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Mentoring Matters for Superintendents: 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 three strategies to win big over burnout!


Keep on Communicating! 

This recent article in 
School Administrator highlights the significance of ongoing communication to effective superintendent-board relationships. Reflect on your own leadership this year in light of these four practices.


    1.     Get to know each board member.  

a.   How have you developed relationships with each board member this year?  

b.   What will you do moving forward to sustain these relationships? 

c.   What will you do differently when you bring new members to the board?

    2.     Communicate early and often. 

a.   When did you communicate early this year? What was the issue? How often did you revisit that issue via communication? What was the result? 

b.   What did you learn from early and frequent communication this year that will impact your practice moving into year two?

    3.     Go slow. 

a.   Where did you “go slow” this year? How did you plant seeds and build opportunities for the board to delve into information related to upcoming decisions well in advance of the actual decision? 

b.   Where will you need to “go slow” next year? What will that look like? What specifically will you do and when?

    4.     Prioritize communication. 

a.   What methods for communicating with the board have been successful for you this year and with what frequency did you communicate? 

b.   What, if anything, will you do differently next year?


Read the full article


Learning from First-Year Reflections – 4 Key Insights 


As the year comes to a close and you review your successes and “wish I had a do-overs,” you may find these four leadership strategies detailed in this article from AASA helpful as you move into your next year of leadership. The questions are intended for processing in your mentoring partnership.


 1.  Invest in your leadership team. A first-year superintendent assumed that his cabinet was a high functioning, effective team, but realized quickly, he needed to cultivate relationships and develop this group as a team. 

    a.  What specific leadership behaviors support relationship development?  

    b.   What goals do you have for your administrative team moving into the 2019-20 school year and how will you get there?

2.  Encourage openness and honesty. Because of the positional authority of the superintendent, many will refrain from offering constructive feedback or raising difficult questions. Consequently, the superintendent should actively solicit feedback. 

   a.    What feedback have you gathered this year and how have you gathered it? 

   b.    What feedback do you wish you would have collected? 

   c.    What have you learned from the feedback? 

   d.    In what ways will you change how you collect feedback moving into next school year?

3.  Be “in service of” rather than brilliant. Listen to others and be judicious about the opportunities you take advantage of putting your voice in the room. 

   a.    What ways do you have of monitoring how much you speak or contribute to discussion? 

   b.    How do you ensure every voice is heard?

4.  Build relational capital. Quality relationships move the leader’s vision and the work of the district forward. Be sure you devote time to building and sustaining authentic relationships with all   stakeholders in your district. See the full article

   a.    How have you built relationships throughout the district and community? 

   b.    With whom do you still need to develop a relationship? 


Need to Motivate Teachers to Come to Your District? 


Host a field trip! By partnering with teacher preparation programs, several rural Colorado districts have connected aspiring teachers to the benefits of living in their respective community and teaching in their district. 


Through a rural immersion program, students visit several rural districts. They spend time touring businesses and meeting staff and students in the schools. The purpose is to provide students with an introduction to both the school district and the community in advance of field experiences. School leaders can help dispel any myths or inaccurate mental models associated with teaching in a particular community or school as well as market the advantages. 


Regardless of the situation, the ideas of this article transfer well to any school or district. In your mentoring partnership you might reflect on the following: 

  1. How well do we connect aspiring teachers to our district AND community in advance of field experiences?
  2.  What might a field trip to our community look like?
  3. What connections do we already have to teacher preparation programs and how might we use these connections to advance promotion of our district?
  4.  With what other prep programs might we consider a partnership?

Read the full article


Building the Budget - Giving Students a Say


Looking for ways to teach civic participation and increase students’ sense of social responsibility? Giving students a voice in your budgeting process may be the answer!  


Several districts are engaging in Participatory Budgeting, a process through which monies are allocated to address a specific need. Students work in teams or individually to identify these needs in their schools, develop a solution, and campaign for support to stakeholders. Through a voting process, the winning project is determined. 


In a New York district, students researched and promoted projects like a greenhouse that would serve multiple purposes—raising food for those in need, providing community service hours, and protecting the environment. Other students created a project to transform a classroom into a multi-purpose studio that would allow for yoga and dance classes as well as create space for extracurriculars like cheerleading practice. Another group, after finding traces of lead in the water, proposed a filtered water fountain.  


As part of their project development, students connect with community members to gather input and feedback, wrestle with the challenge of civic engagement, and navigate the complexities of project development in general. Students explain that Participatory Budgeting has engaged them more in their community and increased the likelihood they will continue to be involved in other democratic processes.  


Read the full article in the April 12, 2019, edition of The Hechinger Report  


Learn more about the concept of Participatory Budgeting


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!