Consultant: Ira Udow, M.Ed.
While the principal (or vice-principal) is the key leader in every school, the individual sometimes starts without adequate training or the confidence that arises from really knowing the critical tasks. The job is complex and significantly different from classroom or student services experience. Even the best school division, regional or university training seldom covers all facets of the job to the point of mastery. In addition, each administrator has competencies and experiences that vary from every other administrator. The best approach for efficiently developing well-rounded competence is a personalized plan with mentorship from an experienced administrator.
Our consultant, Ira Udow, supports that experience for elementary school principals. He remembers what it is like being a sole administrator of an elementary school and the kinds of supports he wished he had when he first became a principal. He knows so well the value of a ‘critical friend’ to talk to when difficult situations would benefit from a different perspective or require an ear for brainstorming ideas.
His approach to mentorship grows from the principles of and his training in Cognitive Coaching and Participatory Action Research. The process unfolds as a trusting relationship is developed and the administrator is guided to systematically explore priority growth areas and possible courses of action. Ira helps each participant to reflect on professional practice, gather and interpret pertinent data, set personal goals, and evaluate progress.
The process begins with a pre-conference to determine if the service matches the administrator’s needs. When an agreement is reached, an personal meeting defines the mentorship process – identification of: the focuses of concern, desired outcomes, an action plan, and revisions as required – which Ira develops into a written proposal. Follow-up mentor-mentee conversations are arranged either in person or by phone/email/skype as negotiated.
Administrative mentorship can involve guidance and support in:
Leadership management responsibilities including: school organization; program supervision; program management; planning and decision making; building content and safety conditions; budget preparation, implementation and control.
Oversight of all aspects of staff performance and development; performance assessment and development; cognitive coaching and professional development; mediation of staff disputes.
Development and maintenance of effective, positive and open communication and relationship with senior administration, community, staff and students.
Coordination of services for students with special needs including collaboration with various outside agencies in providing multi-disciplinary supports for students, working with resource teachers, classroom teachers and educational assistants in the development and implementation of individual educational program adaptations or modifications.
Development of a deep cultural shift in the school in which learners and teachers understand their roles in developing an inclusive, purposeful school environment.