I was perusing through one of my LinkedIn discussion groups and came across an article authored by Mr. Henry Gray. The article is entitled Ask for Help. I included the first two paragraphs of Mr. Gray’s article as I thought it provided some insight as to the many opportunities offered through class room visits and eWalk.

“One of the strongest attributes of the teaching profession is that of ‘fraternity’. Collegiality and sharing are elements of that togetherness. Unlike some occupations in which people feel they have to sit on problems or challenges and muddle through, teaching invites those with questions to seek assistance in finding answers. This does not mean teachers should not have a go, but rather that they seek support to help in reaching satisfactory outcomes.”

“This might include asking for clarification when a particular theory or teaching practice is not fully understood. It could be that teachers are struggling with classroom management, that discipline policies need explaining; a myriad of issues may press upon the teacher’s mind. They will remain there unless help is sought or given.”

Mr. Gray’s article focused on the importance of sharing ideas and strategies for the betterment of fellow teachers and the teaching profession. Teachers should not anguish through troubles that are so often strengths of others in their building. Mr. Gray speaks of help being sought or given. Teachers often will not ask for help as they perceive asking for help to be a sign of weakness or inability in their teaching. What a great opportunity it would be if we (observers) could eliminate this burden and provide teachers with opportunities that did not require them to ask others for help. What if the help just appeared?

Classroom walkthroughs allow administrators or any observer to assist teachers early in the year or early in their career before challenges become overwhelming. Visiting teachers in their own class room teaching in the learning environment they created provide multiple opportunities to offer assistance. Observers can make subtle suggestions to the teacher based upon real-time data collected during the class room visit. Providing feedback to teachers through the eWalk platform provides teachers with a safe and secure method of communication. The web-based templates and email capabilities offered through eWalk are far less intimidating for teachers than to have to sit down in an administrator’s office and speak face-to-face.

Having a well-organized and holistic observation program also supports teachers through awareness of who the experts are in the school. Repeatedly visiting all class rooms in my school allows me to identify experts in the various aspects of class room instruction. When I identify a need for a teacher I can pair that teacher with someone in the building that is an expert in that specific area. This pairing allows for positive working relationships to form and collegial working environments to flourish. These relationships build trust among the faculty and a collaborative culture becomes stronger in the building. Eventually, teachers will work together more often decreasing the incidences of teachers needing to ask for help. The goal is for help to already be in place.

Creating a positive work environment is complex. Any opportunity to remove barriers and promote teacher effectiveness is a worthwhile endeavor. Removing the anxiety experienced by teachers when they are struggling and need assistance provides opportunities for teachers to be successful and build confidence. Confident teachers are more effective resulting in student success. Happy teachers result in happy students resulting in a more positive learning environment for everyone.
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