At about the same time back in December 2010, Lyn Hilt & I both decided to spend a little more time in our classrooms rather than in our offices. Although I was in Dalian, China and she was in Denver, Pennsylvania, USA, we are both on Twitter and also on Connected Principals and we shared our experiences about our ‘No Office Days’.
My ‘No Office Day’ Post was inspired by a busy schedule whereby I promised my staff I’d see more of them and then promptly got stuck in an almost all-day meeting. The following day, I didn’t bring my laptop to school and spent the entire day in classrooms. I chronicled my day by taking some photos on my phone and uploading them to twitter with the hashtag #noofficeday.
Lyn Hilt asked herself, “Wouldn’t it be amazing to experience an entire school day in the life of a first grader?” and she set off on her own version of a ‘No Office Day’. I think what Lyn did was actually much more meaningful than what I did… her email to teachers invited them to put her to work! I’m sharing her email here:
“I drafted a document called It’s a Date! and emailed my staff:
What’s the best part about being a principal?
Watching all of our children learn!
I have set aside days in my calendar to spend immersed in a grade level/class for the day. I am really excited about this! I will be in the classrooms from students’ arrival through the end of the day, planning to spend time in the rooms during academic times and will visit specials with your classes. I am happy to sit and observe, but reeeeally what I would love to do is join in the fun. Please put me to work! During your PLC meeting closer to your visit date, discuss how you will include me in your class activities. Need someone to facilitate a small group? Want to team up to teach a topic? Would you like to have someone work 1:1 with a student? Should I bring in some tech? These are all ways I’d be happy to help. Decide whose classrooms I will visit at what times of the day. If there is work/planning I need to complete before that day, kindly let me know a day or two in advance.
Shortly after our No Office Days, fellow Connected Principal Dwight Carter also shared his ‘No Office Day’ and that’s probably about the point where the seeds of an idea for an International No Office Day were sown. … It is now a full grown event thanks to a tweet by William King suggesting a National No Office Day.
…And then after a flurry of tweets, Shira Leibowitz really got things going by starting a No Office Day wiki. Knowing the busy schedule of Principals and Vice Principals and other school and district administrators, we decided to make this an event over a full week to make sure every school leader has an opportunity to participate. For example, I’ve got a full day meeting on the 15th and so a one-day event on that day would have been impossible for me. So, pick the day that works best for you!
So why do a no office day? Patrick Larkin said in the first comment of my post on Connected Principals: “…I think I need to schedule a no office day. Every time I visit classrooms, I am filled with positive thoughts and energy from seeing the work of staff and students. Yet, I still do not get into classrooms enough!”
So why a whole day? Every administrator spends time in classrooms… every one that I know wishes they could spend more time doing it. Permitting yourself to spend the whole day in classes is cathartic. It is a battery charger like no other, and let’s face it, everyone needs a burst of enthusiasm in mid September.
So why share your story? I’ve learned from both blogging and from being a Connected Principal that sharing what I do, and being inspired by others doing the same, is some of the best professional development I’ve ever had. In sharing, I reflect and learn. In reading what others share, I am inspired. If you are on Twitter tag you posts with #noofficeay. If you have a blog, share your story there and link to it on the wiki. If you don’t have a blog, create a new page on the ‘No Office Day’ wiki and share your story there… it’s as easy as writing a Word Document and I’ll help if you need me to.
So what are you waiting for? Clear a date in your calendar and then sign yourself up on the wiki… Your students and staff deserve a day with their principal!