Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, teachers were allowed to close their classroom doors, and basically teach their students whatever they wanted to, however they wanted to, whenever they wanted to. Classroom teachers were given complete independence, and they very rarely ever saw an administrator in their classrooms.
Those days are gone.
Now, hardly a day goes by that administrators are not walking through classrooms observing instruction. Modern principals strive to be in every classroom every day. Assistant principals and curriculum specialists come by and observe instruction regularly. Even district administrators drop in from time to time.
It’s only fair to ask, what are these people looking for when they come in your class? In a perfect world, administrators would communicate clear expectations, and they would clearly explain what they want to see when they visit classrooms.
Clearly, we don’t live in a perfect world. Teachers are often confused about what administrators are looking for when they visit classrooms and observe instruction.
The truth is, different administrators might be looking for different things when they visit classrooms. However, in my experience, most administrators are looking for some fairly basic things that are hallmarks of “best instructional practices.” Most of these hallmarks of effective instruction cut across all grades and subject areas, but since I bring the perspective of a literacy instructional consultant, I am more facile with the hallmarks of high-quality literacy instruction – especially in elementary school. Please keep that in mind as you read this article.
Essentially, when I visit classrooms with administrators, the things we are looking for fall into four major categories:
1. Classroom / Instructional Organization
2. Student Engagement
3. Alignment of Instruction
4. Rigor of Instruction