Day in and day out, school leaders are responsible for an overwhelming number of tasks. Planning the schedule, running assemblies, responding to medical emergencies, student discipline, staff evaluation, community outreach . . . the list goes on. However, research has repeatedly pointed to the importance of the principal as an instructional leader in the school (Cotton, 2003). In the midst of all of the administrative tasks on his or her plate, the principal cannot lose sight of the critical task of monitoring curriculum and instruction in the school.
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When we talk about visiting a classroom, it can be for a variety of purposes. Administrative visits to classrooms can range from short “check-ins” to see how teachers are doing that morning to formal evaluation observations lasting from thirty minutes to an hour.
If heading back into the school year is overwhelming, you are not alone. Even veteran administrators often struggle to keep up with the myriad of tasks that must be done as teachers return for preplanning and as students walk through the doors on the first day of a new school year.
While classroom walkthroughs are a popular way for school and district leaders to monitor and even evaluate instruction, they are not always effective (David, 2007). One of the main reasons that leaders do not always achieve the desired result is because the purpose for the walkthrough and the desired outcomes are nebulous. Walkthroughs often fall short of hitting the desired target because leaders have not taken the time to define the targets or how they will get there.