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Mentoring Matters for Assistant and Associate Principals and Deans: November 2019

Leadership-life Fit – Gratitude Is your Superpower 


Looking to level-up your energy and improve your leadership-life fit? Develop the habit of giving gratitude. Follow these steps to find more energy, more joy, more life:

  1. Start simply. Write down the basics for which you are grateful. Today, my gratitude list included my comfortable bed, my comforter, a steaming cup of coffee, warm socks, and a bowl of oatmeal. These essentials form the building blocks upon which a practice of gratitude is built. Even on those days when everything is coming at me, and nothing is going as I had planned, I can be grateful for a bed to sleep in and coffee to drink.
  2.  Try saying your list out loud. Writing and speaking create a mental shift that helps reduce cortisol levels and activate the parasympathetic nervous system which slows the stress response and mediates anxiety and anger. The research benefits of a practice of gratitude are grounded in science.
  3. Whether handwritten in a journal or electronically, make giving gratitude part of your daily routine. Notice what shifts for you as a result of being grateful.  


Learn more about the health benefits of gratitude from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. 


Leading for College and Career Ready


NASSP’s Assistant Principal of the Year discusses how she has closed the opportunity gap for students in her rural PK-12 building so that they are aware of options that await them after graduation. 


Meghan Redmond identifies the following strategies for connecting her students with the world beyond.

  1. Virtual Visits – Redmond works with colleges, universities, and other postsecondary training programs to connect her students virtually to college tours and visits. Alumni from the school also video conference with current students to respond to their questions about life after high school.
  2.  Travel Opportunities – cost generally prohibits much travel; however, on special occasions it does provide a way to connect students to other places and people.
  3. Create Learning Opportunities – Redmond has developed relationships with other experts in their fields to connect them to her students virtually so that these students can be exposed to the widest variety of careers. She has also worked with teachers and other masters of their trade who travel to her community or who live there; she has invited them to teach classes and connect with her students.
  4. Give Gratitude – though others may perceive that her students experience an opportunity gap, Redmond instills in them a sense of pride for what they have that others do not. Their experience is another’s opportunity gap.


Read the full blog


Coaching Teachers 


The impact of a highly effective teacher on student growth and learning is well documented in research. How can you coach for greatest success? This four-minute video offers insight regarding the value of a focused weekly observation coupled with targeted coaching and feedback around a single action step. 


 Leading Learning: Through an Equity Lens


Leading professional learning across three dimensions—beliefs, actions, and systems—can advance equity in our schools. Learning Forward’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 widespread 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.


Beliefs Actions Systems

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.
School 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

- elementary
- middle level and secondary

We encourage you to process in your mentor-mentee team to identify other items that may need your attention!