When I was a new principal, I spent a lot of time and effort figuring out how I wanted to do walkthroughs.
I knew I wanted to visit classrooms, but…
- what app should I use?
- How should my form look?
- How should I structure my feedback?
Those may be important issues…but first things first.
I was missing a more fundamental question: How often was I visiting each teacher?
After all, I tried to visit classrooms every day. Rarely (I thought) did a day go by when I wasn't spending time in classrooms.
Then I decided to check my records.
In reality, I was systematically over-visiting the “easy” classrooms:
- The classrooms closest to the office
- The classrooms where I felt most welcome
- The classrooms where I was unlikely to see anything troubling
And I was unintentionally avoiding the “tough” classrooms:
- Teachers with performance issues
- Teachers who didn't especially want me in their rooms
- Teachers who had unusual schedules or physically isolated classrooms
Never did I sit down and say to myself “I really want to get into classrooms this year, but only certain classrooms. I think I'll just visit the most pleasant and most convenient classrooms, and avoid any that might be a hassle or give me extra work to do.”
That wasn't my intent at all, but the outcome was the same: Some teachers saw me almost every week, while others went weeks or even months without a visit.
This pattern of avoidance is completely natural, so if you've been doing the same thing, don't feel bad. We all do it.
And the remedy is simple: start keeping track.
3 Tools for Tracking Visits
Here are three simple options—it doesn't matter which one you use; what matters is that you use something, and start keeping track, to push back against your natural tendency to avoid certain classrooms.
The simplest way to track your visits is to just print a staff list—you probably already have one handy, so get a fresh copy and start recording your visits.
For now, just put the date (and perhaps the time of day) by each teacher's name when you visit.
This isn't an especially good way to track your visits long-term, but it'll get you started.
If you want to prompt yourself to visit teachers in a certain order, you might consider one of the other options.
Set A Goal
We all want to be in classrooms “as much as possible.” That's not specific enough to guide your choices on a daily basis.
Life will get in the way. People will call you back to the office. Your schedule will fill with other meetings.
If you want to get into classrooms, be intentional. Set a specific goal that you can fight to achieve every day.
So here's my recommendation: strive to get into every classroom within a week—the first week of school, or the first week after you're reading this. It doesn't matter whether school is just starting, you're halfway through the year, or it's almost over.
Just start. Get into classrooms. Keep track.
And when you've made it around to everyone, I have something special for you:
Visit every teacher in your school, and I'll send you a limited-edition #EveryClassroom sticker while supplies last.