The School Administrator

November Cover

November 2010 Number 10, Vol. 67Classroom ObservationsWalk-throughs, audits and peer visits for leveraging better learning


  • Watching the Game and Not Just Keeping Score


    The most direct way to gauge the quality of instruction is to observe what is happening in classrooms. However, the use of observations to transform instruction varies widely. The authors describe some tools in use in one district for leveraging change in practice once the data are collected.

    Similar Reading: Choice-Based Evaluation Driving Differentiation and Additional Resources

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  • Learning-Walk Continuum


    All 12 superintendents required their principals to conduct learning walks. Nearly all 12 superintendents participated in learning walks themselves. In his own district in Washington state, a simplistic checklist has given way to meaningful dialogue about the qualities administrators observe in an effective classroom.

    Similar Reading: Real-Time Data From a Classroom Walk-Through and One School’s Cautious Use of Classroom Walk-Throughs and Additional Resources

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  • Peer Visits and Revisits in the Superintendency


    Through a structured network, school district leaders receive critical feedback from colleagues, which enables them to connect classroom observations to leadership practice. The author, an educator at Harvard, describes constructive interactions among peers that take place on a regular basis in one of their schools.

    Similar Reading: Linking Superintendent Actions to Classroom Improvement and Getting Through the Classroom Door and

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  • Conducting an Academic Audit


    A 2,200-student school district in Maine used outside facilitators to analyze the teaching and learning experiences after years of below-average performance on standardized tests and negative community perceptions. The superintendent at the time describes the three primary challenges that the audit identified in the instructional process and how the district set out initially to tackle them.

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    On the Road With High-Test in His Tank by Jay P. Goldman

    After 28 years as superintendent in the same school district, Tom Ames has signed on for the next three years as the half-time superintendent in each of two small, rural school districts — located more than 200 miles apart from one another in Minnesota.

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    Board-Savvy Superintendent

    Converting Board Meetings Into Quality Time by NICHOLAS D. CARUSO JR.

    How many of the hours school boards spend leading their districts is related to issues of instruction and learning? Based on his consulting experiences, the author has some thoughts for making meetings more effective and efficient.

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    Surviving the Stress of a Legal Deposition by MARSHA L. CARR

    The author’s administrative preparation did not include how to deal with a deposition. Early on in her superintendency, she learned how to do so on several occasions. She shares her coping advice for this unpleasant experience.

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    Contagious Effects of a District’s Ethics Code by JOAN McROBBIE

    It’s not that wrongdoing is on the upswing, but at a time of budget cutting and high-stakes accountability, a school district that leads with clarity about ethics can bolster community trust. While managing one district’s ethics code, the author found employee morale also got a boost.

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    Guest Column

    The Explosive Inbox: Disturbing Contents by MERLE HOROWITZ

    Unsettled by the hostile and confrontational e-mail she was receiving as superintendent, the author devoted a recent doctoral dissertation to the subject. She shares what she learned about how other school leaders are dealing with this.

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    The latest roundup of members’ appointments, retirements, honors and deaths from across the nation.

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    Tech Leadership

    ‘Friending’ Students: A Case of Community Values by DAVID B. RUBIN

    The easy access and impulsive nature of Facebook have laid bare a long-standing failure of school districts to stake out the acceptable boundaries of teacher-student relationships away from school.

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    President's Corner

    Voices Heard, Presence Felt? by EDGAR B. HATRICK

    AASA made the seemingly impossible happen when Congress approved $10 billion in federal funding to support educator positions. But such effective influence requires members to do their part.

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    Executive Perspective

    Let’s Assume the Identity of Transformers by DANIEL A. DOMENECH

    Education leaders with proven track records are made to feel as if they have nothing to contribute when written off as part of “the establishment” by reformers currying favor today with the Obama administration. AASA’s chief calls for the wearing of a new label that seems fitting.

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    AASA School Solutions

    Raising Money for Schools While Alleviating a Burden by ED BERNSTEIN

    Every school offers custom merchandise — T-shirts, sweatshirts and more. But typically the investment made — in time and money — can be challenging for budget-strapped schools or organizations. With changing tastes and budgets, it’s also difficult to predict what products will sell, not to mention which colors or sizes.

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