Ready, Set,
AWSP Offers Mentoring and Leadership Coaching for Members
Gina Yonts
Associate Director, AWSP
Evaluation Criteria: Creating a Culture, Engaging Communities
Beginning a new leadership assignment, whether you are right out of an administrative program or have been leading for years, is an exciting opportunity for any school leader. The first few years in a new leadership seat provide an opportunity for school leaders to learn many new things. Culture, systems and leading the learning for your school can come with specific complexities for school leadership — having a mentor that is not your direct supervisor, is trained on the AWSP Framework, and understands the School Leader Paradigm can be a support to a school leader who is navigating the ropes of a new school, a new level or new professional career opportunity. AWSP’s Principal Mentoring program has really begun to take off and has been an amazing compliment to the Launching School Leadership and Building Effective Leadership professional learning series offered each year to our members. We have had more requests for mentoring and support in this past year than ever before and it’s exciting to watch the program grow and expand. As we work to partner leaders with trained mentoring supports, we encourage new leaders to be intentional and to connect with other school leaders through the professional learning and principal networks associated with the professional development series. Coupling professional learning and mentoring supports within a cohort model has proven to keep school leaders afloat, connected and to some degree balanced. Learning the complexity of school leadership alongside a mentor who has “been there, done that” can provide the kind of professional relationship critical to new leaders and their development.
We have had more requests for mentoring and support in this past year than ever before and it’s exciting to watch the program grow and expand.
Are You Ready? New leaders have many things coming at them from lots of different angles and although having an assigned mentor sounds like a great idea, before everyone shows up and the reality of the job sets in, readiness to benefit from mentoring is critical to the mentoring relationship. Mentoring is a professional relationship different from those you may be experiencing daily. Your mentor is willing, able, and ready to support you in any phase of school leadership—not just because they care, but because they are READY to support you by leading by example, serving as an advocate, being a sounding board, or key encourager. They are here just for YOU! Mentees who show READINESS to BENEFIT are seeking out the help and guidance from their mentor. They are observing other school leaders in their systems around planning, reflecting on practice and asking questions of their direct supervisor and colleagues. Mentees who are willing to self-assess, be humble, receive coaching and guidance from their supervisors and mentors tend to stay in their job roles and experience higher levels of success. Mentees who demonstrate a willingness to watch, listen and learn as well as seek out networks to actively participate report higher job satisfaction, than those who do not.
Get Set… Taking the nod from other professional industries, we do not have to look far to know that getting involved in a mentoring program is beneficial to new leaders but healthy for existing school leaders to assist in the development of leadership with their colleagues. It truly is a win-win for both mentors and mentees! It is important for school leaders to take an internal audit about our personal readiness to benefit from such supports — leaning into areas of our own leadership that we might not be feeling confident in, yet. Your mentor is poised specifically to support you as you navigate your leadership position. Often, new leaders feel a bit overwhelmed at first to carry out all the job expectations thrust upon them. These past few school years with health and safety concerns, COVID protocols, quarantining and teaching shortages — leadership has been challenging, if not daunting. Your AWSP trained mentor is here to be the sounding board, the person to share these concerns and worries with and to be the head cheerleader in bolstering you to continue moving forward. Plan out the mentoring dates and times ahead of time — schedule them into your calendar and collectively establish topics of support so you both show up ready and with collegial work to focus your conversations. Your mentor is a non-evaluative person on your team, one to listen and coach. Mentees who benefit the most from this program, are planned out, show up humble, ready, and excited to learn and prioritize their personal leadership learning. Mentees and Mentors understand and are committed to building personal networks of support. Let’s GROW! Your AWSP mentor has leadership experience, been vetted and trained to support YOU! Our generous grant from OSPI has helped provide this support and you should count yourself among the lucky! Our current funding helps to provide 1:1 mentoring for approximately 125 new school leaders each year at no cost to the member. Requests for mentoring have been on the rise the past three years and we now have a waiting list for the 2021-22 school year. AWSP knows and understands the complexities of school leadership and we want to be here to ensure the first few years in your new leadership position are successful. We lean on a wide variety of amazing school leaders (both in the system and recently retired) to walk alongside you as you navigate your new school’s culture, systems and teaching/learning practices. We look forward to assisting new leaders to engage with our professional learning networks through continued professional development and supports. We see you, and we are here to help and support. Take advantage of what AWSP has to offer; continued growth is up to YOU! Sidebar note: Mentoring and Leadership Coaching are two services that AWSP offers to AWSP members. The mentoring program is offered in partnership with OSPI and provides FREE mentoring services to AWSP members. If you are a more seasoned school leader (beyond three years of school leadership experience) and just needing support and thought partnering, you may be interested in our coaching services, which has a fee structure attached, but grants you access to trained AWSP mentors who can be partnered with you based on a specific request of level, experience and expertise. Contact Associate Director, Gina Yonts for more information. (
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Washington Principal | Volume 1– 2021-22