Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The 500 Classroom Challenge

The first year of a principalship at a new school can be incredibly challenging.  It is almost as if you are jumping onto a fast-moving train that can't be stopped.  As a principal, I feel an incredible sense of urgency knowing that the work we do in schools can impact students (both in a positive and negative way).  There is no time to stop the train when you are considering the limited amount of time we actually have with students.  Not a minute can be wasted.  I've learned that new principals have to roll up their sleeves and jump right in.  It is our responsibility to simultaneously learn about the school's practices and cultures while looking for opportunities for improvement.  It is a delicate task that can't be taken lightly.  So where do we begin?

I've decided to kick off the year by taking the 500 Classroom Challenge proposed by Justin Baeder at The Principal Center.  He firmly believes in the impact principals can make when we root our work in habits that allow us to be the instructional leaders we all hoped we'd be.  The first step in being an instructional leader is actually getting into classrooms.  Justin is pretty straight-forward when he says we need to give up trying to get into classrooms, and actually make it happen.  By getting into classrooms we are better equipped to providing meaningful feedback to teachers that has true potential in impacting student learning  Beyond feedback, our classroom visits will also allow us to have access to information that can assist us questions or problems that come up throughout the day.  We become "in the know."

Justin offers a number of practical tips that will help us get into classrooms more often We've all heard over and over that one of the keys to goal setting is sharing your goals with others to give us a sense of accountability.  It is incredibly motivating to know that others around you know that you are on a journey.  It is easy to let yourself down, but letting others down is a little bit more difficult.  So, I've made it a point to share this goal with staff by sending out the following e-mail at the start of the year:

Good morning,

I wanted to share with everyone that I've accepted the 21 Day Instructional Leadership Challenge.  This challenge, promoted by The Principal Center, is intended for me to keep the "Instructional Leadership" portion of my job at the forefront.  As a part of this challenge, I will be visiting a number of classrooms each day with the hopes of visiting 500 classrooms by the end of the school year (doesn't sound too bad, right?).  When I come in, I'll be providing you with feedback through e-mail which, for the most part, will include things I've noticed and perhaps a question or two.  I'd like to be as transparent in this process as possible, with no hidden agenda.  Just as you are working on providing meaningful feedback to your students, I'd like to do the same with you.  If you ever have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to stop by.

Have a great day! 

However, I know that I can't stop there.  I've spoken with my school's director about this goal and asked him to help keep me focused on it during my weekly meetings with him and, as of this morning, I've officially let the parent community know I've taken part in this challenge as well.  I'm very honest with everyone and communicate that this is a lofty goal and I ask them for their support.  I told parents this morning to stop me next time they see me and ask me, "hey, how's that 500 classroom challenge going?"


It is no secret that I can be a bit competitive.  I don't like loosing, and I especially don't like loosing when I know I have a children's' educational experience at stake.  I truly believe that this challenge, with the support of those around me (including Justin's), will motivate me to do what I need to be doing every day at school.  Perhaps the challenge will work for you?

It's time for me to get into a classroom!


1 comment:

  1. These are two powerful things to do when you begin a habit; announce it publicly and enlist someone who will help hold you accountable! Kudos to you and your students!

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