500 Classroom Visits
By Dr. Curtis Finch, Deer Valley Unified School District Superintendent
“Who are you?” is the first question I receive from students when I step into a classroom at Deer Valley Unified School District on one of my 500 classroom visits a year. Now that I have visited over 1,500 classrooms the last three years, I also hear, “You were in my classroom last year!”
There are four main reasons why I visit at least 500 classrooms each school year: 1) connect with the staff in each building; 2) capture a pulse of the teaching and learning process in the district; 3) witness students learning in their natural environment; and 4) model employee-focused behavior for campus leaders.
For years, I have repeated, “A good principal is a hallway principal, but a great principal is a classroom principal,” and classroom visits model this behavior, highlighting the importance of connection to staff and students.
I am a big fan of best-selling author Daniel Pink’s work on human engagement; he has been writing on this topic for decades and his research could not be more pertinent for today’s employees, parents and students.
As the Greatest Generation retires in record numbers and millennials join the workforce at that same pace, the work environment is ever evolving. Pink’s research is right in line with what the millennials want from work, parents want from children, and students want from school—purpose. All desire to know if I am making a difference, adding meaning to my life and/or improving the lives of others. As parents (or grandparents) of school-aged children, adults need to continuously paint the “value picture” for our students so they can see the purpose of education. It is a foundational principle for our successful democracy—education for all. A more educated democracy thinks about the needs of others over themselves.
If you desire to improve your company’s bottom line, your student’s perception of education or your personal value at work, ask this simple question: Am I valuing the importance of my co-workers, bosses, teachers and support-staff members for the betterment of themselves and society by unselfishly giving time and energy to them? If you can answer this question with a definitive “yes,” then you will find the meaning of your journey—a purpose-filled life. So, why do I visit at least 500 classrooms a year? To show students, staff and parents that education is important. It gives us purpose for improving the world around us.
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