NO. This one word reflection could definitively be the end of this post, but I will elaborate…
One of my teachers shared this article with me: Should Principals Stop Visiting Classrooms? I think the article got around to making some valid points, which sparked my reflection.
#1 Feedback This is a critical component of making classroom visits effective. I agree that many teachers may not perceive classroom visits as an opportunity for development; however, I think this should be a call to principals to make revisions to our processes of classroom visits, not scrap them.
#2 Relationships Feedback has the most value when there is a mutual relationship of respect, trust, and appreciation. Teachers who feel this may be more likely to view their principal as a colleague, making collaborative and candid discussion more comfortable. Collaborative and candid discussions are likely to lead to a sense of sincere care on behalf of the principal, creating a higher likelihood of feedback to be received constructively and positively by teachers.
#3 Climate A positive climate expedites genuine relationship building. Making the staff lounge a safe place to be and engage, conversations carrying on naturally despite the principal’s entrance, and trading greetings, smiles, and/or high fives as you walk past colleagues in the hallway are a nice foundation.
#4 Culture Creating a team-oriented culture of high expectations in which you need the expertise of those around you to succeed opens classroom doors, breaks down barriers, and fosters collaboration. Cancerous negativity has no choice but to recede, fertilizing the soil for a positive climate.
#5 Professional Common Sense Even humoring the suggestion for principals to stop visiting classrooms is an example of research and data getting out of hand. I don’t need someone to conduct a study to tell me whether or not I should make time to visit my classrooms. Culture, climate, relationships, and feedback start at the top. Principals can’t effectively lead teachers we don’t know. We can’t make decisions appropriate for a system we’re out of touch with. We can’t connect and have a feel for the pulse of our buildings by pinning ourselves in our offices. The only way to connect is to visit classrooms, observe the great things our teachers do, and engage with our kids.
As mentioned in #1, I agree that many teachers may not perceive classroom visits as an opportunity for development; however, I think this should be a call to principals to make revisions to our processes of classroom visits, not scrap them. I feel so strongly about this that I dedicate entire days, bell to bell, to simply visiting classrooms (#NoOfficeDay). I continue to focus on the steps above, working toward a goal of positively received and value-added classroom visits. There is no research, data, or article that will keep me from pursuing this in the interest of my staff and kids.
Please share with me your thoughts on making principal classroom visits productive for staff and kids.