PMP372: The Power of Principal Mindfulness with Dr. Rob Russell and Dr. Dustin Miller

In this week’s episode, Dr. Jen Schwanke hosts an episode interviewing Drs. Rob Russell and Dustin Miller, with lessons from a recent article they authored on The Power of Principal Mindfulness.

Rob Russell, Ed. D., is an assistant principal at New Albany High School in New Albany, Ohio. He is a former science teacher. His research focuses on understanding the relationship between leadership decision-making and school culture.

Dustin Miller, Ph. D., is an assistant professor of clinical educational studies and director of the Ed.D in Educational Administration at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. He is a former principal and English teacher. His research focuses on principal professional learning and crisis leadership. 

Listen to the entire conversation for great takeaways. Below is a summary of their conversation with Jen Schwanke and a link to their article, Being a More Mindful Principal, featured in ASCD’s Education Leadership that sets the stage for their discussion.

Summary of the show:

This podcast episode will give Principal Matters something to think about— your own thinking!  

Several years ago, Dr. Rob Russell, an assistant principal in Central Ohio, entered his doctoral program at The Ohio State University wondering about the importance of principal mindfulness. Dr. Dustin Miller, who oversees the Ed.D. program at The Ohio State University and served as Rob’s advisor, joined him in developing and analyzing his research. They both wanted the idea of mindful leadership to transfer into applicable takeaways to the practitioners in the field—current and aspiring principals— while also being based on strong quantitative research. At the root of their work was the question of how mindfulness can improve the principal experience— both personally and with the relationships they have with others at their school. 

Their conclusions, published in the October 2023 Educational Leadership magazine, outline the power of mindful leadership and explain how principals can intentionally become more mindful— first, by actively practicing awareness and reflection techniques, and second, by using deliberate, thoughtful questioning to build mindfulness in others. Using a survey of over 200 educators, who weighed in on their perceptions of their principal’s mindfulness capabilities, Rob and Dusty found that educators often do not need to get exactly what they want, but they do want their principal to hear them and, as Rob says, “to be taken seriously.” Valuing the perspective of others is part of a commitment to mindfulness. 

As an extra bonus, mindful leadership can be a helpful tool in influencing positive mindsets, interactions, and responses throughout a school. Principals have a great deal of power to build their own confidence, improve their own leadership, and support student learning—but they can also use mindfulness to provide this same growth with their teachers and students. In the end, a mindful principal will lead a building that is a positive place to work, learn, and grow. 

Here’s a link to their article in ASCD’s Education Leadership magazine:

Thank you for listening in, and thank you again for doing what matters!

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker