RENEW
Apr 11, 2013

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Walk Throughs and Pop-Ins: Dealing With Impromptu Visits by Administration

Imagine you’re in the middle of teaching your students how to choose the correct type and size of brush for painting their clay project and in walks your administrator. She sits down, opens her iPad, smiles at you, and begins typing.

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This situation happened to me a month ago. My administrators are very busy people. Between meetings, scheduling, behavior issues, and paperwork, they lack the amount of time needed to observe teachers more frequently. So when one of them walks into my classroom, sits down, and evaluates me, I find myself questioning the motivation for their visit, reminding myself to stay calm, and remembering to keep calm and pretend it’s on the lesson plan.

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Here are some tips to help you through unexpected evaluations

 

  1. Remain Calm: Having administrators stop in your classroom is an excellent opportunity to advocate for your program. You’re doing an excellent job, and this is your time to prove it!
  2. Think Positive: Often our first instinct is to get defensive and assume the worst. Refrain from feeling this way and stay positive. Use this time to show student learning in your classroom.
  3. Involve Them in Your Lesson: Pretend as if you intended for them to walk in. You have two choices. Continue and act as if they aren’t there or involve them in the lesson plan. I remember an administrator observing me during a graffiti lesson. I incorporated them into the lesson by explaining how she feels when she finds graffiti around the school.
  4. Keep All Documentation: Remember how I said my administrator sat down and started typing? She was filling out an evaluation form which was sent to me the next day via e-mail. I have a file folder in my e-mail where I keep important documents. I also make a quick note in my plan book documenting when my administrators visit. Keep track of visits, you never know when you will need this information.
  5. Send a Follow-Up email: After the observation, send an e-mail thanking your administrator for stopping by your classroom. Inform them of exciting projects coming up and invite them to stop by again soon.
  6. Ask to schedule a meeting to review their visit: Don’t hesitate to ask for a meeting with your administrator to review their impromptu visit, especially if you felt it didn’t go as well as you would have liked. Use this time to ask for constructive feedback and ask for their guidance and support.

What other tips do you have for handling impromptu visits from administration?

How often do your administrators stop by your classroom?

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  • RWS

    It’s uncanny how your blog pinpoints exactly what is happening in my own classroom!

    I had an impromptu observation last week, during my craziest class (!) but luckily everyone was immersed in their project, which was a tricky low-relief multi-figure collage, which gets glued down and then has tissue paper glued on top and then rubbed with metallic crayon…WAY above their pay grade, but they were working through it. I had no choice but to greet and ignore my administrator, because my assistance was needed by the students. I got a brief but very nice email letting me know that she had observed that the students were all working hard and that I was assisting the students and giving precise instructions. Then she thanked me for all I do for the students! I really appreciated the email. I notice that the kids tend to step up to the plate when an administrator comes to visit…not because they want to make me look good, but for themselves!

    The big evaluation is next week and I’ve had to hand in lesson plans, fill in forms and schedule pre and post observation meetings. Having it toward the end of the year is great for me because I’m a new teacher and still getting the handle on classroom management.