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  • Jim Mercer

SamTastic Weekly Tip: 10/9/17 - Mix it up.

Mix it up.


I bet you do walkthroughs and observations every week. Great! You can’t help improve the practice of others without observing and having conversations. Consider trying the other two types of instructional observation:


Work With Students: This is a great way to observe a teacher and help with the lesson at the same time. Sit with a student or group and assist during the lesson. Another variation that many SAM teams use is called Grading Papers. The leader grades a set of papers while watching the teacher teach. The principal talks with students who did well.. .and those who could have done much better. This connects the leader in a way that is supportive of the teacher and gives them something meaningful to talk about later. Teachers appreciate the help and the leader has a better understanding of the class. Another idea? The SAM can ask the teacher ahead of time which student the principal should assist during the lesson. This is win for everyone: the student does better, the principal helps the student while observing the teacher and the teacher has a colleague/coach rather than an evaluator in the room. Perfect.


Student Supervision: A leader observes the teacher while redirecting student learning behavior. Principals often do this without thinking.. sometimes by standing close to an inattentive students. sometimes by giving direction: “Quit messing around and pay attention.” Teachers appreciate the help and the leader can observe to determine how to help the teacher better manage the class. Again, everyone wins.


Of course, no matter which kind of instructional observation you do it is critical that feedback is scheduled after. A good SAM always asks during the Daily Meeting: “What kind of feedback do you want to schedule?” SAMs assume the principal is going to connect each instructional event with another. It is this connectivity that leads to improved practice and improved professional relationships in a school and district.

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