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Mentoring Matters for Elementary Principals: November 2017

Leadership-life Fit: Stop and Smell the Roses

Five simple strategies for taking time to re-center, re-group, and refresh each day so that you can always play your “A” game. 

Leadership 101: The 10 Pitfalls of Successful School Leadership

As you close out these first few months of school, take a moment to view your leadership from the balcony. Are you steering clear of those things that can undermine your success? A former Florida principal of the year, Dr. Allan Bonilla shares insights gained from his many years of experience (Corwin Connect).

1.     Low visibility.

2.     Office fixation.

3.     Lack of delegation. (This checklist can help you determine areas where you need to improve your delegation skills. More insight re: delegation here.)

4.     Programs over people.

5.     Dictatorial style.

6.     Lack of praise and acknowledgment.

7.     Criticizing and discouraging.

8.     Focusing on negatives.

9.     Failure to control mood.

10.   Failure to keep students first.

Read the full article

Leading Learning—Sharing the Load:

Feeling like you need to know it all, but a little anxious because you can’t possibly? Are your doubts undermining your confidence? Peter DeWitt discusses how leaders can grow in their self-efficacy and confidence by engaging actively in collaborative leadership and developing collective efficacy.

In his recent article in NAESP’s Principal magazine, DeWitt cites Robinson’s five most important aspects of leadership:

1. Establishing goals and expectations

2. Resourcing strategically

3. Ensuring quality teaching

4. Leading teacher learning and development

5. Ensuring an orderly and safe environment

Since having high self-confidence in each of these areas is difficult, principals should leverage collaboration to develop collective efficacy.

A Quick Note about Self-efficacy

Self-efficacy is believing you have the skills, knowledge, and disposition to craft a plan, enact that plan, and achieve a specific outcome. Without a strong sense of self-efficacy, people—doubting their ability to succeed or overcome adversity—give up or settle for less.

Ways to Build Self-efficacy (from the work of Albert Bandura)

1. Persist and succeed at a difficult task or challenging activity.

2. Observe and study how others navigate a challenge or issue—vicarious experiences. (Great opportunity to leverage your mentor!)

3. Solicit feedback—positive affirmation of performance increases confidence. (Again, your mentor can provide powerful feedback and insight!)

4. Strive for a quality leadership-life fit—your social and emotional well-being contribute to your self-efficacy.

In those areas where principals are less confident, they can leverage collaborative leadership (which develops collective efficacy) and play to their strengths (areas where they feel efficacious) and design around their weaknesses (areas where they are less confident). The job is too big for any one person alone!

Collaborative Leadership: intentional/purposeful actions leaders take to enhance instruction of teachers and build relationships with efficacy in mind to deepen learning together.

Collective Efficacy: a teacher’s belief that together they have an impact on student learning and achievement beyond any influences from the students’ environment and home.

Ways to Build Collaborative Leadership

1. Educate your staff around the concepts of self-efficacy, collaboration and collective efficacy.

2. Know the strengths of your staff.

3. Not only engage your staff in collaboration, but serve as an active participant and contributor. Be part of the team. Ensure everyone has a voice.

Learn more by reading the full article

Leading Learning—Engaging Students in Fostering Foundational Skills:

What is the role of the principal in building essential skills among elementary students? Epworth Elementary Principal, Dan Butler, shares his strategy for contributing to his students’ growth and development in this recently published article in NAESP Principal magazine.

Dan encourages principals to designate time monthly to visit classrooms to share a quality piece of literature illustrative of a critical formative skill like empathy, self-control, integrity, embracing diversity, or grit. By reading a book and facilitating a discussion or activity, the principal has opportunity to connect with students and staff alike, foster foundational skills, and nurture a culture that promotes life-long learning and a growth mindset.

Three books at the top of Dan’s list:

·      The Sneetches – great for teaching empathy

·      Why Am I Here? A Story about Becoming the Best Version of Yourself!

·      Wonder – addresses the importance of kindness, empathy, embracing diversity, and grit

Learn more about Dan’s story

Leadership 101: 7 Habits of Successful Principals

Habits are the rituals and behaviors we perform daily without much thought. According to researchers at Duke University, habits account for about 40 percent of our behaviors on any given day. What seven habits best serve principals?

Get the list at School Leaders Now, a new community for K-12 school administrators to share inspiring and engaging education advice, resources and tips.

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!