Out of my office

My use of Twitter throughout my day has indeed increased, but Sunday afternoon I learned I still have progress to make trying to listen to a fantastic Keynote and Tweet at the same time. RT was indeed my friend as I listened and connected with the words of Chris Lehmann at the ISTE Leadership Forum (#ISTELF12) in Indianapolis. Steven W. Anderson wrote a thoughtful reflection of Lehman’s words; I appreciated reading this as I continue to think through my experience and what it means for me and for my school and district. A couple of Lehmann’s points emphasized sharing ideas and modeling learning as leaders, which I wrote about yesterday.

Stressing that technology should not isolate us, Lehmann talked about technology allowing him to do his work in places outside of his office. A seemingly simple idea really resonated with me as I thought back to countless times where I’ve said, “I need to do (fill in the blank) really quick, and then I would like to get out in the building.” More often than not ‘really quick’ takes more time than I thought or something else arises, and I’ve lost valuable time with my students and staff during the school day. And I don’t feel good about that at all. So Wednesday when I returned to school and found a folder full of items needing my signature, I took that folder and my computer and headed to one of our flexible learning spaces to take care of those tasks that I really didn’t need to do in isolation. In a matter of 20 minutes, I accomplished the work I needed to and interacted with 4 classrooms of students and multiple staff members; that couldn’t have happened in my office. As I write parts of this, I’m in a different part of my school where I can see a parent volunteer with a small group and two instructional assistants supporting literacy groups.

Beyond the scope of that keynote, there has been considerable dialogue on Twitter about #NoOfficeDay ranging from thoughts that it is important to spend time with students and teachers to concerns that it implies that principals generally DO spend their time in their office. You can read more about that here. Additionally, the role and practice of principals has also been widely discussed and debated in social media, like here and here in the blog of teacher Josh Stumpenhorst. All of this has has prompted much thought over time as I’m in my second year as a building principal. I think back to my time as a junior high Assistant Principal when my administrative team scheduled ‘Instructional Time’ where we blocked out hours during the week where our goal was to be involved in classrooms rather than in the office. While this was essentially ‘no office’ time, we framed it as instructional time to put the focus on what we were doing rather than what we were avoiding. Josh’s posts also bring out the perceptions that exist about our work as building leaders. Taking my work out into the building this week beyond arrival/dismissal, birthday sticker deliveries, classroom visits or teacher observations has prompted some looks and some questions, resulting in some thoughtful conversations with staff. As I seek to enrich my school community and move us forward, I need to be with my students and staff and ‘care for’ them as Chris Lehmann said. I see many of my principal counterparts in my PLN seeking ways to do the same.

How do you engage with your students and staff during the school day? What actions positively impacted how your role is perceived in your school? How are you still challenged in this regard?

2 thoughts on “Out of my office

  1. jimmycasas

    Kathleen,
    So ironic you wrote this post. My building is currently under renovation and I am working out of a conference room in the guidance area in a back hallway. I have been there since August and have never felt so isolated. So, I have done my best to avoid my “office” as much as possible. I have seen the posts on no office days as well as P’s setting up their offices in the main entrance etc. With access to wireless, there is no reason why I cannot do my work from anywhere in the building. On Thursday night I decided to set up a temporary desk in the main hallway in the school for Parent Conferences. I was so glad I did. I loved the interaction and the countless of engaging conversations I had with parents. Parents did not hesitate to say hello, ask a question, or thank me for being available to answer their questions. It was something so simple, but so powerful. In fact, it energized me. Thank you for sharing your message. I am sorry I missed you at ISTE in Indianapolis.

  2. Curt Rees

    Kathy,

    I just did this yesterday morning. I had a bunch of school requisitions to write and bills to pay, so I loaded up my papers and lap top and then hunkered down in the back of one of my 5th grade classrooms. I told the kids and teacher exactly what I was up to and they happily made a spot for me. I got my stuff done, but also was able to see what was going on in this class. Thanks for the post and the motivation to vacate the office more frequently.

    Curt

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