Paying a visit

Over the last few weeks, I decided to visit high school teachers individually to find out their candid opinions regarding two current issues in our school: how they felt about flex block and how it should be used, and how the late work policy was working for them.

Flex block is a one hour block on Friday afternoon where students can participate in an activity they choose from a list of offerings. Often assemblies, special guest speakers or sports events take precedence over flex block, and it is cancelled.

We do not penalize students’ grades for late submission of work. Instead, they have to send an email home to state that they have missed a deadline, and after 5 days they lose credit for that piece of work. This has led to an increase in late work, and the

But, as it turned out, this act of visiting every teacher, and having a 10 to 20 minute conversation not only made the issues clear, and gave me a solid path forwards, but provided so much value on several levels that I can see that I should try to do this as much as possible.

Through these visits it became clear to me that:

  • face to face, and one on one conversations have so much more power than a faculty meeting discussion, and obviously, email communications
  • holding a conversation with a teacher in their classroom is much more comfortable psychologically than in my office and I also had the opportunity to experience their classroom environment
  • teachers will buy into ideas if they feel like they have been heard
  • by just listening, and letting teachers talk, they feel valued  **and ** they have some fantastic ideas, such as
  • there is no “one size fits all” consequence for some issues. One teacher suggested that several kids need a mentor, with whom they should meet for 30 mins per week
  • lastly, I can learn so much from these visits: from teachers’ wisdom and insight, about what makes each of them “tick”, and I can gain a deeper insight into the school.

So, my vow is to continue this practice. Now the question is how often. I think I should set a professional goal for next year based on this.

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About eadurkin

Originally a HS Mathematics teacher from New Zealand, currently working as Associate Principal in the Secondary School at Canadian Academy, an international school in Kobe, Japan. Married with two children.
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