Get Your 10,000 Steps at Work
Duke School, where I was head for 14 years, had about 500 students. When I was Head, I vowed to see every teacher teach three times a week. No, that is not a typo, I saw every teacher ply their craft 3x a week.
While this sounds hard to do, it really was not. First, the visits were short, two minutes or less. I was noticed but I did not disturb anything. Pretty quickly, my visits became like wallpaper. “Oh it's him again.” With about 40 classrooms and an average visit time of 90 seconds, the exercise took about an hour.
Second, my visits were not the least bit evaluative. I just wanted to see people in their classrooms and know what was happening at the school. It strikes me that dedicating three hours a week to have a snapshot of the entire school was worth it.
I know many leaders will say they don’t have the time working on so many other projects. I will admit that my undiagnosed ADHD helped in this regard. I did not have the attention span to focus on large projects for hours at a time. So when I wanted a break, I would wander around the school. I would also be cognizant of doing such wandering at different times so I could see different teachers including special teachers.
The advantages of these meanderings were many. First, I could see the developmental span clearly and could sense whether the curriculum was spiraling appropriately. Second, it always gave me stories to share with parents, visitors and prospective donors. Third, it helped me earn the 10,000 steps I try to get every day.
Most importantly, I looked like a leader who was engaged in the core business--education. I was seen, and by being seen, it was assumed that I cared. (And I did care.)
In my coaching work, I cannot tell you how many times I hear that a certain administrator has never been in my classroom and has never seen me teach. These teachers feel devalued which leads them to be dispirited.
We have long heard about management by wandering around; I, for one, am a fan.