Aspiring K-12 principals in Washington state typically interview with lots of people — the superintendent, principals, teachers, students and parents.
But few applicants are asked to demonstrate their leadership before they get the job, according to a survey of Washington superintendents and principals published last month.
Taking a “walkthrough” of a school is one way applicants can show potential employers their ability to observe classroom instruction, evaluate what they see and offer teachers constructive ideas for improvement.
Although 65 percent of principals in the survey said walkthroughs could help them show their leadership potential, only about 30 percent reported doing a walkthrough before they were hired, according to the Center for Reinventing Public Education, a think tank affiliated with the University of Washington – Bothell.
The report suggests that districts require all finalist candidates do a walkthrough or some other “performance task” to give employers more information than they can glean from interviews and written statements alone. In Denver, for example, all candidates conduct a “learning walk” and then create a teacher training plan for the school.
But other research suggests that such firsthand observations of classrooms aren’t always effective — especially when used to evaluate individual teachers and principals. One is a 2008 report in Educational Leadership from ASCD, an international nonprofit representing educators, administrators, scholars and advocates.
That report didn’t specifically address using walkthroughs for hiring purposes.