Successful leadership doesn’t happen from the confines of an office or from behind a desk. I tell folks all the time that the most impactful leadership in school divisions rests in the hands of our teachers, the professionals who work directly with students every day. This belief is one of the major motivations behind the formal teacher-leadership program that will begin in Goochland with the opening of the 2013-14 school year. You can read more about that HERE.
But this post isn’t about teacher-leadership. It’s about administrative leadership; specifically, the profound importance of visibility. While most of us in these administrative roles spend very little time behind our desks, if we’re not visible – present in our schools – we may as well be (at least in some respects).
All education professionals – teachers, administrators, support staff – are pulled in many directions, often simultaneously. It’s our collective responsibility to ensure the primary source of that gravity is always our students.
As a division leadership team, I believe we’ve made great strides in developing a greater presence in our schools and in our community. Our instructional team has conducted a half dozen “rounds” so far this year – the motivation simply being to connect with everyone everywhere in our division. You can read more about that effort HERE. Dr. Lane has established quarterly “data walks” in each of our schools, a cornerstone being maintaining a presence in our classrooms.
These are examples of formal, structured visibility. Informal presence is equally important, likely more.
The educational research surrounding evaluation, professional growth, and continuous improvement always points to one common denominator: relationships. Without strong relationships among teachers, between teachers and principals, and between school staff and division staff, professional growth stagnates.
I’m reminded again about how visibility plays a tremendous role in these relationships. What does administrative presence say about what we value? And even if it isn’t always a fair representation of what we value, how is it perceived by others? Those are two questions that challenge even the most present school leaders – in the most progressive school divisions.
Here’s an accessible way to think about it:
I want my calendar to reflect the unquestionable importance I put on students, teachers, and the amazing work that happens every day in our classrooms. And I’ve taken the first steps in making that happen. Ten percent of my 2013-14 calendar is already scheduled: informal presence … in our schools … in our classrooms … every week.