Why Supervisors & Administrators Need to Be Mentors Too
There are at least SIX REASONS why supervisors and administrators need to be mentors too:
1. Supervisors & administrators must also be effective staff developers. Their day-to-day interaction with staff can become a powerful force for school improvement, IF they know how to grow a more excellent faculty out of the one they already have.
2. Research data show that the traditional "clinical supervision" model DOES NOT sufficiently promote staff improvement. Administrators must know something else to develop the more excellent teaching faculty their schools need. The process for doing that, AND simultaneously improving student learning is High Impact Mentoring. This is so because High Impact MENTORING is really the model for High Impact TEACHING that teachers need to use with their own students. In other words, the high impact mentoring that administrators use day after day with teachers is a model of what teachers need to do with students every day.
3. The complexity of running schools and educational programs, and the overwhelming quantity of work to be done, quickly lead administrators to realize that they can't do it all themselves and that they need a team of effective school leaders to help them. However, not every group of people are an 'effective team of leaders". The administrator must know how to develop such an effective team of leaders, or their 'help" will create more work, and will be no help at all! The "administrator as mentor" model is how you can develop the team you need to effectively help you lead the many school improvement processes you lead now.
4. Developing teacher leadership ultimately saves administrative time. It takes a lot less time for an effective team of leaders to accomplish tasks than it does for one leader to do it all him or her self. Whatever an effective team of leaders can do is one less thing YOU have to do.
5. Developing teachers as positive school leaders increases the social pressure in a school for improvement of teaching & student learning. That is, this happens if these teacher leaders know how to effectively lead and facilitate improvement. They WILL KNOW HOW IF you have been a mentor to them using the Best Practice "School Leaders as Mentors" model.
6. No matter how powerful, charismatic, and insightful an educator and leader you are, your natural strengths mean you also have natural weaknesses. The diverse strengths of an effective team, however, provide more resources to target problems and accomplish work than do the strengths on any one leader.
Possible Data Gathering Prior to Providing This Training
In the section below is an outline of the typical "School Leaders as Mentors" Training agenda which Barry Sweeny uses. If you bring Barry to your site to lead this training for your supervisors and administrators, this agenda can be adapted to your specific needs. To do so, Barry will typically take three steps to gain the data he needs to customize the training so that it builds on your administrative strengths, challenges administrators to become the leaders their schools need, and shows them how to effectively be the chief mentor for the whole school. Barry might:
1. Ask a series of questions of the contact person regarding administrators' prior training and knowledge base
2. Ask the client district, prior to this training, to distribute, collect, and forward to him, returns from a participant needs assessment that Barry can provide.
3. Interview via phone or email, 1-3 administrators whose names and contact information the district will provide.
A Description of the "School Leaders as Mentors" Training
Below is an outline of the typical "School Leaders as Mentors" Training agenda. If you bring Barry Sweeny to your site to lead this training, this agenda can be adapted to your specific needs. See the section immediately above for how Barry does this.
PARTICIPANT COMMENTS ON BARRY'S "SUPERVISORS AS MENTORS" TRAINING
"We invited Barry Sweeny to work with members of our School Leadership degree program after checking his references with previous clients. His reputation is what led us to select him for work in our program, and we looked forward to his leadership.
The program participants are practicing administrators in Jewish day schools who come to us from all over the Western Hemisphere and Africa. The considerable effort it takes to bring these people together for this program means that the program must be very strong, provide major insights, and change practices. Specifically, we wanted these leaders to learn practical strategies to use to build the strengths of their teachers, increase results for their students, and be more than managers of their schools and programs.
Barry was prompt and comprehensive in his communication in advance of the events. His strengths in both the practical and theoretical areas were obvious to us and just what we sought. Barry's work significantly helped us to accomplish the program's goals and more. His emphasis on the specifics of actually developing a learning community were terrific. Further, without our asking for it, he even mentored the two of us during our time together. Now we know why he has such a good reputation." - Drs. Stan Peerless & Esther Feldman, Professors, Bar Ilan University, Tel Aviv, Israel
"As a principal, I came to this training from a 'clinical supervision' frame of mind, and thought I was just here to support teachers in my building who wanted to try the coaching. Barry, you have really helped me to see that what I do in the district's teacher evaluation process can become much more of a professional growth opportunity for my staff. Thanks for the powerful insights you gave me! I am truly excited and ready to put your training to work back home." - Wayne A. (a principal in Rhode Island).
"I hired Barry Sweeny to lead a day of training with about 95 participants in three cohorts of our AEL Program. The Alliance for Educational Leadership Program is an alternative degree program in that it accomplishes certification outside the traditional university setting. As such, the AEL Program has become known as a practical, performance-oriented, and effective development system for school administrators. We attract top quality administrative candidates who themselves have high expectations for their experiences in the program and the skills they will develop.We cannot afford to have any part of our program be less than excellent.
I hired Barry because of my multiple observations of his work in our center's TxBESS Induction program in which I found him to be consistently outstanding. I also sought and received the personal recommendation of my colleague, the coordinator of that program, who had worked with Barry for about 45 days by that point. My directions to barry were to provide practical skills and a rationale for principals to act as staff developers by using his "high impact" mentoring and coaching strategies. I trusted Barry with tremendous responsibilites and he did not disappoint! The whole experience was as outstanding as I expected. - Charwynne Hazelwood, Coordinator, Alliance for Educational Leadership Program, ESC Region XI, Fort Worth, Texas