You ever get that feeling of accomplishment when someone of authority or someone who is considered an expert in the field affirms what you already believe? Well, I had that opportunity at the GAEL conference recently. GAEL (Georgia Association of Educational Leaders) is Georgia’s professional organization for Educational Leaders, and their annual conference each summer often draws the most well respected educators in and around the State. This summer over 1200 educational leaders from Georgia gathered on Jekyll Island to listen, learn, and experience educational leadership.

The GAEL conference is known for having keynote presentations during the general sessions of the conference from some of the most well respected educational leaders in the State of Georgia and the United States. This year I had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Allene Magill, a veteran educator of over 33 years. She has served as a para-professional, classroom teacher, building level administrator, and superintendent. Dr. Magill currently serves as the Executive Director of PAGE, The Professional Association of Georgia Educators. She speaks to many different groups and educational organizations regarding the latest educational issues. PAGE currently has over 84,000 members and as a representative of such a vast amount of educators, when Dr. Magill speaks, people often listen.

“Dr. Magill mentioned that educational leaders need to visit classrooms and become aware of what teachers need to be successful. When I heard those words I thought, “Man, what a great endorsement of what I believe”.”

Dr. Magill’s keynote address covered some of the most pressing educational issues that Georgia faces today. She discussed the current state of affairs regarding the funding of public education, legislative affairs, teacher preparation, teacher evaluation, professional learning, and the overall responsibilities of educational leaders. Her words regarding these subjects were very interesting and inspiring. But her words regarding professional learning and providing opportunities for teachers to learn and grow professionally is what made me sit up and move to the edge of my seat. During her comments regarding educational leaders promoting and providing professional learning opportunities, Dr. Magill mentioned that educational leaders need to visit classrooms and become aware of what teachers need to be successful. When I heard those words I thought “Man, what a great endorsement of what I believe”.

I have been visiting classrooms for years because I truly believe that educational leaders cannot transform their school until they become knowledgeable of their school. To be knowledgeable of our schools, we must get out of our office and participate in the learning experience. To hear Dr. Magill speak of the importance of classroom visits made me proud. I must admit, hearing such a high caliber educational expert speak of a practice that I truly believe in was validating for me. I think everyone wants to feel that what they do has value, and when someone who is well respected in the field affirms the value of that thing we do, it makes a difference. It certainly did for me.

If you do not already find ways to get into classrooms and observe the great things your teachers and students are doing, I encourage you to start. You do not have to become an observation addict right away; start slow. Maybe visit one or two classrooms a week and just observe. It is amazing at what you will see and how much you will learn about your school and those who walk through your doors every day.

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