I have been very fortunate to have three of my assistant principals spend the past seven years with me. Recently one of my long-time assistants made the decision to change levels and move to middle school. Her desire is to be a middle school principal and when the opportunity arose to spend a year or two as a middle school assistant principal she thought gaining that experience would benefit her long-term professional goals. As much as I hated to see her leave I also think that gaining that middle school assistant principal experience would be beneficial in her quest to transition into the principal position.

I tell you this because one of the first things she wants to do at her new school is establish a solid observation and feedback process. She has experienced the benefits of an established walk-through and feedback process at a school. She has witnessed how a solid foundation for observing teachers and providing feedback regarding their performance can serve as a vehicle for so many initiatives. The seven years of conducting walk-throughs and engaging teachers in meaningful feedback and dialogue has impressed upon her the importance of getting into class rooms and participating in the business of school.

She and I sat down the other day to talk about templates and some of the things we might need to do to make sure she has everything she needs when she begins the walk-through process at her new school. We have always had great discussions about how much we enjoy getting out of the office and into class rooms. We also talk about how we are much more effective administrators as a result of the knowledge we gain when we visit with our teachers and watch them work with our students.

I think not only will the walk-through process afford her an opportunity to implement, monitor, and revise critical educational initiatives in her building it will also provide her with a unique opportunity to learn more about her new faculty. For me, visiting class rooms and talking with my teachers has been invaluable. The relationships with my teachers that have emerged and grown from this program are so important to my understanding of our school culture and what our teachers think about their work environment. I am very confident that she will experience these same benefits in her new building.

Understanding the learning environment in your class rooms is universal and is not dependent on the grade, the level, or the building. The more you know about what occurs in your class rooms the more understanding you will have about what it will take to continuously improve. Understanding the various perspectives of your teachers and how they feel about their school and their unique needs will also allow you as an administrator to serve your teachers more effectively.

Teachers are inherently nurturing people who often place others before themselves. When you as their administrator know and understand as much as you can about them, how they go about their days teaching students, and what you can offer them to make their days more fulfilling your students and your school will achieve. My assistant principal knows this. She has seen it in action and I am excited about the opportunity she has to share such a great program with a new staff and a new school.

If you find this information useful or if I can assist you with other educational endeavors please leave a comment or contact me directly at sean.kelly@douglas.k12.ga.us

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