One Sunflower

cuppa Joe

on November 21, 2010

My principal popped into my room on November 10th – something he’s been doing – and has been committed to doing – for the past month. It began with a meeting in October to determine what I wanted to pay attention to, then working side by side with him to name what I wanted him to look for and what the evidence of that work would look like and sound like in me and in my students.  And so Mr. D has been coming into my room or the lunch room to be with me and my students in the work off and on for the last 4 weeks.  When we set up this plan, I wasn’t very confident about seeing him in my room that often – because I know he is also trying to visit every other classroom on a regular basis as well!   But it’s been happening and I’m so grateful.

He stopped by on the Monday after the long weekend and asked if I had a moment to debrief his latest observation.  Even though it had been 5 days since his visit, his notes helped refresh my memory of exactly what had been happening in the classroom,  what the kids and I were doing together, what kinds of dialogue was happening, what sorts of management was going on.  Reviewing it all was like video playback in my mind! He had questions about my decision-making and planning around the types of supports I was giving or not giving and I had questions about whether the tool we’d come up with for doing observations was useful.

As usual, our conversation explored tangential areas – classroom management, student independence, language development, the condition of materials in my classroom – it was all good stuff to think and talk about and it really only took a few moments.

I know that for some folks, a classroom visit by their principal is anticipated about as much as a bout of the flu.  For me, having someone sitting in a corner of my classroom listening and watching heightens my awareness of what is happening around me and sharpens my instincts. And grabbing a moment to talk about it afterward is like a “shot of Joe,”  a warm mug of the good stuff!

I realized that I feel honored to have a professional colleague spending time in my classroom helping me pay attention to what is important!

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2 responses to “cuppa Joe

  1. Chris Bowen says:

    You’re lucky to have such a supportive administrator. One of my first administrators worked this way with me one year. That year made me a much better teacher. It’s all in the presentation. If administrators view classroom visits as a way to bring about punitive measures, very little real work or learning will happen. If a class visitation can be honestly seen as a true collaboration, real change and better teaching is the result. It’s the same when working with the kids. Thanks for sharing.

    Chris Bowen
    Author of, “Our Kids: Building Relationships in the Classroom”

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