Thursday, November 12, 2009

Classroom Visits By The Principal

At our staff meeting today, our principal discussed what he's looking for when he visits classrooms. He was very insistent that he's not there to "evaluate" teachers.

Why not? What's the big deal? Even if he pops in on a bad day, it's still a bad day! One would think he wouldn't base his entire judgement of a teacher's abilities on one short visit, and until he does so, I'll trust him not to. So I thought it was odd that he kept reiterating that he wasn't in our classes to "evaluate" us.

But he did tell us what he's looking at, and looking for. He's not watching the teachers, he's watching the students. He wants to see how engaged they are in learning, how much time they're given to talk amongst themselves about what they've learned (instead of just hearing everything from the teacher), and how they're conducting that talking.

I guess it can't hurt.


Polski3 said...

ah yes, the newest, beautifullist word for administrators.....engagement. Our have a checklist they use; noting things of mega importance such as "if the standard is posted and written in a 'kid-friendly' manner," does the teachers seating chart note the GATE students, ELLers, and those with other special needs, is the teacher requiring students to answer in complete sentences.....the "list" goes on.

Darren said...

Allen left a comment here, but perhaps I hit the wrong button because I'm not seeing it. Allen, if you see this, please post again.

Anonymous said...

Polski, my district has a very similar checklist. it's very specific. they would like to see student work hung, but it only counts if it's inside your classroom, so don't bother posting it outside your door.


KauaiMark said...

"...He wants to see how engaged they are in learning, how much time they're given to talk amongst themselves about what they've learned"

And if they aren't engaged or given (how is this number calculated" enough time to talk? Who is responsible? Who's to blame?

Who, then, as a result is going to be ranked as an "effective teacher" against other classes that have better engagement results?

...just wondering

Anonymous said...

Must be a trend in admin. observations. I am experiencing the same thing at my site. The staff members I chat with are recieving negative feedback and this despite our school improving its AIP 20 points above our goal and improving test scores across each department. The team members I work with are bringing in 70%+ test averages and our methods are being questioned still. I find it annoying that you can improve so much and still be told you are not doing enough.

Darren said...

Our principal is new. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, assuming he's sincere, until he shows otherwise.

Ellen K said...

Having just been observed by my AP, there are several touchstones that are expected. First of all, we have to have the objective of the day posted. Secondly, since our classes are so long, we have to demonstrate that we break them up into sections. Thirdly, we must demonstrate that we use "technology" in some form. Finally, we must have the printed version of our online lesson plans, a seating chart and a list of key objective strategies. Now I feel really tired having written all that. The latest buzz is a new surveillance report called RtI which is jargon for "Response to Intervention." The idea is to catch kids before they qualify for special education. The implementation is just another layer of reports taken away from administration and laid at the doors of teachers. Because we don't have enough to do, evidently.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Can't remember what mystically-insightful comment I posted so I'll just throw out that it seems to me that the atmosphere in public education is starting to change and the assumption that this latest infatuation with testing and standards and alternative types of public schools and vouchers and all the rest of what, I'm sure, must seem like tedious rigmarole to long-serving professionals will also pass is starting to appear strained.

Therein lies the problem for district-based administrators.

Immersing themselves in the administrative minutia of public education, which is only tangentially related to actually educating kids, just isn't making it any more. They're starting to feel pressure to produce educational results and that's a situation which for many administrators is sufficiently novel that they simply don't know how to react. So they'll try just about anything including doing the equivalent of pulling up the tomato vine every five minutes to see how the roots are doing.

In a way I feel sorry for many of those administrators since, in terms of the true requirements of education, they're superfluous. But the public education system, in it's need to do something with all that tax money, has hired lots of superfluous functionaries who, now that the pressure's actually starting to ratchet up to produce educational results, are having to come to terms with the fact that they really have nothing of value to contribute.

Other administrators are trying to insert themselves into the educational process by inserting themselves into the classroom which, after all, is where education takes place. Trouble is, like pulling up the tomato vine every five minutes to see how the roots are doing they're not helping at all. Having no previous experience in running a school in which education is measured and required those principals have jumped to the erroneous conclusion that more administering is better administering and more administering proves their value. Wrong on both counts.

Darren said...

Back in the good ole days, when I worked in manufacturing, one of the fads that was present in industry came out of Hewlett Packard--MBWA, management by walking around. The idea was for managers to actually get away from their desks and walk around their operation, talking to people. They'd get a sense, unfiltered by layers of bureaucracy, of what was really going on in the facility. It had other, more intangible, benefits as well. As that was exactly how we'd done things in the army, it made perfect sense to me.

This strikes me as something similar.

luckeyfrog said...

I love RTI. It's a way to get services for the kids who need it but don't have- or maybe don't yet have- a diagnosis.

Course, we have a team that develops the plans and they're great about working with the teachers to make sure the plan is doable for them.