This post is the first in a series of blog posts authored by winners and finalists of the 2011 SCORE Prize.  These posts will highlight some of their work that has dramatically improved student achievement.

The transition from the role of a classroom teacher to a building level administrator requires many changes.  However, there was one change I didn’t want to make, and that was to lose touch of what was happening in the classroom.  Since the start of my role as a principal, it is the only thing I’m committed to never changing.

Walkthroughs have certainly become a hot topic in recent years and will continue to be now that they comprise a major part of the state’s new teacher evaluation model.  Here at John Sevier, Mrs. Ginny Boles (Assistant Principal) and I have the goal of visiting every classroom, every day.  This is not limited to classrooms, but also includes our cafeteria, gym, after-school program, and any other area where there are students, teachers, or personnel interacting.

For John Sevier, the classroom visits help make us who we are.  They are where most everything we do begin.  It allows us as administrators to understand what the teacher is doing and how the art of teaching is approached.  These visits create a mutual ground for discussing students, curriculum, achievement, behavior, building needs and accessibility to the principal.

The daily visits focus on positive strategies that impact student achievement.  We learned quickly when you make note of the good things going on in the classroom, you see them occurring more often.  We have always believed there is more to be gained through informal versus formal conversations.  As a direct result of student engagement, we saw student discipline issues decrease.  Our teachers and staff soon developed a trust and respect while seeing the daily visits as an administrative support mechanism.  With the process of the new teacher evaluation model, our teachers feel they have an advantage.  The four walkthroughs a year are minimal compared to seeing their principal’s in the room each day.

The benefits of our daily visits are numerous, but the three most noteworthy include:

1)  Enhanced Relationships

2)  Targeted Professional Development

3)  Improved Student Achievement

The daily visits allow us to connect with the entire staff and most importantly the students. You cannot place a value on relationships in the work place.    Secondly, when a teacher comes to us about a particular need in the form of instruction, we can quickly target another teacher in the building who may be of help in that area.  It also allows us to form our professional development like instruction of the students, which is targeted for individual growth areas.  Last would be the overall goal of improving student achievement that leads to individual and group growth.

The classroom visits are the focal point of everything we have done, are doing, and look to do in the future.  For us, the ability to develop a sense of trust and caring for every individual is the end result.