Preparing Boys for Life.

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Mentoring aspiring school leaders
The Haverford School

Over the past four years as a mentor with Penn's Graduate School of Education, what shifts have you seen in learning practices?

Penn has always been committed to a healthy of blend of theory and practice, but in recent years I have been impressed with their commitment to collaborative learning and authentic project-based learning. My mentees certainly write their fair share of papers, but more often, they are assigned to teams and challenged with projects that replicate real-life school leadership experiences such as introducing a change process at a faculty meeting or providing a curricular review to a set of parents. Playing a disgruntled teacher or a weary parent is a nice change for me!

What case study was particularly inspiring?

One hotly debated case study involved a new Head of School, a one-time history department chair, whose ambition is was to reimagine the way history was being taught at her new school. She found her efforts being quietly undermined by an experienced teacher with close connections to alumni and parents, including a board member. Helping students puzzle out the best tack for approaching this and the political challenges that come with transitioning to a school leadership position at a new school was a lot of fun.

In an era characterized by exponential change across all industries, including education, the work we are doing today to train the independent school leaders of tomorrow is incredibly important and exciting. The health and success of our schools, not to mention the young people they will graduate, will depend in no small part upon the agility, vision, and emotional intelligence of the school leaders at the helm.

What are the commonalities among strong school leaders?

Increasingly, the emphasis is on the soft skills of leadership: authenticity, humility, integrity, communication, listening skills, especially in the context of change management. There is a lot a school leader has to know and be able to do, but if he or she is missing those soft skills, the people are not likely to follow, however knowledgeable or technically capable he or she may be.

How does your expertise as a senior leader at an all-boys school influence your interactions with GSE students?

Being a leader of a boys' school, I am quick to point out any biases my mentees or students might have about boys and how they learn. In particular, I emphasize the importance of relational skills to boys and provide gentle reminders that boys have rich emotional inner lives that need to be nourished. I support one of my mentees in designing a community life survey, the goal of which was to take the temperature of the social climate at his all-boys school.

What opportunities await the next generation of school leaders?

In an era characterized by exponential change across all industries, including education, the work we are doing today to train the independent school leaders of tomorrow is incredibly important and exciting. The health and success of our schools, not to mention the young people they will graduate, will depend in no small part upon the agility, vision, and emotional intelligence of the school leaders at the helm.

Matt Green is Haverford's Head of Upper School. Outside the classroom, he consults weekly with master's students as a university-sponsored mentor for the School Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. Green is also on the Steering Committee for the Summer Leadership Institute, co-sponsored by the Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools and the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. As part of a team of senior leaders in independent school education, Green helps design and deliver a week of summer programming on the topics of advancement, finance, best practices in personnel management and faculty development, and schools and the law.

Green earned a B.A. in English from Tufts University and an M.Ed. from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

Learn more about Mr. Green and his educational philosophy >

Photos: Mr. Green meeting with a new mentee at the University of Pennsylvania; a student from UPenn's Graduate School of Education conducting a focused observation of The Haverford School's arts program.


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