Print Page | Contact Us | Sign In | Join
Mentoring Matters for Elementary Principals: December 2019

Leadership-life Fit: Maximize your Morning

Morning routines set the stage for you to get more of what you want out of your day. This one-minute video adapted from the work of Benjamin Hardy promotes eight things before 8 a.m. to propel you toward your goals.



Creating Opportunities for Collective Efficacy 

What can you do to build collective efficacy among your teachers? Leading educational consultant Steve Barkley discusses the role of the principal in creating opportunities for collective efficacy to develop.


In this four-minute read, Barkley discusses two examples of how leadership can create opportunities for teachers to learn together, be vulnerable, and grow in their shared accountability for student learning.  


Tending to Compassion Fatigue


Once a term associated with first responders, compassion fatigue has become a concern among all those on the front line serving the needs of traumatized individuals—teachers and principals included. What is compassion fatigue? How do I recognize it, and what do I do in response?  


What is compassion fatigue? 

Compassion fatigue is the negative impact over time on caregivers (teachers and principals) who serve the needs of traumatized students (and staff). School staff hear many heart-wrenching stories of student experiences—oftentimes from the same student who has had multiple traumatic experiences.  


How do I recognize it? 

Symptoms can include a shift to a negative attitude, attributable to the feelings of frustration and hopelessness at the plight of some of these students of trauma; over-identification with those for whom one is caring; forsaking self-care in favor of care of others; and other symptoms of chronic stress like exhaustion, sleeplessness, low energy, and frequent colds and illness. Additionally, educators may be “burned out” and emotionally unavailable, not present. They may have a lower tolerance for frustration and an aversion to working with certain students, all of which pose a risk to their personal well-being and their job performance. (See NAESP’s Principal magazine this month – subscription required). 


What do I do about it?

As with many problems, the first step toward addressing compassion fatigue is an awareness of the stress and its impact. Once you recognize you or your teachers and other staff may be suffering compassion fatigue, you can take strides to heal. This recognition may result from conversations you have with staff about how they are doing about how they’re handling the emotion associated with a particular student’s or students’ situation/s. Awareness is the key. You can still care for your students and your staff while re-directing some of your energy back toward your self 


Strategies that help heal compassion fatigue include… 

  • regular exercise and/or movement 

  • healthy eating habits 

  • sufficient and restful sleep 

  • social activities with family and friends 

  • journaling 

  • getting out and experiencing nature (not always ideal in Iowa in the winter) 

  • healthy escapes and hobbies 

  • reflecting on purpose – what renews you and gives you hope  


As leaders, we attend to the well-being of all those whom we serve; and to show up our best, we must first take care of ourselves. When we are healthy, resilient, and present, we are better able to see what our staff needs and help them to take care of themselves so that they can be healthy, resilient, and present for their students.  


For discussion in your mentoring partnership: 

  • What indicators, if any, have you seen of compassion fatigue in your building? 

  • How have you responded to concerns about “burnout”? 

  • How do you promote self-care in your building?

  • In general, how do you support the health and well-being of staff? 


The First 100 Days as a First-year Principal


This new principal shares four key learnings from her first 100 days on the job. 

  1. Know your staff.

  2. Be present. (Check out this video to develop better presence)

  3. Accept there is never enough time.

  4. Engage with your mentor! 


Read the full article (two-minute read)


How Can your PLCs Promote Equity?


Five questions prompt collaborative teams to engage in dialogue focused on ensuring all students have access and opportunity to high quality, engaging teaching and learning. 


Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey, and John Almarode in The Learning Professional explain how teacher teams can view their work through an equity lens by incorporating five questions: 

  1. Where are we going?
    • Do lesson expectations align to grade level expectations such that students will be prepared for the next level of learning at the end of the school year?
    • Does everyone understand that the expectations apply to all students?
    • What barriers might inhibit learning for any of our students? How can we remove them? 
  2. Where are we now?
    • What gaps exist and for which students?  
    • How do we fill those gaps through our instruction?
  3. How do we fill those gaps through our instruction?
    • What specific instructional practices will address the learning needs of our students? 
    • What strategies are of the highest leverage in connecting students with the content and skills they need to learn? 
    • Does the lesson we are designing honor the diversity in our classrooms?
    • Which students may need more of our time and attention with this lesson? 
  4. What did we learn today?
    • What did we learn about our students’ learning?
    • What did our formative assessments tell us? 
    • What shifts will we make as a result of what we have learned? 
    • What did our students learn today? How do we know? 
  5. Who benefited and who did not benefit?
    • Which individual students achieved the learning outcomes? 
    • Which did not?  
    • Is there a subgroup represented by these students for whom we need to make instructional adjustments? 
    • What barriers may have inhibited the learning?
    • How can we remove them? 

Taking note of how individual students are learning as well as groups of students can support teachers in being more responsive to student learning needs.  


Access the full article 

Additional equity-related resources


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!