“To improve (schools), one must invest in people, support people, and develop people.” -Phil Schlecty, Schools for the 21st Century
Most school districts have strong mentoring programs for new teachers. Unfortunately, this approach rarely meets the on-going needs of the entire staff. Developing a school-wide mentoring program may appear daunting, but by just following six simple action steps, staff needs can be met!
1. Identify your priorities!
• Is there a new initiative, or a data point that needs to be improved?
• How about classroom management?
2. MTSS (Multi-Tier System of Supports)/RTI (Response to Intervention) isn’t just for students!
• Tier your staff.
• Who needs weekly support? Monthly? Quarterly?
• Who needs individualized support vs small group?
• By “chunking” staff into these groups, you will find your time and resources to be utilized more efficiently!
3. Align everything!
• School improvement plans, grant requirements, staff evaluation instruments…they all require effective leadership and instruction.
• Do you have a guiding document that covers everything, or do you need to draft a new one?
4. Use your team!
• Who scored the highest last year in learner engagement? Can they lead a small group each month to support others?
• Do you have instructional coaches? Which group/tier do you want them supporting?
• If staff understand the roles and responsibilities of everyone supporting them, they will feel much less stressed about how to manage their many responsibilities.
5. Put it on paper!
• What’s your school-wide goal?
• Is there a different goal for identified groups (based on data, years of experience, position)?
• Include an individualized goal for each staff member.
• Is there a template that you can utilize for all staff that includes this information? Include support team members, descriptions of types of support, frequency of support, deadlines and how improvement will be measured.
6. Communication is key!
• What’s your message?
• How will you present your initial approach?
• What artifacts will you utilize to make your new approach part of your school culture?
School wide improvement is difficult. School leader’s time is often spent on hiring and student behavior. However, consider the reasons for teacher turnover. Studies indicate that teachers leave their school district or the profession because of student behaviors and a lack of administrative support. Follow these six steps in your next school-wide improvement plan.