No Office Day!

No Office Day Badge

Yesterday was a great day! It was actually initiated Wednesday after school when I had a staff meeting and realized that I’d barely been in classes for more than a walk-thru in the last month. I can give a million excuses why that was the case, but each and every one of them are just that… excuses! So, instead, I’ll just tell you how my “No Office” Day (#noofficeday) came about.

At the staff meeting, I told my staff that I was going to spend most of the next day visiting them. But on Thursday a meeting I was waiting for (with two other people’s schedules needing to coincide) happened at 10am and I was kept in meetings until 1pm. Then I had a parent coming in to help us out after lunch and I spent the afternoon with her (introducing our students to ping-pong, our parent was a Korean National and International champion). Classroom count: 3 classes, and two of them were in the gym.

So, Friday morning I decided to leave my laptop at home and truly have a “No Office” Day. That morning, I wrote this on twitter:

I am having a “No office” day today. Will spend real time (not just walk-thrus) in every class. Going to be a GREAT Day!:-D

… and then when I took my first picture in the Pre-school, I decided to send accounts of my day to twitter with the hashtag #noofficeday. I have shared the events of the day below.

Yes, I had a few issues that required me going to the office, but not having my laptop, they sent me to my secretary’s desk. Standing at her desk, it seemed pretty easy to ‘not get stuck doing something else’, which commonly happens to me… and probably many other as well. What might normally have ended up with me tethered to my desk for an hour, was dealt with in minutes… and I was back on my way to another class.

So, to all the administrators out there reading this…

I challenge you to have a “No Office” Day!

Leave your computer at home. If you are so inspired, take a few pictures or make a few comments along the way and send them off to Twitter with a hashtag #noofficeday. Although I may not record these days on Twitter again, I’ve challenged myself to have 2 more of these days in the next 2 weeks before our Christmas break. Yes, I’ve got a lot of other things that need to get done, but this was such a valuable experience!

It certainly helped that I have an AMAZING staff that welcome me into their rooms, WONDERFUL students that were engaged with the classroom activities, and some really GREAT things happening in our classrooms¹… but I can say that no other day this year has recharged my batteries as much as they were charged yesterday. Look at your calendars and find make the time for a “No Office” Day!

– – – – –Tweet 1 No Office Day

No Office Day - Boat
First job today: We built a boat in pre-school
No Office Day - Define It
"... and if you know it, define it."
No Office Day - Electricity
Electricity definition booklets.
Secret Santa Oath. "I will keep my identity secret or buy my teacher a Grande latte every day for the rest of the year"
Mock United Nations Security Council solving the Syria crisis
United Nations Security Council solving the Syria crisis
No Office Day - Football not Soccer
Seconds before the #goal #theRealFootballNotSoccer
No Office Day - Editing Symbols
Editing Symbols
No Office Day - For you Mr Truss
"For you, Mr. Truss"
No Office Day - Oranges
Descriptive paragraphs on oranges. #BYOLaptop² #ConcreteExample
No Office Day - Adding
Adding strategy posters. Concepts presented next week. #numeracy
No Office Day - Math Drills
Math Drills³... (review). The basics matter!

No Office Day - Lunchtime

No Office Day - Student Created Math Problem
Student created math problem. Must use a chart when solving.
No Office Day - Reducing Squares Problem Solving
Reducing Squares #ProblemSolving
No Office Day - Decorations
Decoration-making to end the day! Loved my #NoOfficeDay

– – – – –

Footnotes:

¹ GREAT things happening in our classrooms

² BYOLaptop

³ Math Drills

Cross-posted on Pair-a-Dimes for Your Thoughts

28 Comments

  1. Dave – Thanks. I think I need to schedule a no office day. Every time I visit classrooms, I am filled with positive thoughts and energy from seeing the work of staff and students. Yet, I still do not get into classrooms enough!

    I have even given up my office and taken a desk in the lobby as my home-base, but I still do not think I am getting into classrooms enough. Obviously, I need a #noofficeday!.

    I think this could catch on.

    December 11, 2010
    Reply
  2. I like to have a no-office day from time to time, but I spend my time deep in the forest taking photographs of flowers and birds. Equally valuable, but a lot harder to explain to management.

    December 11, 2010
    Reply
  3. George, This is a post for all administrators to read and reread from time to time. How do we build those relationships without frequent visits to the classroom? We won’t! Thanks for the example to follow. #noofficeday or #dontletpaperworktrapyouintheoffice

    December 11, 2010
    Reply
  4. Bill Carozza said:

    Wonderful post Dave-you express one of my top frustrations in my role as Principal. My staff will let me know if they haven’t seen me in a while by saying, half jokingly, “have you been in school lately”?

    December 11, 2010
    Reply
  5. Adam said:

    Fantastic! Being out of the office seems to always be a goal, but rarely happens. Keep up the good work.

    December 11, 2010
    Reply
  6. David Truss said:

    Patrick,
    I’ve seen a photo of you in your front lobby ‘office’… I think that is a great metaphor for approachability and openness!

    Stephen,
    That would indeed be a lot harder to explain to management… I think the “No Office” Day you describe is an altogether different kind of #noofficeday and yet it is also one that I think many hard-working people deserve once in a while! I believe it would increase overall productivity!

    Rich,
    I think #dontletpaperworktrapyouintheoffice is actually a better description of #NoOfficeDay, but with that many characters, it really isn’t Twitter friendly. 😉

    Bill,
    I remember the first time I heard a similar comment, I think it was “Hey stranger, where have you been?” and as much as it was said half jokingly, it stung.
    Both of my daughters go to my school and although I don’t remember the original conversation that started this, my youngest one said to me at bedtime a few weeks back… “You had a great day today Daddy!” When I asked her why she thought so her reply was, “When I see you in my class once in a day, it’s a good day, and when I see you in my class twice in a day, then you are having a great day!” …Out of the mouth of babes!

    Adam,
    Your comment is exactly why I ended my post with, “Look at your calendars and find make the time for a “No Office” Day!” If we try to find the time… we probably won’t… I think we have to MAKE the time for it to actually happen!

    December 11, 2010
    Reply
  7. A few years ago, we had a capital project and the nurse’s office was not ready on the day school opened. Since my principal’s office was the only other room with a toilet, I gave it up to the nurse for the first two weeks of school. That meant I had no office. I had my cellphone, walkie talkie, and my laptop. What else did I need? I hung out in classrooms to do computer work and had all my calls forwarded to my cell. When the Kindergarten teachers came to show their classes the principal’s office, I showed them my technology trio and said “this is my office.” After that I used the principal’s office as a time out room. I had nothing on the walls so the room would be really boring. After a student was there for a half-hour or so I would ask them “where would your rather be? Here or in your classroom.” This worked most of the time. When it didn’t, I knew that the child had more serious issues than just being the class clown. Keep up the good work and check out my blog for easy self-development.
    Douglas W. Green, EdD

    December 11, 2010
    Reply
    • David Truss said:

      Douglas,
      Would love to have seen their faces when you said, “this is my office.”
      Having my phone with me was essential. Although I only responded to about 3 or 4 emails, one of them prevented a potential Monday morning issue, and only took minutes to resolve. Also, I was paged (texted) to the office once. I also read up on the Syrian crises a bit as students were defending their approaches to it in their “Mock UN Security Council Meeting”, and I used my phone again as a dictionary to look up the meaning of a word for a student. Having a phone that has web access is a game changer… (for us and for our students!)

      December 12, 2010
      Reply
  8. Lyn Hilt said:

    David,
    This was exciting to read! As I mentioned to you, I have just started spending time immersed in a certain grade level for the entire day… I am really excited to share my thoughts on these days in a post soon! I just spent Friday with grade three, and I left with a gigantic smile on my face. It was the best day!!

    December 12, 2010
    Reply
  9. Dave Meister said:

    David,

    Excellent post! Without building relationships educators have little ability to make a difference. I sometimes get caught up in the minutia of the job and do not get out in the classrooms enough. This post will be a great reminder to make time to do the important things!

    December 12, 2010
    Reply
  10. […] My colleague David Truss has coined these days in the life of an administrator “No Office Days.” As I recently drafted this post and planned to share about my grade level days, I was so excited to see David’s inspiring post and read about his day of learning with students. Be sure to read about his experiences in his latest post! […]

    December 12, 2010
    Reply
  11. Cale Birk (@birklearns) said:

    A great post, and I love the concept! I had a friend remind me that the reason that I am not in classrooms more is ….. ME.

    Everytime I am in a class, I feel a great deal more connected to my school and better about what I do. I find it amazing that I can actually resist the positive endorphins so that I can do paperwork or write reports.

    Thanks for the reminder, being in classes is a great luxury that each of us have at our disposal as administrators. I need to take advantage of that luxury more than I do.

    Cale

    December 13, 2010
    Reply
  12. Dwight Carter said:

    Dave,

    Thank you for sharing such a great idea! It’s more than just scheduling it, but documenting with pictures on Twitter makes it even more of an enjoyable experience. It became a digital story of your day. I will plan one as well. Thank you for the inspiration.

    Be Great,

    Dwight

    December 13, 2010
    Reply
  13. miss said:

    that was a fun journey–thanks for taking me along for a glimpse : ) !

    December 13, 2010
    Reply
  14. Michal said:

    I love that you did this. I’ve had many conversations with different administrators about how they miss the classroom and the experiences they would have with kids in them. I know admins get to interact with kids but as you said, it’s easy to get sucked into paperwork, in addition to constantly being called to deal with one thing or another. It’s great that you also got to spend some time playing outside with them – that’s one of my favourite things to do.
    Thanks for sharing your experience…and the photos!

    December 13, 2010
    Reply
  15. What a wonderful celebration of the work in your school!

    December 13, 2010
    Reply
  16. David Truss said:

    Here is a sagely comment left on my blog, where I cross-posted about my ‘No Office Day!’

    I think Bob’s comment will be appreciated by many who have already commented here:

    – – – – –

    Bob Cotter said:

    Quite fun wasn’t it. I remember when I was a full timer trying to break away from the demands of the day and the things that just popped up. Reading one email and that leading to another and another.

    The interesting thing is that now that I have retired and go into schools from time to time as a “Principal on Call” replacing someone away for day, gone to a conference, or ill things are different. Because it is not MY school, I get to do the above and deal “office-wise” with only difficult issues – and really, how many of those in a day are there?

    I do support your efforts to be out of the office for a day and I have another suggestion for principals who are in school districts where it may be possible for them to plan a swap day. Go to another school and be the principal of the day there. Watch teachers you may not know really well personally teach. Move from elementary to secondary or middle school or primary or however your district is organized. This will give you another opportunity to reconnect with your first love – teaching.

    Cheers… Bob

    – – – – –

    Thanks for all the great comments! I’m looking forward to Lyn’s post about her Grade-Level-Days, and I’m hoping that others will share their own #NoOfficeDay ‘stories’.

    December 13, 2010
    Reply
  17. Michael Clark said:

    Thanks for the inspiration tomorrow I’m having my first no office day!

    February 11, 2011
    Reply
  18. […] why do a no office day? Patrick Larkin said in the first comment of my post on Connected Principals: “…I think I need to schedule a no office day. Every time I visit classrooms, I am […]

    August 31, 2011
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