How does a school leader know what staff and students need in order to continually improve? Two words…be everywhere. Simple, right? Of course, this sounds simpler than it actually is. My goal each school day is to be in as many places as possible throughout the day, and I have made a couple choices that help me in this pursuit.
Like any other school leader, I have plenty of work to do in my office. It would be easy to settle in to a comfy chair and pound some of it out. To counter that possible roadblock, I have a standing desk. It is not because I want to burn more calories, although that is a nice side benefit! My standing desk helps by:
- Making sure I am not comfy and cozy when I am in my office.
- Keeping me in constant motion, which means I will be in more places throughout the school day.
- Communicating a team culture with students, staff and parents because I do not sit across my desk from them. Instead, we pull up chairs to a table, which feels so much more like a team.
I spend much of my time doing observations and collaborating with teachers, and that gets me out and about for a good portion of each day. When I need to get email answered or other things completed, I have a mobile office that can be transported into any location…in the form of a laptop computer. I can work in any classroom, in the hallway, or even on the playground. Sometimes I work in the office, but in the main part of the office rather than back in my office. I may look like an odd duck, but it allows me to be a part of the heart and soul of the school even when working on my computer. Some of the benefits I have experienced are:
- Watching how students interact in various situations. I watch them learn, move through the hall, play on the playground, and converse in the lunch room. This helps me understand our school culture, the character of our students, and how they feel about school and each other.
- Serving teachers by knowing them and knowing what and how students are learning. This enriches discussions I have with teachers and allows me to represent them well within the district, the ISD and the state.
I am in the second year of my current position, and I have to admit that I freaked teachers out a bit when I first started last year. They are used to my strange approach now, but a word of caution that it does take some time for them to get used to a leader attempting to be everywhere. I definitely am a work in progress and I am not yet everywhere. I appreciate the constant visual reminder of my standing desk as I model continuous improvement.