Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Are you a visitor in your own school?

Visitors to school can sometimes be a distraction followed by an annoying loss of time. This can easily be the perception, but often it is far from the truth. We have become so accustomed to our friendly visitors that the staff, children, school office, leadership team actually enjoy sharing, looking, watching and asking all sorts of questions. What I have realised is that it keeps me listening to staff, finding out what is happening with kids learning, watching children, gathering information about the way they learn, interacting, talking, everything actually. It has really helped me get to know so many kids.
I had a great moment the other day when a teacher came to me in the staffroom to explain a moment that happened in their class which related to some practice she is working on. The visitors coming through the school have enabled me to use them as a vehicle to continually see and talk about learning but more importantly for teachers to share their practice with outsiders. How many times have you walked into a classroom as a Principal and wanted to ask what are you doing? whats this guy up to? and any other question you want without feeling like you are threatening or digging for info.
I am always out talking to kids, but visitors give you some formality. The Board of Trustees of our school are on a learning curve to see if we can write an amazing charter in conjunction with staff and our community. We are visiting seven schools in Christchurch, for a good look around. Before we travelled I made them come on a "visitors tour" of our school. Luckily Shirley Temples cousin, Teresea from Palmerston North, was visiting that day with ex colleague Mary. So the BOT got a visit of their own school, with the whole Principal spiel, and the dig around go anywhere tour. My BOT were just so full of praise, they say they learnt so much, it was genuine. Has your BOT toured your school?
Have they been through all the rooms?
Have they seen and heard your vision in action?
Do you need visitors to get out and talk to kids, teachers?
Just take the time to be in rooms !
Just take time to talk with parents !
Just take time to talk to kids !
Now we are visitors. I am trying to behave like a good visitor. We are on tour. Must remember a good gift. Food is always appreciated.

I wanted to share this very quick answer from our parent survey. It warms your heart, well it warmed mine as much as Israel Daggs try.


TimesNewRoman said...

Well said Luke. I know that I certainly got a great deal from our visit that day and I have spoken to our cluster about both BOT visits and setting up a BOT wiki. Your BOT were clearly impressed by the school and had gained a better understanding about what teaching and learning LOOKS like every day as opposed to thinking only analytically about finances and furniture. It only took an hour to show them what being in a classroom today is really about. I bet your next BOT meeting had a very different slant to the discussions. I know the schools in our cluster were keen to do the same so I hope other schools take a leaf out of your book too.

Podgorani said...

It was a great day and we have followed this through, see the next post about "being on board".
Appreciate the feedback