Sunday, March 9, 2014

Making Minutes Count

The following tweet gave me the inspiration for this post:
Jamie Wright @misswright06
you know you work in an awesome district when you have your post-conference via google hangouts. #rvlsd

Teacher evaluations take time. Lots and lots of time. Complaining about it doesn't help. Working harder doesn't help. Working longer and harder leads to even more complaining.
I have been out of the building this year more than at any other time in 17 years of education. I suppose it really can't be helped. So many initiatives are going on that mandate you attend meetings. So much is happening in curriculum and instruction that you need to attend workshops and trainings or risk being left in the dark on important educational topics that will have a big impact on students and staff.
By necessity I have been using every minute I can grab just to keep my head above water. For example, I had just finished an evaluation rubric of a teacher and when I recently went to work extra early I happened to find that teacher had also come into work extra early. He agreed to meet with me then and there and I was able to gain a valuable time slot in my busy calendar. Lesson learned? Don't be afraid to ask teachers to meet with you outside of contract time. They may be just as appreciative as you and it shows everyone just how much we value the coaching process.
I double dip. When in a classroom that uses a co-teacher, I observe and take walk-through notes on both of them.
I also have staff members who are very comfortable using technology and web2.0 tools. Sometimes when I revert to "the old ways" they will chide me and question my sanity. Having just completed an evaluation rubric on a Sunday afternoon, I took the chance of conducting a post-conference via Google hangout. A quick text to the teacher confirmed she was more than willing to do so. I scanned all of the evidence and documents she would need on her end and scheduled the hangout shortly after. Once we connected, we did a quick video and audio check and then followed the exact same procedures as if she were sitting right next to me. Lesson learned? Don't be afraid to think outside the box because someone may already be out there needing someone to collaborate with.
As a side note, the teacher thought the experience would have been "neat" if other teachers could sit in on a conference and learn from the dialogue. This tells me that this was a great coaching conference and less evaluative. NLHS principal Bobby Dodd blogs about a similar topic here.
 As my teacher was thinking that, I was thinking that it would be neat to have other administrators, especially new ones, join in the hangout to also learn from the exchange.
Everyone gets the same 60 minutes in an hour. How are you using yours?