Every school manager I've had the privilege to work with understands the idea of being in every classroom, in every corner of the school as a manager. But how is it possible to be in every classroom as a manager, and should you even want to be in every classroom?
Managing a school is a complex undertaking given the interconnectedness of interactions between educators and learners, amongst educators and amongst learners. These interactions contribute to the personal, relational and academic outcomes of each learner, the culture of the school and the image the society have of the school.
As a manager you want to influence these interactions in a positive direction to achieve set goals and create a culture that takes the school forward. So, how do you infuse your influence to all, or at least most, interactions?
As such being in every classroom affords the leader insights into prevailing contexts attitudes and perceptions that shape the interactions.
While it is tempting to answer the 'how' question, exploring the 'why' question presents the necessary background and rationale for the need of a leader's influence in every classroom. But it's not just the influence the leader has on the interactions; as the actor in the school the leader is also influenced by the interactions that he/she may seek to influence. As such being in every classroom affords the leader insights into prevailing contexts, attitudes and perceptions that shape the interactions. In this way the leader becomes responsive to the realities of the classroom and can apply foresight to necessary improvements.
As a strategic leader, insight to every classroom activity allows the principal to witness implementation of improvement effort, identifying what works and what does not work. Empowered by this real-time feedback the management team can reconfigure their plans and revise their expectations as they evaluate data gathered from classroom input and from task performance.
On the other hand being in every classroom allows managers to identify gaps and undesirable interactions that are in sync with the values and the culture of the school. These interactions could be unintentional and/or oblivious on the part of educators and learners. In the worst case they could be deliberate acts to sabotage improvement efforts by aggrieved actors or shadow leaders acting to oppose the intended progress.