Being “visible” is more than just being seen, although attempting to be seen in a variety of functions and locations is a good place to start for new principals. Your physical presence at school events, team meetings, in the hallways, and in the cafeteria communicates much about your priorities and concern for your staff and students. But true visibility goes beyond simply changing your physical location and requires intentional engagement.
Without attempted stakeholder engagement, then your location doesn’t matter and in fact you probably should stay in your office rather than be seen moving around your campus detached from your staff and students.
The best principals, whether it is natural to them or forced, approach, interact and respond with their students and staff during their movement around the campus or while working a duty area.
In the cafeteria they push trash cans around, simultaneously building relationships with the students and modeling great servant leadership for their facilities staff. They know where individual students sit and use the time to both learn about potential issues and to also preemptively resolve them.
In the hallways, they call students by name (first, last, even nicknames) and converse easily about their activities and interests. They change their location throughout the day so that they are accessible to a large part of the staff for at least one class change. Their students begin to look for them and anticipate their presence and are quick to inquire about where they are when they do not get to see them.
At extracurricular events they move around the stadium communicating with parents, staff, and students while solving various problems, preventing others, and solidifying their important connections with everyone they meet. The next day they use their observations of student performance to foster many impromptu conversations in the hallway and cafeteria.
Practice true visibility: Approach, Interact, and Respond
The last thing over-worked and under-timed principals need is another blog telling them to do one more thing. But “Being Visible” isn’t one more thing, ultimately it is the thing. It is what your student’s need and more importantly it is what you need.