Monday, August 8, 2011

No Office Day


Recently, I came across this tweet in the land of tweets:


Apparently, there are a handful of administrators that are trying to organize a massive “No Office Day” in September. Now, I first read about this issue of no office days in a great post by Lyn Hilt. While she did not use the term no office day, it is certainly what she was doing. In her post she describes a day in which she spent her day in classrooms with a particular grade level. Having talked with Lyn since this post in December, I know this is something she has done more than once. A few others like David Truss and Dwight Carter have also written about their no office day experiences. However, Lyn's experiences strike me the most in the way she didn't just observe but actually took an active role in the learning and teaching in her building. 

Back to this idea of an organized no office day where administrators can “sign up”. Many folks may see this as a great initiative and we need to get a ton of administrators to sign up. However, I don’t really think this is something I would necessarily support. Now before, I go any further, I will admit that I am not an administrator and my viewpoint will surely be biased as a result. With that being said, here is why I have a tough time supporting this organized no office day.

First, isn’t this something administrators should be doing anyways? Shouldn’t they be in classes every chance they get and not sitting in their offices? If an administrator has to sign up for one day to step out of the office, there are more than likely bigger issues at play. Should we organize a “Good Teaching Day” for teachers who want to commit a day to being a good teacher? The thought is rather ridiculous and yet asking an administrator to sign up to be in classrooms with kids and teachers is just as bad. By signing up for the no office day, does that give administrators the green light to stay in their offices the other 179 days in the school year? I hope not.

The other problem I have with this organized no office day is the fact that on some level it is needed. While this might seem hypocritical in light of my first reason, it is true. Administrators are often over burdened with meetings, trainings, and meetings. They are pulled out of their building for a whole host of obligations that are aimed at making them better principals. However, it has been my experience with the administrators that I have worked with that these meetings do quite the opposite. They are often a waste of time with no direct connection to student learning and just pull them away from the students and staff they are supposed to be supporting. I blame central offices and district administrative centers for pulling administrators out of buildings and away from the real work they need to be doing.

Administrators are often the gate keepers to policies, budgets, scheduling, and many of the decision making that ultimately impacts students. It only makes sense that they spend as much time with the people their decisions affect as possible. Please do not feel the need for a formal no office day as an excuse to leave the office and spend time with the very kids and teachers they are meant to support. Spend time out of your office and in classrooms because it is the right thing to do.

Yes, the notion of a no office day is a fantastic one that I would encourage all administrators to do. However, don’t sign up and commit yourself to a day. Commit yourself every day. Ask your secretary to put an hour a day on your schedule to be in classrooms. Don’t just walk through either. Teach a lesson. Work with students on a project. Get your hands dirty. Do whatever you can do to be in classrooms supporting the work your students and teachers are doing every day. 
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