collaboration

·  Commit resources and time for reflection

·  Project a growth mindset by modeling a belief in the capacity of others to learn

·  Model responsibility and accountability for individual collective learning

·  Use learning protocols

·  Include all voices

·  State the WHY for collaborative work

·  Reinforce shared beliefs and understandings about student and staff success

·  Build consensus on what specific areas for collaborative learning stand out through the analysis of student data

·  Research high-impact practices

·  Determine clear learning intentions and their success criteria

·  Commit to an inquiry approach to collaborative work

·  Facilitate effectively: articulate a vision, listen, ask for help AND delegate, give AND take advice, clarify, seek to understand, let others take the lead once the work is launched, paraphrase, give credit, engage everyone, redirect, respond calmly to passion or frustration, and model and monitor.

To develop these skills, take advantage of opportunities to discuss case studies, take courses, and engage with other colleagues in reflection of practice.

Access the full article (subscription required).

Monthly calendar and 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!