I love it when I walk into a classroom and nothing happens.
When I walk into a classroom and the students continue working and the teacher continues teaching…I know I am doing an okay job. To me, it means that I am in the classroom enough that students do not even take notice when I am there. Actually, today when I was leaving a classroom, a little girl looked up at me and asked, “Hey, when did you get here!”
Spending time in the classroom is part of my job that I love. It is sometimes the most difficult but the most important part of my day. I observe students: students learning, students struggling, students laughing. I get to ask, “What are you learning about?” and “How can I help?” Being at my school for 5 years, I have the opportunity to watch students progress and grow. I recently observed a child successfully answer a math problem, when I remember working with that student in a math group a couple of years ago. Today I listened to a grade three student read a passage from a book well above a grade three level, and remembered working through a series of grade one sight words with that student just last year.
Being present in classrooms gives me the opportunity to help teachers. After I have spent some time in a classroom I find myself asking the teacher, “Explain to me what was happening before I walked in…” or “Where was this lesson leading to?” or even, “Have you considered…?” As I gain more experience with instructional coaching, I am becoming more confident in asking deeper and more meaningful questions. I am looking for more than, “is the classroom managed?” I attempt to give teachers immediate and meaningful feedback on what I see on a daily basis. There are so many amazing teachers in my building, I love telling them that! They also appreciate when I ask them questions for clarification or questions to consider…I think :) I also find myself sending them a link or copying an article that they might find interesting or practical.
I have done a lot of reading (books and blogs) about classroom observations and visits. I see this as an essential part of being an effective administrator. I will continue on this worthwhile path of being “invisible” when I walk into a room. My goal is to work on what happens after I leave the classroom, providing feedback and support to both teachers and students. A work in progress…