My role is primarily as observer when I attend such meetings. While I have the ability to offer input, I am so thrilled with the teacher leadership and ownership displayed at such meetings that I rarely share my thoughts or input, unless asked. This is truly a valuable learning experience for me. What I find myself asking is, "What do teachers need of me in order to better collaborate and go about their work?" I often have the ability to serve as a liaison between the teams and school administrators, and offer answers to questions and procedural support.
My desire is to offer key supports, without interfering with teacher work, but also, not becoming so hands-off that teachers do not feel supported. I am wondering what other administrators do to support their teachers in such a collaborative environment. Do you attend every meeting or just a few? What role do you play in the meetings you attend? What do teachers require most of you in this capacity?
As a new district administrator, my goal for this year is to visit 100% of the classrooms (at just past the halfway point, I've visited ~30%, not doing so well!) and 50% of the collaborative learning teams. When visiting a classroom, I stay somewhere between three and thirty minutes. When appropriate, I follow up with a verbal conversation or a note summarizing what I saw or would like to know more about. When I visit a collaborative learning team comprised of teachers who share students or a content area, I try to read the digital notes ahead of time, sit back and observe for the first half of the meeting and when appropriate, chime in with questions and suggestions.
Teachers, realizing that your administrators may be coming to the meeting cold or lukewarm compared to you and your colleagues, what do you most want from them when they visit your collaborative learning team?
I'd like to hear thoughts from the other direction, too. Building and district administrators, what role do you typically play when visiting collaborative learning teams?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below.