Print Page | Contact Us | Sign In | Join
Mentoring Matters for Middle Level and Secondary Principals: November 2018

Leadership-life Fit: 7 Tips on Rest and Rejuvenation

These first few months as you develop new relationships, learn “how things are done here,” and enact a few plans of your own, you may struggle to have a comfortable leadership-life fit. Focusing on your weekly routine can make all the difference—which one of these 7 habits will fuel your energy tank?

Listen to the podcast or read the article

Assessment Leadership: Modeling Assessment Literacy

Quality assessment practices lead to quality, informed decisions, which in turn support high levels of learning for both students and adults. These seven strategies support the principal in fostering assessment literacy among staff. 

This month’s NASSP Principal Leadership offers principals the following “assessment-literate habits” along with questions a principal might pose to his/her teacher/s:

1. Ensure the assessment has a specific purpose. Why are we administering this assessment? What questions do we seek to answer through this instrument? Who will use the data and what instructional decision will they inform?

2. Clarify the learning targets. What should students know and be able to do as a result of today’s instruction and learning? Can students articulate these expectations? Are there examples of quality work reflecting the learning expectations? How are these learning targets aligned to the standard/s? How will feedback regarding student performance related to this learning target help the student to know where he/she is now in his/her journey toward the standard and where he/she needs to go next?

3. Tap into the power of observation and the daily data it provides (i.e. formative assessment data). What do you notice about students’ responses? How are students engaging with the content they’re reading? What evidence might you collect during the course of the class period that will help to inform your next instructional steps? Often, observational data and students’ informally written responses in class can provide powerful insight regarding their progress toward mastering learning expectations.

4. Help teachers understand the integration between assessment and instruction—assessment is not outside of teaching, not independent from. Discuss the value of data in helping teachers plan lessons, remediate, extend, enrich, identify students’ strengths, differentiate, group, and in other ways target instruction toward the specific needs of students. Assessment is the key.

5. Support and expect collaboration. Put in place structures and schedules that facilitate teachers sharing data and jointly planning. Offer protocols that assist teachers in reviewing student work so that they can note areas for targeted instruction.

6. Use assessment as an opportunity to communicate with students and families. Visiting with students and families about the purpose of assessment, the student’s progress, strengths and areas for growth—both academically and socially/emotionally/behaviorally—and next steps and goals can build and enrich school/home relationships.

7. Understand the impact that culture has on assessment literacy. Principals play the most significant role in creating a culture of trust. Effective assessment use is contingent upon teachers being willing to be vulnerable with each other. When teachers feel comfortable sharing data, are willing to admit what they need to learn, and then engage in professional learning and coaching, student learning is impacted significantly.

Leading Learning—Growing a Growth Mindset

What limitations have you allowed to define your learning? What do your teachers believe about their own learning? Their students’ learning? Trevor Ragan invites us to think about how our beliefs impact our actions and result in growth (or not). Check out this 18-minute video and gain insights for how to develop a growth mindset!

Leading Learning: Through an Equity Lens

Leading professional learning across three dimensions—beliefs, actions, and systems–can advance equity in our schools. This month’s The Learning Professional provides starting points for inquiry and direction for leading equity-focused efforts.

Learning simultaneously across three dimensions creates the greatest potential for lasting change. Beliefs and assumptions serve to keep us psychologically safe, so we resist pushes to change them. However, we must surface mental models we hold and confront those beliefs and assumptions that have most likely unintentionally contributed to inequities. At the same time, we must take action—we must align our actions to our evolving beliefs. This may mean changing long-held patterns of behavior and routines to ensure they are equitable. Finally, we need to recognize wide spread or systemic practices that create inequities. By inquiring into our beliefs, our practices, and our policies and procedures, we may very well become aware of ways in which some populations are prevented from accessing and experiencing all that our educational system can offer. Addressing only one at a time creates frustrations and limitations in the other two dimensions, so simultaneity is key.

Where does a leader start and how? For each dimension, the authors provide strategies for the individual educator, the learning team (e.g. PLC), and the school as a whole. This chart summarizes the three dimensions and includes an example or two. For more information, access the full article






Engage in activities to surface beliefs.

Learn about students’ families and cultures.

Reflect on how classroom practices and strategies influence students’ sense of self-efficacy—implications for homework, calling upon students, group projects, etc.

Become a leader in professional learning that advances equity.

Call out inequitable practices and routines.


Set high expectations for learning and behavior.

Get connected—build quality relationships with ALL students.

Review curriculum materials for bias.

Identify and build upon students’ strengths.

Examine grading and assessment practices for potential bias and inequitable impact.


Review school practices and policies and note how they promote or inhibit equity.

Use learning walks to increase awareness of school-wide practices that inhibit equity. Collaborate to make changes.

Discuss opportunities in your building and whether all students have access? After school learning opportunities? Homework and project expectations?

Find additional resources including free downloads  

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!