Where to Show Up and What to Do
The following is an excerpt of a chapter from Jon Saphier's forthcoming book on High Expertise Teaching and how to get more of it in more places, more of the time. Due out in 2023. Learn More
How would we design the Expectations for how principals spend their time if we wanted that process to increase teachers' knowledge and skill at High Expertise Teaching?
Most everyone who writes about effective principals says they should be out of their offices and visible in the school. But what should they do while they are out there?
In this chapter we focus on a principal’s daily activities and their potential for having a direct impact on improving teaching. Imagine if we shadowed a principal who was dedicated to the High Expertise Teaching mission of this book. Where would she go and what would she do in these places? She may not go to all these places even if we shadow her for a long time. It would be a lot to ask. But an ever-increasing pattern of being active in a positive way at these sites is part of the profile of a leader who improves instruction.
The daily routines of successful school-based leaders trace a path of influence on teaching and learning if we follow them about. Principals can have a positive impact on the improvement of classroom teaching and learning by showing up in at least 12 different places. Each is a lever of influence on teaching skill if the leader sets a tone for learning rather than for evaluation and oversight and acts skillfully when there.
Places for a Principal to Show Up to Influence Teacher Capacity
- Building Instructional Leadership Team composition and focus
- Common Planning Time (CPT) Teams
- Relationship and Interactions with Instructional Coach
- Student by student accountability talks
- Supporting building based study groups
- Arranging public teaching
- Frequent classroom visits and Hall-Wall availability
- Walkthroughs and Learning Walks
- Teacher Evaluations Observations and Feedback
- Planning and Goal-Setting Conferences
- Short, Frequent Evidence-Based Observations
- Planning and Leading Faculty Meetings
These 12 places comprise quite an itinerary. No one can hit all 12 islands in this archipelago in one day or even one week. But each of us can start by adding one to our schedule if we want to magnify our influence on good teaching. What would be the one best island to add to your cruise if you were to pick one?
I believe the term “instructional leader” means shepherding all the building based processes that impact or have the potential to impact teacher knowledge and skill. That is what the “12 places” are – particular kinds of events where how the process is handled by the leader can have profound impact.