This past school year I accepted the #500c challenge (thank you @eduleadership!): visit 500 classrooms over the course of the school year. In making visits part of my daily routine, I had been in 500 classrooms by December. Being in classrooms as an administrator has school-wide benefits that shouldn’t need much explaining, so I’ll briefly highlight only a few. An admin presence in classrooms can:
- proactively and/or subconsciously pre-empt decision making and behaviors that do not meet expectations
- make the evaluative process and conversations more authentic
- close the “us v them” gap between teachers and admin, building trust
- provide a finger on the pulse of the school, potentially leading to more efficiently proposed expectations and directives
With all the time I spent in classrooms this year, I began realizing that it is not an independent experience conducted in a vaccuum; the perception and impact are influenced by the culture and climate of your building. Here are some examples, in no particular order:
#1 What’s he doing here? vs What can he do while he’s here? One view is defensive, and may seek counsel from the building union rep, while the other view is collaborative and is gracious for the extra set of eyes for reflective purposes, hands for instructional purposes, or both!
#2 Why isn’t he in the office handling discipline? vs He’s out in the building minimizing discipline. One view sees discipline as a reactive approach that needs administration anchored in the office, while the other sees discipline as a proactive approach with administration out and about modeling and enforcing expectations.
#3 What if he sees a lesson that wasn’t my best? vs I’m glad he’ll see all these great lessons! One view is very private, and wants to shield the big bad administrator from seeing an imperfection, while the other takes comfort in knowing there will be numerous data points to support the teacher’s professional self-perception.
#4 (variation of #3) I hope he doesn’t see a lesson that isn’t my best… vs I hope he sees a lesson that isn’t my best! One view wants to sweep areas of improvement under the rug, while the other is eager to learn, build, and grow in said area.
#5 Doesn’t he have any work to do? vs My instruction and the learning in my classroom are a priority, and are his work. One view thinks administrators have no work to do (or don’t do any work), so they just stroll through the building looking to meddle in teachers’ business, while the other view is appreciative that they and their work are a valued commodity in the learning environment.
Teachers, I respectfully request that you leverage the luxury of another education professional in your classroom. Administrators, I urge you to be a physical presence in your building. Upper Administrators, I implore you to allow the lower Administrators to serve from the inside and out: office, hallways, and classrooms.