The next topic in my Time Management for Leaders Series is all about making time for classroom visits. I believe that outside of ensuring the safety of students and staff, the role of instructional leader is the most important part of a school leader’s job.
As I work with new leaders, I often hear frustration and stress from them about their inability to get into classrooms as much as they would like. In addition to the importance of maintaining an organized and focused calendar, as discussed in Calendar 911, there are some things a leader can do to make their time in classrooms efficient.
- Take your work out of the office and into classrooms- There are many leaders these days who have set up mobile desks in order to work anywhere on campus at any time.
- If you have a lot of low-thinking tasks to complete on your computer, consider if you can do them while sitting in the back of classrooms. Your presence will be noticed, you will get work done, and you will see and hear learning in action.
- If you have a pile of low-level discipline referrals on your desk that require you to speak to students, consider taking the referrals out to classrooms. Observe a classroom for a few minutes, then pull out the student with whom you need to speak. This gives you time to see the students in the class where they had an issue, and then speak to them without them having to miss extra time out of class.
- Set a purpose for your classroom visits – New leaders will often find a free moment to leave their office, but when they get into classrooms, they aren’t sure what they should do. When observing classrooms, a leader needs a purpose. Are you visiting
- In order to look for evidence of a school-wide initiative or recent professional development (such as daily objectives or a student interaction strategy)?
- to complete a formal observation?
- to provide the teacher with constructive feedback about teaching and learning?
- to focus on English Learners’ participation?
- to observe the students with the most behavior problems?
- to observe for alignment to state standards and appropriate level of complexity?
- to ensure teaching and learning are taking place?
- to determine what percentage of class time students speak?
- Create a note-taking guide that aligns with your purpose – Based on all the different reasons listed above that you might visit a classroom, what you would write down to share with the teacher would be very different. It’s important for a leader to be prepared to capture the appropriate data in order to provide evidence-based feedback. Here are some examples:
- When looking for schoolwide implementation of a specific strategy, you goal may be to capture the total number of classrooms using the strategy, and to what degree each room was implementing. You could them summarize this data for your staff without any teachers’ names included. This could be captured on a table you create ahead of time, or in a Google Form.
- When completing a formal observation, you typically need blank paper (or wordprocessing document) to script as much as possible.
- When visiting for general teaching and learning observations, it is best to select something specific to observe. In order to provide evidence-based feedback to teachers, having a narrow purpose and a clear note-taking guide helps. If you walk into a room without a purpose, your feedback may become disjointed.
Time Management for Leaders Series