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Mentoring school principals: What are Wyoming districts doing and what do principals want?

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Presentation at Northern Rocky Mountain Educational Research Association Conference, Oct 09

Presentation at Northern Rocky Mountain Educational Research Association Conference, Oct 09


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  • 1. Mentoring school principals: What are Wyoming districts doing and what do principals want?
    Heather E. Duncanhduncan@uwyo.edu
    Mark Stock mstock1@uwyo.edu
    Department of Professional Studies
    University of Wyoming
    Paper presented at MRMERA October 8, 2009, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
    1
  • 2. Overview of Presentation
    Rationale for study
    Wyoming context
    Key questions
    Demographics of participants
    Findings
    Recommendations
    2
  • 3. The role of principal has swelled to include a staggering array of professional tasks and competencies(Davis et al., 2005, p.4)
    Principals are expected to be
    educational visionaries
    instructional and curriculum leaders, assessment experts,
    disciplinarians
    community and public relations builders
    communications experts
    budget analysts
    facility managers
    special programs administrators
    guardians of various legal, contractual, and policy mandates and initiatives.
    Davis, S., Darling-Hammond, L., LaPointe, M., & Meyerson, D. (2005). School leadership study: Developing successful principals. Stanford, CA: Stanford.
    3
  • 4. Why do we need to develop and support our principals?
    “ The difference between a competent principal and one who's over his or her head is the difference between a school that is effective, innovative and open and one that isn't” (Guterman, 2007).
    Guterman, J. (2007). Where have all the principals gone? The acute school-leader shortage. Edutopia. Retrieved November 9, 2007, from http://www.edutopia.org/where-have-all-principals-gone
    4
  • 5. What is Mentoring?
    Mentoring is a collaborative relationship, that provides support and dialogue on authentic issues, and provides opportunities for sharing. It is a creative method of promoting professional development that sets in motion the process of self-actualization and growth (Talley & Henry, 2008)
    5
  • 6. Wyoming
    • 10th largest state
    • 7. Population – 0.5 million
    • 8. 5.1 people/sq mile
    • 9. Laramie -7200ft above sea level
  • Wyoming Schools and Districts
    48 districts
    <100 Students - >2000 students
    343 schools
    198 elementary
    62 middle/JH
    77 secondary (including 15 G 7/8 -12)
    6K-12
    85,578 students (fall 2007)
    7
  • 10. Statewide Leadership ConversationSpring 2008
    Because Wyoming is a local control state, there is no consistency among districts in requirements for leadership and professional development
    The size of a district frequently determines whether or not there is capacity to plan and execute high quality professional development to administrators (and teachers)
    Geography impacts on opportunities for principal professional development
    Much of the professional development presented in the state and districts does not include follow through on implementation and further learning or coaching.
    8
  • 11. Key Questions
    Is mentoring important for Wyoming principals?
    What mentorship programs are currently in place to develop and support new principals in Wyoming school districts?
    In what areas do Wyoming school principals perceive mentorship is most important?
    What factors promote and inhibit districts to initiate and develop principal mentorship programs?
    What factors motivate principals to act as mentors?
    9
  • 12. Survey Data
    187 responses ex 274 = 68.3% return rate
    All respondents had master’s degrees in education; 10 had doctorates
    58 (30.3%) female: 129 (69.7%) male [Wy 31: 69}
    Mean length of time as principal was 10.59 years (2 months – 35 years)
    Mean length of time in present position was 6.28 years (2 months – 29 years)
    4 ranges
    0-3 yrs: beginning
    4-7 yrs: intermediate
    8-15 yrs: experienced
    16- 35 yrs: very experienced
    10
  • 13. Respondent Demographics
    11
    Respondents
    M 129; F 58
  • 14. Wyoming = 198
    Wy 62
    Wy 75
    Wy 6
  • 15.
  • 16. What programs are currently in place to develop and support new principals in Wyoming school districts?
    14
  • 17.
  • 18.
  • 19. Mentoring
    17
  • 20. Commitment of Districts to Principal Mentoring
    None of the districts with mentoring programs formally evaluated them.
    15% of districts with mentoring programs discussed them informally at principal evaluations.
    Principal mentoring was included in the district School Improvement Plan (yes 12.3%; no 70.3%; don’t know 17.3 %)
  • 21. In what areas do Wyoming school principals perceive mentorship is most important?
    19
  • 22.
  • 23. Most Important 4 Areas for Mentorship v. Levels of Principal Experience
    Beginning principals
    data-driven decisions
    difficult faculty
    3.= difficult parents
    3.= legal issues
    Experienced principals
    1. instructional leadership
    2.= data-driven decisions
    2.=difficult faculty
    4. Creating collegiality
    Intermediate principals
    difficult faculty
    difficult parents
    instructional leadership
    data-driven decisions
    V. Experienced principals
    instructional leadership
    data-driven decisions
    Difficult faculty
    Difficult parents
  • 24.
  • 25.
  • 26.
  • 27.
  • 28. Summing up
    Only a small percentage of beginning principals reported formal mentoring
    Formal mentoring programs that existed were for beginning principals only.
    Most principals in the intermediate range (4-7 years) did not have a mentor.
    The majority of experienced principals indicated that mentoring was also important for their group.
    Working with difficult teachers is an area principals, however experienced, would welcome the opportunity to talk over with a mentor.
    The use of data in making decisions and instructional leadership were identified as important
    Female principals rated the importance of mentoring in all areas higher than male principals, significantly in dealing with difficult people, personal issues, and legal issues.
    Time is the most important factor in mentoring programs
  • 29. 27
    Killing Time                                                    
  • 30. What Can Districts do?
    “The single most important thing a superintendent can do to support new principals is make sure that they don't feel they're out there all by themselves”
    “The bottom line is principals must be trained, and feel supported and part of a team.” (Guterman, 2007).
    Guterman, J. (2007). Where have all the principals gone? The acute school-leader shortage. Edutopia. Retrieved November 9, 2007, from http://www.edutopia.org/where-have-all-principals-gone
    28
  • 31. A Principal Mentorship Program Needs
    Commitment to development of new principals
    Support from the top
    Commitment to adequate amounts of time
    Room in the budget
    Structured expectations
    Feedback loops
    29
  • 32. Limitations
    While the response rate was fairly high and the gender balance was representative of the Wyoming principal population, the school grade levels of principal respondents were predominantly elementary (k-8). Therefore, the findings of this study may be generalisable only to principals of K-8 schools in Wyoming.

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