You Need More Than One Mentor

John Hinds, Principal

New Year Image

Through my years of being a principal, I have learned that no one person can be a master of this job.  It is just too big!  Therefore, I have found that having one mentor is just not enough. 

 I have a mentor for data. 

 I have one for instruction.

I have another for special education. 

I have one for district politics,


 I have one for sanity.

There were several ways that I found these people.  Mainly, I just asked my peers who really enjoy one of these topics and several answered back with enthusiasm. Being a principal can be a very lonely job and when there is a time to connect with someone who either has similar interests or genuinely needs your help, it helps one feel not so isolated.

My data mentor LOVES data!  I mean she has charts all over her office, in her desk drawers, and even more on her computer.  She loves crunching data.  She finds it fascinating and comes across some really interesting correlations. Correlations that no one has ever found. 

 I can only handle her data enthusiasm about every other month but I never leave her without learning something new that has improved my leadership; especially how to visualize the data in different ways.

I have to admit that instruction does not “jazz” me.  I am just not a curriculum person.  I tend to avoid the professional development sessions on the TEKS and how they fit together.  Don’t get me wrong- I know my stuff when it comes to instruction but I just get very little energy from working with the scope and sequence.  However, I have found a mentor who loves this whole instruction/curriculum world.  She loves teaching other leaders that world.  I can learn more in thirty minutes with her than I can attending a full day session of professional development.

So, I encourage  to seek out different mentors who can help you as you sit in the principal's chair. This job is tough and overwhelming at times.  Having people around you to help you might make the difference in you staying in the position a year or many more to come.

About the author-John is the principal of Encino Park Elementary in North East ISD, San Antonio, Texas.  While he has many of his own mentors, John is a mentor and coach to many school leaders in Texas and beyond.   

Thursday, January 7, 2016