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Mentoring Matters for Superintendents: November 2018

Leadership-life Fit: Don’t Cheat Sleep!

We don’t tolerate cheating in other aspects of our lives, yet we don’t think twice about betraying sleep. This PowToons video (adapted from Matthew Berg’s article in Thrive) reiterates the negative impact on our lives and subsequently our leadership when we cheat sleep. Watch and snag a few strategies for staying loyal to your Z's!

Leading for Two (and sometimes three): The Shared Superintendency

The October issue of AASA’s School Administrator provides insight into the complex role of the shared superintendent and features interviews with both current and former Iowa superintendents along with advice from SAI’s Executive Director. If you’re in a shared spot and looking for strategies and support, learn from our colleagues and others!

Lessons learned, insights gained to surviving and thriving in a shared role:

· Be flexible.

· Communicate often and via multiple mediums.

· Enjoy and appreciate people.

· Delegate to your principals and others—identify and know their strengths so that you can empower and entrust them with tasks.

· Be willing to give up total control (see previous bullet).

· Hone your organizational skills.

· Be willing to sacrifice your weeknights.

· Maintain an online calendar and a schedule board in each office so at a glance, your staff knows where you are and will be.

· Maintain your sense of humor.

· Be financially savvy.

· Having a connection in each of the districts prior to accepting the role can be very helpful.

· Accept that because you’re in multiple communities, you won’t have as many opportunities to develop the deep relationships with staff you may have experienced as a building leader.

· Support the school boards in helping prepare their communities to be realistic about their expectations for attendance and visibility—there will be many events that conflict!

· Step back, take a breath, relax—stuff happens.

Those leaders graciously willing to accept the challenges of a shared role provide cost-savings and efficiencies to their communities. Additionally, in this role, the superintendent has the 50,000 foot view of the needs of both (and sometimes multiple) systems and can design programming and resources that can be shared while better serving the needs of all students, staff, and stakeholders under his/her leadership.

Leading the Board: Clarifying Roles and Responsibilities

This resource from the Idaho School Boards Association delineates the roles and responsibilities of boards and superintendents across a range of functions. You might find they help guide conversations with your board, particularly in areas where you are seeking clarity.

Leading Instruction: A Teacher Leader Framework

Are teacher leaders new to their role in your district clear about their responsibilities? Do staff understand the purpose and function of the various teacher leader roles in your district? This Teacher Leader Framework/ teacher leader profile has proven an effective tool for communication.

In “Defining teacher leadership: A framework," the authors explain their experience in working with a science department in a specific district to generate a teacher leader profile, which they depict in a graphic that has helped clarify ambiguities and reduce tensions that can sometimes be associated as teachers shift into leadership roles.

The common language of the profile/framework details the roles and responsibilities of the science teacher leaders in this district while simultaneously communicating to the rest of the teaching staff and the administrators what can be expected from these teacher leaders. Additionally, the profile serves as a driver of professional learning. Teacher leaders and administrators designed surveys aligned to the framework, and the feedback they gathered informed next steps for professional learning.  

The framework provided and anchor for teacher leaders and the vehicle enabling them to discuss their work. Noting that “in districts that prioritize teacher leadership in this way, and that build an infrastructure to cultivate it,” the authors claim, “teachers are more likely to feel ownership over their leadership roles, define those roles more clearly, and grow professionally in ways that ultimately lead to improved student learning.”

As you seek to optimize your system of teacher leadership, you might consider designing a profile for each of your teacher leadership roles as a means for generating a common language and a shared understanding of the responsibilities of that particular role. 

from Cheung, R., Reinhardt, T., Stone, E., & Little, J.W. (10.22.18). Defining teacher leadership: A framework.  

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!