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Mentoring Matters for Middle Level and Secondary Principals: April 2018

Leadership-life Fit – Make Time for What Matters

Build and strengthen your time management skills with these 10 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 five steps to intentional impact (you’ll need to provide email to download Intentional Energetic Presence 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 a Data Culture

How well is the use of data integrated into your building processes? Do your routines and norms embed data use such that “it’s what staff do when no one is watching?” If you’re looking to strengthen your data culture, these practices and tools can help.

1. Talk about data as a tool for growth (not blame) and be sure you’re walking the talk (and talk often).

2. Ensure you have a system that supports you in generating reader/user-friendly visuals of student performance aggregated and disaggregated in ways that enable appropriate response (systemic or building) and includes an early warning system that facilitates early identification of students who need more support.

3. Create structures and schedules (PLCs, data teams, coaching cycles) and expect the use of protocols, processes, and other tools that fit into the established structures and schedules (review of student work protocols, consultancy protocols, etc. (see School Reform Initiative for other examples) so that data use is part of the day-to-day focus and work. (Data Days can be beneficial, and a true data culture is marked by the ongoing, frequent use of data to inform teaching and learning.)

4. Conduct an audit. Are you seeing what you want to see in terms of use of data in the classroom? In PLC meetings? In faculty meetings? Instructional Leadership Team meetings? Administrative team meetings? What tools (e.g. standing agenda item) and norms might you add to move closer to the desired data culture?

Read the full article, “Creating a Culture of Data: Keys to Making the Shift and Making it Stick”, by Peter Bencivenga on the Getting Smart site.

Leading for Collaboration

Use this rubric with your teacher teams to gain clarity around next steps in maximizing their collaborative conversations. Impactful collaboration is a key in building collective efficacy (teachers’ belief that together they have the ability to impact student learning and achievement), and collective efficacy is among the highest influences on student achievement (effect size 1.57).

Linked within the rubric is this protocol to focus teachers’ effort to analyze student work. It cuts across all content areas and supports teachers in connecting their instructional efforts with student performance, a key in building efficacy.

Also linked is an article by previous SAI Conference Thought Leader Ken Williams regarding the importance of establishing norms or agreements.

Leader of Teacher Leaders

Equip your leadership team with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions essential to advocating for and implementing quality instruction at your school. The Wallace Foundation in collaboration with NAESP/NASSP has created a Leadership Team Dashboard to support you in enacting your vision of academic success for all students. The dashboard includes links to a variety of tools and resources from practices that support building a leadership team to sustaining strong teams.

(Disclaimer: Not all of the resources may resonate, and a couple of the links were not functioning correctly. Most of these tools, however, may have at least some value!)

See a brief overview of The Wallace Foundation Dashboard

Access The Wallace Foundation Dashboard

Leading with Mental Health in Mind: 5 Strategies for Developing a Mental Health Model in School

Many of today’s students have experienced some form of trauma or chronic stress that often creates a barrier to their learning and achievement. By aligning mental health supports with academic achievement goals, schools can provide students the supports they need to attain success. These five components are key.

1. Create mental health programming based on data. Consider multiple sources of data (attendance, standardized tests, grades, classroom-based assessments). Look first at achievement data and note discrepancies and possible barriers. What do the data suggest about what students need? Engage stakeholders (school counselors, school nurse, mental health providers/therapists, teachers, administrators, parents, and students) to set measurable goals to address the need.

2. Collaborate to address the mental health needs of students. Tap into the resources available to the school – think school counselors, nurses, school psychologists (AEA resources), and other community (and beyond) supports.

3. Provide a tiered system of mental health support. The first tier includes implementation of a social/emotional curriculum as a preventative measure. Trauma-informed classroom approaches fit into Tier 1 as well. Tiers 2 and 3 include support from specialized personnel based upon the student’s or groups of students’ needs.

4. Evaluate mental health services to ensure they are addressing the academic achievement gaps. Analyze and review the goals established under the first component.

5. Communicate the outcomes to key stakeholders. Help your school community understand the connection between mental health and achievement.

To delve more deeply into each of the components and gain additional ideas and insights, access 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!