The Glass Classroom
The question posed on the Scholastic Teachers Facebook page was something like this: What if your principal scheduled a classroom evaluation and then didn’t show up or showed up and stayed for only 5 minutes? Readers could comment or they could follow the link to the full article drawn from career questions here.
Here’s what I found interesting: Out of 15 or so comments from teachers, only one referred to the possibility that she may have missed out on some suggestions that might improve instruction. And even that person noted that “some people she knew” thought they got some good suggestions, but it didn’t matter much to her. Of course, we’re looking at a small sample of teachers who check the website for ideas they can use in their classroom, so we might assume they’re already a group committed to continual innovation and improvement. But what does this say about supervision and evaluation from administration as tools to enhance instruction? No much, I’d have to say.
Teachers were for the most part pretty generous in excusing their administrators as having full schedules and plenty to do. One said his administrator had missed his class evaluation twice; another said it would never happen at her school.
Several teachers said it didn’t matter to them if their administrator was in the room or not; they taught the same way. While I think that’s basically true, I can say from my own experience that even as a veteran teacher I worried a little when the principal was watching me teach even though I felt confident I knew what I was doing.
But my favorite comment came from a teacher who said she thought all classroom walls should be made of glass. What a great idea! Why hasn’t anyone thought of that? Imagine, for a moment, if your school had clear walls to the hall, the way some college libraries do for their seminar rooms. Anyone could walk down the hall and observe what was going on – administrators, parents, other teachers. The principal could do a daily walkaround without disturbing anyone, without opening the door so all eyes swivel to see who’s coming in. It would be like the old open classrooms except you could actually hear yourself teach.
So here’s the obvious question: Would it make a difference if classrooms had clear walls? For many teachers, my guess is no. They are prepared, connected to kids, and know how to manage a classroom. But for others … I’m thinking it might matter. But only if someone took the time to observe.