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Mentoring Matters for Middle Level and Secondary Principals: April 2019

Leadership-life Fit—Self-care for a Better Fit

Prioritize these three practices to enhance your leadership-life fit! 




Supporting Your Millennial Teachers 


Who are your millennial teachers and what kind of support do they want and need? This infographic provides a snapshot of their career development needs.   


Surfacing and Changing Bias-based Habits 


Whether we admit it or not, we all have biases. To help us change habits resulting from hidden biases, Diane Finnerty offers the following strategies from her book The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys. 


  • What are your motivations? Be clear about why you do what you do. 

  • Do you want to reduce your own bias? Be clear about why this important to you personally.  

  • Increase your self-awareness. Project Implicit at Harvard offers an Implicit Association Test. 

  • Understand your biases and educate yourself about bias (bias literacy). 

  • Create new thought patterns. 

  • Seek out disconfirmation of your biases—engage with those different from you; look for new opportunities to reframe your thinking. 

  • Audit your school and district for practices, policies and procedures that perpetuate bias.  

  • Take care of yourself. Bias is most activated when we are tired or overloaded. Self-care helps you to be mindful about your words, your behaviors, and your biases. 


Read the full article in which Finnerty is cited by Ali Michael with Marguerite W. Penick-Parks and Eddie Moore Jr. from the March/April NAESP Principal magazine. 


Addressing Teacher Performance Issues 


How do you respond to teacher performance issues? Where might you look to grow as an evaluator?  Pete Hall contrasts four approaches to responding to poor teacher performance with one preferred and productive style.   


Though we may bemoan the fact that not all teachers enter their classrooms and implement the high-effect size instructional strategies to which we’ve introduced them during our professional learning, we as building leaders have a responsibility to address the performance of a struggling teacher. Our students depend upon us to ensure a quality teacher in every room. 


Hall contrasts four ineffective approaches with a style that has impact (see article for descriptions). For greatest impact, he suggests: 

  • Establish a clear understanding of what high quality teaching and learning look like (rubrics are especially helpful here to show a progression). Use available resources (videos, classroom observations, etc.) to ensure the struggling teacher shares your vision for highly effective teaching.
  •  Give frequent, descriptive, and focused feedback. Visit the teacher’s classroom often and gather evidence of performance based upon the descriptors you noted in the rubric or through your clarification of expectations. Share your observations face-to-face, at least initially. Be sure to schedule visits and follow up chats, so you both protect that time.
  • Name any concern/s. Hall advises to use these words: "I have a concern with your performance." Be specific—use the rubrics and reference your conversation about expectations. Make sure the teacher understands that you will be holding him accountable for improvement and determine together what steps he is going to take to improve. A helpful go-to line is: Help me understand... (why you chose... your perspective... the difference between what we discussed in terms of expectations and what happened...). Listen!
  • Offer consistent support and resources. High expectations and support go hand-in-hand. Be sure you provide both!
  • Connect the teacher to resources. Be specific—whether it’s an article to read and process with a teacher leader during a designated time, or whether it’s an offer to hire a sub so the teacher can observe a classroom with an instructional coach. It’s the teacher’s responsibility to access and utilize the resources. Schedule specific check-ins to discuss progress and next steps as well as to answer any questions. Give the teacher time and space to improve.
  • Trust the process. Professional learning takes time (theory, demonstration, collaboration, practice, coaching), so you may need to repeat these steps of the intervention cycle. Of course, if no progress is made after an appropriate amount of time, you will need to work within your HR policies to release the teacher.  

To explore the four approaches and gain insight as to your own style, read the full article in Educational Leadership. 


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!