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Open Door Policy and Professional Conversations


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I cannot fathom being an administrator and not having an open door policy.  Our job is to best serve our school and community; administrators must be visible and have conversations with staff, students, and stakeholders to move the school forward.  We have to model what we want; we want staff to have an open door policy with colleagues and Supervisors/Administrators so that we can learn from each other and provide feedback/comments to make each other better.  This culture starts with the administrators; I want to talk with other leaders so that I can become better and I want to welcome and discuss with staff ideas to get better (in the classroom, brainstorm ideas, in our community,etc…).  I had a great conversation this week with one of our outstanding staff members and it started with her knocking on my door and asking if we could talk (my response was a quick “Yes”; I was taught by mentors and I practice it- people during the day, paperwork at night).  She wanted to follow up on a book study from last year (Grading Smarter Not Harder) and have a professional conversation on a no zero policy.  We had a great conversation about utilizing this method as well as questioning each other on how to use it with certain topics and personal beliefs on grading. Our observation tool is a coaching model and I used this method in our conversation asking questions and forcing the teacher to reflect.  To her credit, she was open to our discussion and reflection.  She asked great questions and was very insightful on the topic and her beliefs.  As our conversation came to a close she thanked me and in turn I thanked her for the conversation; it is these professional conversations that make us better and I shared that with her.  The conversation made me reflect and will make me a better educator and leader.  I am thankful to be able to have these conversations and work with such a great staff that care about their professional practice and our students so much.  Our goal is to always do what is best for students and move our school forward; having an open door policy and engaging in professional conversations are a necessity for this.

I would recommend the book Grading Smarter Not Harder to anyone wanting to have a conversation with their staff/colleagues about grading practices.  I would also highly recommend On Your Mark by Thomas Guskey; these are two great books that share great ideas and strategies to rethink grading practices.

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