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Mentoring Matters for Associate/Assistant Principals and Deans: May 2019

Leadership-life Fit—Attending to the Well-being of the Team 


A recent Gallup report reveals 44 percent of Americans feel burned out at work at least some of the time. Try these 3 strategies to win big over burnout! 



Thriving as an AP

As you reflect on your first year as an AP, you might consider this key strategy for thriving as you continue in your role! 


Develop authentic, trusting relationships. Practitioner Aaron Hogan offers these key areas to generate questions that lead to higher levels of trust (to see sample questions, read the full blog)


  1. Ask about family.
  2. Ask about professional interests.
  3. Ask for input before making decisions.
  4. Ask for critical feedback.


In your mentoring partnership, we encourage you to discuss additional questions and conversation starters that can support you in developing quality relationships with staff. Which relationships have flourished? Which might need more care and attention next year? Of the question categories above, which is your greatest point of leverage in connecting with this person or people? 


Revisiting the Principal - AP Relationship

Effective principal-AP collaboration can have powerful impact on building culture and student achievement. These strategies will help you work powerfully together. 


  • Ground yourselves in the same core values and create shared expectations. 

  • What do you both believe about student learning?  

  • What expectations do you have for staff based upon these beliefs? What does it look like, sound like, feel like when staff (and students) are meeting expectations?  

  • Communicate and model what you expect. 

  • How do you model your expectations and beliefs?  

  • When and with what frequency do you clarify for staff your expectations? 

  • Have standing meetings with each other to ensure you’re still on the same page, to share ideas, and to problem-solve together as needed. 

  • Commit to teacher observations and feedback. 

  • Ensure you’re both clear about what you expect to see when you visit classrooms and how you’ll respond to what you see so that you’re consistent. Spend time together on walk-throughs to establish a common frame of reference for quality teaching and learning. Discuss with each other how best to present feedback in any given situation. 

  • Recognize that feedback is best in a loop. Ask staff what they need from you in order to be successful.  

  • Be learners 

  • Attend and participate fully in professional learning (model your expectations). 

  • Partner with a teacher to implement a strategy or model teaching. 

  • Share new ideas. 

  • Cultivate a learning environment. 



In your mentoring partnership, discuss other ways in which you can develop an impactful relationship with your principal. 


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!