"No Office Day -with Hashtag"


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.

"No Office Day in the Dalian Today Magazine"
No Office Day in the Dalian Today Magazine

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.

"William King - NoOfficeDay Tweet Aug-4-11"

…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!

Have a ‘No Office Day’! – September 12-16th, 2011

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!

[Cross-Posted on Connected Principals]

8 comments on “International No Office Day

  1. I think principals should be the first choice a subs when teachers call in sick. I remember when my dad was the superintendent of of the K-12 building in central South Dakota where I went to grades 1-4 before he got a job in the big city of Sioux Falls. There were lots of times when Dad had to take over classrooms – sometimes there just weren’t any subs to come in; they were probably getting the corn picked before the weather hit, or doing some other chore that couldn’t wait.

    Principals in this kind of arrangement would then make sure they did all they could to keep their staff healthy, and get a good feel for what is happening in the classrooms.

  2. Interesting Dan,
    At my last school, in China, we did not have substitute teachers and so teachers, and I, covered for absenses. What is interesting is that because of this, teachers felt a greater obligation to come to work and there were very little absences in my school. In fact, on several occaisions I sent teachers home because they came in and should not have. I think that’s above and beyond what should be expected of a teacher!

    Thanks for sharing a little history and insight into an administrator’s life in a rural setting. 🙂

  3. I love this idea! I’ve always identified in a different way than most of my colleagues with the admin in my schools, probably because of my father, a high school administrator for almost 30 years. I see myself, at some point, making the transition into administration, and having just finished my Masters degree, many people have been asking me if that’s where I’m headed in the next year or so.

    The main reason I’m not making the move yet is that I love being in a learning environment with kids. I would miss the classroom too much at this point. Which is why I think this is such a fantastic idea. I’m sure that many administrators miss being with the students. I know that the principal in my school loves her teaching blocks every week. What a wonderful way to rejuvenate and remind oneself about what’s important. And, also, I’m guessing, No Office Day would be a lot more fun too!

  4. Thanks for your kind words Naomi.

    Don’t rush into admin… that’s my advice. I think I made the jump a bit too early and still have pangs to be in the classroom again. I’m actually a VP of ‘open learning’ in my district now, and although my learning curve is way too large to tackle something else new this year, I hope to teach a class next year.

    I think most if not all administrators miss the classroom at some level and the thing that I personally liked about having a No Office Day was the intentional commitment to be with students and teachers. Hopefully you can share the idea with your admin! 🙂

  5. Welcome back David.

    In my work devel oping resources, I have had two opportunities to spend significant time visiting classrooms (usually one or two week stints in a several schools). My role was always that of an observer trying to understand student and teacher interaction around a particular focus (using digital resources in junior high Math and participating in inquiry based science in primary schools). I believe that the time I spent in those classrooms contributed as much or more to my understanding of my purpose, role and craft as any other activity in my publishing career.

  6. I like reading your posts and I can imagine that the teachers in your school do as well.
    I wish it wasn’t so hard for administrators to be in classrooms and participate in the learning environment. In a way, it’s sad you have to declare “No Office Day” but in another way, it’s a great way to say – “Being in a classroom is important to me.”
    I appreciate how you model technology integration via twitter pics to document your day.

  7. Well, I didn’t do a ‘No Office Day’ last week as planned. The reality is that I now work with primarily online and distributed learning students and we’ve had some technical issues and start-up issues that have kept me hopping… And, so the best use of my time was not staying away from my office. Still, I loved seeing people share their #noofficeday experiences. Here are a few:

    I’ll figure out how to make this work for me in a few months, but for now my office is just too busy and there are too many things required of me (that take a lot of time as someone new to the position with a massive learning curve) for me to be effectively use a whole day out of the office. I’m planning some teacher visits today and tomorrow, but a full no office day will have to wait!

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