The following is a guest post by Rabbi Shira Leibowitz, Lower School Principal, Solomon Schechter School of Westchester.
Scheduled into my calendar for two hours every day—two hours that are now color-coded in red, thanks to my assistant’s ingenuity—is classroom time. During these two hours, I commit to visiting classes, observing, and engaging with students. It’s not the only time I get out of my office (I’m with the kids at lunch and recess and at school wide-events and other programming), but despite my best intentions, classroom time often gets gobbled up.
And what fills in its place?
You guessed it: meetings. While the meetings are (mostly) important—curricular and programming meetings with faculty, meetings with parents who deserve to share their insights and concerns, and strategic meetings with professional and parent leadership—it is in the classrooms, as well as “extended classroom spaces” such as our library, science lab, and outdoor trails and gardens, that true education happens. Teachers and students deserve to see me, their principal, in places of learning, offering support, feedback—rolling up my sleeves and getting directly involved in teaching and learning.
I know I’m not the only person who feels the gravitational pull of the office. Many principals and school administrators, when speaking honestly with one another, share similar frustrations. It is from this place of deep commitment that I have embraced No Office Day. It is a day—actually several days, to accommodate different schedules—on which educational leaders close their offices and file into classes with teachers and students. It’s not the only day we’ll be in classrooms. Indeed, the conversations among colleagues about how to spend the day are energizing me to consider ways of having many No Office Days and daily No Office Hours. I’m reconsidering ways to make classroom time more meaningful and effective. No Office Day is an event, but it is also a frame of mind, an ongoing commitment among educational leaders to dedicating the time to be in classrooms and to finding the ways to make that time most valuable for teachers and students.
But why should you participate? Simple: No Office Day can be an important component of your Value Proposition toolkit, in which you demonstrate to your whole community (the Board, donors, parents, students) your deep interest and involvement in the vital life of the classroom.
Here’s how to get involved:
- Choose a day between September 12-15th to close your office and spend the entire day with students and teachers: supporting, observing teaching, and participating in learning activities.
- Visit the No Office Day wiki. Sign up and let colleagues know you will be participating. Look at the resources posted sharing ideas. Post your own resources.
- For those who learn on Twitter, join the conversation by sharing how you will spend No Office Day and updating colleagues about your day. (Just mark your tweets #NoOfficeDay)
Most importantly, let No Office Day inspire you to get out of your office regularly and to make your classroom time as meaningful as possible.