Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Leaders, Go For A Walk... And Take Someone With You

Two of the most powerful, yet underutilized, tools an instructional leader possesses are observation and conversation.  On our campuses, only we (instructional leadership) have the opportunity to observe every facet of campus operations.  Everything... from morning intake to afternoon dismissal. Which includes, most importantly, classroom instruction.  We get to stand in the blind spot of the staff and really study the intricacies of instructional delivery and the complexities of the teacher/student relationship.  This is something that we could not do as teachers because when you are teaching... you are teaching.

We also possess to tool of conversation.  Conversation allows us to communicate, educate and motivate.  Yet too many of us waste our conversations with staff talking about the mundane (example, the weather) instead of the germane (teaching and learning).

Here is a simple and powerful way to do both.  When you (an instructional leader) are visiting classrooms, take a teacher with you.  All types of teachers... the superstar, the typical, and the struggling.

Visit a classroom with one of your superstar teachers and then step outside and talk about what the two of you observed.  Listen closely and pick the brain of the Superstar, you will learn something. Much like the coaches who are fortunate enough to coach someone like Larry Bird or Peyton Manning.

Visit a classroom with one of your typical teachers and then step outside and talk about what the two of you observed.  Listen closely and talk about any “missed opportunity” that was witnessed. Our typical teachers rarely do anything wrong. But they are so busy, they miss the opportunity to do something great. Seeing another teacher’s missed opportunity (not a critique) and then talking about it makes it less likely that the teacher will miss the same opportunity when it presents itself in her class. 

Visit a classroom with one of your struggling teachers and then step outside and talk about what the two of you observed.  It is one thing to discuss pedagogy in the training room.  It is something entirely different to observe live pedagogy.  Many of our struggling teachers know the words of practice, but they don’t have an appropriate visual model of those words.  The facilitated classroom visit can provide them with a model to better emulate.

The effectiveness of your staff and the performance of your campus can be significantly improved (over time) when you make better use of the PowerWalk and talk.

Think. Work. Achieve.
Your turn...

  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on!
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: Texas Association of Secondary School Principals Conference (Multiple Presentations); Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association Conference (Multiple Presentations); LYS / TASSP Advanced Leadership Academy (Keynote) 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

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