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Mentoring Matters for Superintendents: May 2018

Leadership-life Fit –Rest to Work Less

Rest is essential to thinking and creativity, yet few of us do it well. The brain uses downtime to process problems, look for new information, and filter through solutions to challenges. When we rest better, we up-level our thinking, innovation and productivity—try these five strategies published in the Greater Good Magazine to help improve your rest!

1. Engage in an early morning routine. Creative energy is generally at its height first thing in the morning, so think about how you can leverage it. Working through a morning routine also helps set the day up for success. It creates space for you to choose your responses. Routines help conserve energy and contribute to rest for the brain when it doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel every morning. Then, you can give that energy to what really matters.

2. Take a walk. Research has confirmed the benefits of walking on creativity. It engages the brain in “lighter focus” and stimulates mind-wandering which can be beneficial to problem-solving and creative production later.

3. Take a nap. Though not perhaps realistic during the week; even a 20-minute power nap on the weekend can give your brain a chance to restore its energy.

4. Stop when you have energy left. It makes starting again easier when you already know your next steps.

5. Get your Z’s! Sleep lets our brains repair cells, remove toxins, process problems, renew our energy, gear up for performance, and set the stage for better decision-making, just to name a few benefits!

As evidenced by these strategies, rest is not the equivalent of laziness or do-nothingness; rather, it’s the key to greater energy and productivity.

Read the full article

Learning from First-Year Reflections – Four Key Insights

As the year comes to a close and you review your successes and “wish I had a do-overs,” you may find these four leadership strategies detailed in this article from AASA helpful as you move into your next year of leadership.

1. Invest in your leadership team. A first-year superintendent assumed that his cabinet was a high-functioning, effective team, but realized quickly, he needed to cultivate relationships and develop this group as a team.

2. Encourage openness and honesty. Because of the positional authority of the superintendent, many will refrain from offering constructive feedback or raising difficult questions. Consequently, the superintendent should actively solicit feedback.

3. Be “in service of” rather than brilliant. Listen to others and be judicious about the opportunities you take advantage of putting your voice in the room.

4. Build relational capital. Quality relationships move the leader’s vision and the work of the district forward. Be sure you devote time to building and sustaining authentic relationships with all stakeholders in your district. See the full article for a list of ways in which leaders can build relational capital.

Leading for the Future – Getting Ready for the Age of Automation

The Economist reports the results of the Automation Readiness Index—a comparison of countries on their preparedness for the age of intelligent automation. See where the U.S. falls and gain insight about the implications for school systems. What can you do to be ready?

Read a brief summary in the Hechinger Report

Read the full report

Leaders in Social Media – Four Tips

This month’s District Administration offers four strategies for leveraging social media to tell your district’s story. Check out the two-minute read.

Leading with PEAK Principles in Mind:

From “Most Likely to Succeed” to “What’s Actually Working in Classrooms” Ted Dintersmith reports on what he learned about the practices of teachers who have transformed learning. 

Having visited over 200 schools across 50 states, Dintersmith has identified four PEAK principles that lead to student engagement and success:

P – Purpose: Students engage when work is meaningful and relative.

E – Essentials: The most essential skills are not those measured by a standardized test: creative problem-solving, communication, critical analysis, collaboration, citizenship, and character.

A – Agency: Students own their learning—they set goals, they monitor progress, and they get curious about what they want to know.

K – Knowledge: Student master their learning through transferring it to new contexts and by teaching others.

Read the full article

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!