Reflect, Redesign & Relaunch!
AWSP’s Principal Mentor Program Gets a Refresh
Gina Yonts
Associate Director, AWSP
Evaluation Criteria: Creating a Culture, Aligning Curriculum, Improving Instruction, Engaging Families & Communities, Closing the Gap
The AWSP Mentor program has been in existence for the better part of six years. This program was designed to support new/newly assigned school leaders with a focus on 1:1 AWSP trained mentoring services and participation in either of our professional learning series (Launching School Leadership or Building Effective Leadership). For the past three years, we have focused on training cadres of school leadership mentors by ESD region to ensure there are local mentors to support new leaders. This has resulted in strong mentoring capacity in each region. In the summer of 2020, we invited several interested districts to begin working on implementing the AWSP Principal Induction Standards. Although we started the induction work, the lingering pandemic has stalled some of the work due to work shortages and ability to bring stakeholders together consistently. However, we have found a bit of a silver lining to this challenge and look forward to getting back to inclusion again soon. Currently, we have been able to provide some paired-down mentor trainings as needed in specific districts and regions by moving to the Zoom platform and placing portions of our training on the AWSP Path learning management system. We also brought stakeholders together in late January to develop both an oversight committee and steering committee to help influence and shape the overall mentor program.
For the past three years, we have focused on training cadres of school leadership mentors by ESD region to ensure there are local mentors to support new leaders. This has resulted in strong mentoring capacity in each region.
REFLECT World events due to the murder of George Floyd have highlighted issues of race and cultural competency, not only here in Washington state but across our nation. AWSP has spent time this past summer/fall taking a much deeper look at our current mentor training materials and taking an audit of what it is we cover and don’t cover. Presently our training focuses on the AWSP Leadership Framework, The School Leader Paradigm and the Laura Lipton & Bruce Wellman work of Leadership Focused Supervision. What is glaringly evident and uncovered by this initial audit was the lack of attention and training devoted to issues of cultural competency, diversity, equity and inclusionary practices. These topics are at the root of historical inequities, so to have well-prepared mentors, we need to ensure our training materials incorporate these topics, skills, learning and strategies into our training program. REDESIGN “Nothing for us, without us.” Critical to the redesign process is knowing that to advance racial equity, there is work for white leaders and leaders of color to do separately and together. We want to be intentional about providing spaces for people to work within their own racial/ethnic groups to support school leadership in Washington state. To this end, we were able to convene a small group of 25 school and district leaders to attend a Stakeholder’s Convening to hear first-hand about the WHY behind a mentor training program redesign and to garner support and assistance around these redesign efforts. We have already had several members of the convening offer to assist in the redesign process. Leaders have expressed an interest in being kept abreast of re-development work, participation in the Oversight Committee or to be hands-on in the redesign through a role on the Steering Committee. We have had two partner organizations in the state reach out to offer assistance as well. Statewide student demographic data has continued to shift and with this shift in student data, comes an added responsibility to have representation in school leadership that reflects this shifting demographic. AWSP wants to increase statewide support for all leaders through a robust intentional and strategic statewide mentoring program with intentionality and focus for leaders of color, while also ensuring mentors have the skills and competencies to support seated school leaders. We are thrilled to have such amazing school leaders with proven personal commitment to the importance of diversifying school leadership in the state work alongside us to create supports for leaders of color, but also create the white allyship necessary for long-term impact in the building and for students. RELAUNCH In the wake of the initial Stakeholder’s Convening, the next few months will prove to be busy as the Steering Committee continues the audit process, gathers resources and refines mentor training modules. The Steering Committee will work closely with Associate Director Gina Yonts and Dr. Scott Seaman to vet resources, explore partnerships and consider the supports school leaders should receive throughout the program. Meetings are scheduled to take place throughout the spring with the goal of debuting the refreshed AWSP Mentor Program at Summer Conference 2022. At strategic points in the redesign process, the Oversight Committee will be included in the feedback loop to act as a sounding board and lighthouse to what is being designed, goals and objectives as to ensure the program is as well rounded as possible. Furthermore, we will be developing more explicit opportunities for mentor hubs, mentee check-ins and regional supports for both leaders of color and white allyship. Internally, we look forward to adding some additional information on our mentor and coaching page on the AWSP website. If you are a mentor who was trained before 2018, you may not have been exposed to the most recent iterations of the AWSP Leadership Framework and The School Leader Paradigm resources. In this case, you may also want to pay close attention to the AWSP website as opportunities about “refresh trainings” for previously trained mentors and a few occasions to hear more about the refreshed content as it becomes available. As our mentor program continues to gain traction across the state, we hope to make our internal processes more streamlined to help busy new leaders access and request mentoring supports. If you are interested in knowing more about the redesign and relaunch, subscribe to monthly Mentor Program updates on our blog, and watch for articles in each issue of our Washington Principal magazine.
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Washington Principal | Volume 2– 2021-22