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Mentoring Matters for Middle Level and Secondary Principals: 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

Leadership Impact—Your Leadership Identity, Mission, Purpose, and Vision

Is your school a better school because you lead it? Baruti Kafele delves into this question by breaking it down into a variety of reflective questions to help you gain clarity and insight into your impact as a leader—a great way to assess this school year and gear up for next! Working through these questions and the article in your mentoring partnership would be a powerful way to collaborate around strategies for increasing your effectiveness.

In an article in Educational Leadership, Kafele challenges us to think about our leadership identity, mission, purpose and vision:

What is your identity?
What does your presence mean in the eyes of your students, staff, parents, and the community?
When your students and staff see or think of you, what comes to mind?
Does your leadership identity affect the climate, culture, and achievement in your school?
Is how you see yourself consistent with how others view you?

What is your mission (your what—what is your work about)?
With all that is on your plate, what's the one thing you feel you must absolutely accomplish?
What drives you above all else and keeps you up at night?
What is your leadership mission?

What is your purpose (your why—why do you do it)?
Why specifically do you do this work?
Why did you make the decision to lead a school?

What do you value and are you living in alignment with your values? (Your response to these questions helps surface values)
What brings you joy?
How do you spend your time?
With whom do you spend your time?
How do you spend your money?

What is your vision for leadership and for your school?
As a leader, how will your skills evolve?
How will you improve and become more effective as a leader one year from today?
What will this improvement look like?
Where will your school be in five years as a result of your direction?
To what heights will it rise because you are at the helm?
In what way will it distinguish itself from other schools?

Are you having the impact you want to have? How do you know?

Leading Learning – Supporting Teachers’ Cultural Competence

As school populations become increasingly diverse, the principal’s role in defining and articulating cultural competence becomes even more critical. In this recent article in NAESP’s Principal magazine, learn the three key elements defining cultural competence and access strategies for building the competence in your building.

Three elements comprising a definition of cultural competence include
1) rich understanding of your own culture—beliefs, biases, mental models;
2) knowledge of the cultures represented by your students; and
3) implementation of strategies that reflect cultural understanding and serve to move all students toward high achievement.

Strategies that support a culturally competent school:
· Meet with leaders (both formally and informally recognized) within the cultural communities represented by your students—preferably on their “turf.”
· Host events at the school to engage families and focus on the families and their needs.
· Hold expectations for teachers to learn about the cultures of their students.
· Engage teachers in meeting with leaders representing the cultural communities.
· Encourage teachers to visit students’ homes if appropriate (e.g. several Iowa schools make time for kindergarten teachers to visit the homes of their students to begin to develop that home-school relationship).
· Encourage teachers to engage with their students’ communities (e.g. cultural events, celebrations, etc.).
· Confront teacher/staff biases and limiting beliefs that negatively impact a group.
· Conduct an audit of policies, practices, assessments, plans, expectations, and other data sources looking for how any of these may unintentionally favor one culture and/or create barriers for another culture or group.

In your mentoring partnership, discuss your respective leadership in the area of cultural competency and equity.
· How do each of you engage families in your school?
· How do you ensure all students and all families feel valued and important?
· How do you support teachers in understanding their students’ cultures? Why is that important?
· How do you model cultural competence?

Dig deeper by accessing 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!