I want to challenge you to get into 500 classrooms this year.
Now, I don't mean that I want you to try to get into 500 classrooms. Everyone tries.
Trying doesn't count.
Trying might get you a thumbs up from anyone who notices, but it doesn't produce results for students.
I want to challenge you to develop a plan to make 500 classroom visits this year.
And then implement that plan. Hard.
If you'd like a solid plan…good news. I've made one for you. It's called the Instructional Leadership Challenge.
More than 10,000 people have gone through the Challenge. But many have put off actually implementing the practice of visiting 3 classrooms a day.
Don't put it off any longer. Make this the year you get into classrooms 500 times.
If you're in…tweet at me (@eduleadership) with the hashtag #500c.
The “Master Yoda” Plan for Getting Into Classrooms
Here's the “Master Yoda” plan. Don't try it—do it. It's simple but powerful:
- Schedule 5+ timeslots a day to visit classrooms.
- If you're in a secondary school, schedule at least one per period
- Schedule a few extras if you get interrupted a lot. For example, if you know you'll get interrupted 50% of the time, schedule 6 visits so you can actually do 3.
- Put these specific times on your calendar, and let NOTHING short of a real “fire alarm” emergency keep you from visiting classrooms when your calendar says it's time.
- Make a list (in Repertoire or on a stack of index cards) of all your teachers, and visit them in rotation—3 a day—at the scheduled times.
- Visit—unannounced—for ~10 minutes, and take low-inference notes (no checklists or forms!)
- Don't worry about collecting data or coming up with suggestions for improvement.
- Share your notes with the teacher immediately, ideally via email.
- Talk face-to-face, on the spot or as soon as possible thereafter (within 24 hours). Here are 10 great evidence-based questions to ask.
- Do this EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Not once a week, or when “time allows.” Every day.
- Repeat until you've been around to every teacher (this should take about 10 days, or two weeks).
- Repeat the entire cycle all year, so you get around to every teacher every two weeks (about 18x/year)
That's it. Make it happen.
Now, there are a few more details to getting started—and I've laid them all out in a proven plan of three cycles in the Instructional Leadership Challenge.
I've also provided a PDF of notecard templates that you can print on cardstock to track your visits.
Decisional Information and Stronger Relationships
If you do, you'll have vastly more information with which to make better decisions as a leader.
You'll know your teachers and what they need, and where you can do a more effective job of supporting your students.
You'll have vastly more context for your teacher evaluations.
And you'll have much stronger relationships with your teachers—instead of seeing them mostly in staff meetings and the copy room, you'll see them mostly in their own classrooms, doing what they do best.
Do, or do not. There is no try.
Now, I have a goal: 1,000,000 visits. This year. It's ambitious, but doable. We just need 2,000 instructional leaders to visit 500 classrooms (tweet with the hashtag #500c if you're in) this year, and the goal will become a reality.
500 classrooms. 3 or so a day. You can do it. Let me know how I can help.
Note: I've made an app called Repertoire that makes this very, very easy (and you can email or copy your notes into another evaluation system if you'd like).