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Q & A: Classroom visits are part of a principal’s job

April 5, 2016 Gordon Thomas, Executive Secretary

Question: My principal doesn’t support me enough as a teacher. He snoops in my class and sometimes sits in on my lessons. He offers suggestions even though I’m a very experienced teacher. He should leave my classroom alone. I need smaller classes and more time from a teacher’s assistant — that would be support. I should be treated with respect — I’m a damned good teacher.

Answer: I think it is very important to recognize that principals have duties established under the School Act that include providing instructional leadership, evaluating teachers employed in the school and ensuring that instruction is consistent with the requirements of the programs of study. This means that principals are expected to be in classrooms. Of course, this does not mean all classrooms all the time, but the principal does have very legitimate responsibilities here. The appearance of a principal in your classroom is not snooping.

Under the Teacher Professional Growth, Supervision and Evaluation Policy, principals have a responsibility for ongoing supervision of all teachers. This will include classroom visits. It’s quite reasonable to expect that classroom visits would produce some observations or feedback for the teacher. In a collegial culture, feedback should be welcomed and considered. After all, a principal is a teacher and a colleague. In the context of instructional leadership, supervision of instruction and responsibility for evaluation of teachers, there is ample reason for a principal to be in a teacher’s classroom. The ­appearance of a principal in this role is not disrespectful of teachers at all, but rather the fulfillment of the principal’s legitimate leadership duties.

I would encourage a little more respect for the principal’s role and work. Just as you expect to be supported in your professional role, you need to respect the principal’s responsibilities and obligations. I would carefully consider the principal’s feedback and engage in a constructive conversation about your classroom. Clarify how you can be supported to meet student learning needs.

If you need advice with respect to the professional relations you have in your school, you should contact Member Services at Barnett House (1-800-232-7208) or the Southern Alberta Regional Office or SARO (1-800-332-1280). ❚

Questions for consideration in this column are welcome. Please address them to Gordon Thomas at Barnett House (

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