After reading Kim Marshall’s book Rethinking Teacher Supervision and Evaluation, it’s clear that administrators need to be in as many classrooms as possible every. To get a clear picture of what goes on in the classroom, Marshall recommends that building principals should be in every teacher’s classroom at least once every two weeks.
Marshall says, “Talking to teachers about the teaching and learning that’s going on in their classrooms is the heart and soul of instructional leadership. There’s nothing more productive and satisfying than being in classrooms and talking to colleagues about teaching and learning. This is the work!”
Marshall’s system is really simple:
!. Observe each teacher at least once every two weeks.
2. Have an informal conversation with the teacher to discuss the observation. Find out the context, learn about what’s going on in class, ask questions, and offer suggestions.
3. Document the observation and conversation with a follow-up email.
That makes sense and seems easy to do, but like many things I’ve discovered in my first year as an assistant principal, life happens during the school day, and without a plan, informal observations and classroom visits rapidly get moved down the priority list. If I’m not careful, I’ll get busy and go a day or two without being in one single classroom! If I believe observations are the most important thing I can do, then I must make them a priority.
To help keep me on track, every two weeks I create an Evernote note for an informal observation cycle, and I put the note at the top of my shortcuts list. In my note I list all of our teachers and provide three checkboxes in front of their names. As I visit a classroom (O), follow-up with a conversation (C), and document the observation (D), I check the boxes. I also put the class period I visited just to make sure I vary the classes I observe.
This checklist really holds me accountable, and even though I may not get to every classroom in an observation cycle, I am able to see the cold-hard facts of how often I am observing classrooms. It also shows me in black-and-white the classrooms I frequently visit and the ones I don’t.
I’m still learning this whole administration thing and having a checklist has really helped me so far!
In my next post, I’ll share how I use Evernote to document a classroom observation.
How might a recurring checklist like this be helpful for you? Share your idea below and help out another educator.