Mentoring for new principals, once rare, is now required by half the nation’s states. That’s a major advance, but many programs are not yet tailored to developing principals who can drive better instruction, according to this Wallace analysis. Drawing on research that identifies where these programs often fall short, the report offers five guidelines for more effective mentoring. Providing high-quality training for mentors is one essential step, as not all experienced and successful principals have the skills to mentor new ones. The report also derives lessons from the successes and challenges of two standout mentoring programs, the New York City Leadership Academy and one in Kentucky's Jefferson County School District. After a first-year evaluation uncovered weaknesses in its approach, the Leadership Academy increased the duration of its mentoring from one year to three and added more supports for mentors, including training and observation. Jefferson County enhanced a statewide mentoring program by adding mentoring hours for principals and training hours for mentors. But the absence of evaluation data to show that high-quality mentoring has had a measurable effect on principal performance puts Jefferson County's program at risk of being deemed "nice but not necessary" in tough economic times.

 Points of Interest

  • Some of the best coaching for new principals poses questions that lead to self-reflection and a search for solutions. This approach to mentoring contrasts sharply with supplying a new school leader with “right answers” or approaches that may have worked for the mentor but that can stunt the development of the new principal.
    Strong coaching for new #principals doesn't give answers, but poses questions leading to self-reflection. #education
  • New principals need to be coached to challenge cherished school practices and put the success of all children first, even when it means a tough battle.
    New #principals can use coaching on putting children's success first, even when it means a tough battle. #education
  • The business community, which already is convinced of the need for mentoring in its own organizations and has been critical of the quality of American education, may be an untapped resource for mentoring new school leaders in places where mentoring programs don't yet exist or for enhancing the quality of mentoring in places that do.
    Business leaders concerned about #education quality could help in efforts to mentor new #principals.