Can We Do Better Than 8%?

Classroom computer students
I’m re-reading the study of principals’ time use that I referenced yesterday, and I came across two sobering facts about where principals spend their time.

In one particular location, principals spend 63 percent of their time. And we spend 8 percent in another place.

Can you guess where these two places are?

Principals in the study spent 63% of their time in the office and 8% in classrooms. (The study began 30 minutes before the school day began and ended when students left.)

Here’s a simple trick for shifting that balance a bit more toward classrooms.

Whoopie cushion

Seriously—put something on your chair, and you’ll spend less time in the office. But it doesn’t have to be a whoopie cushion—though that would certainly be an effective way to make yourself publicly accountable for getting into classrooms.

How about a simple sign? Print this PDF, fold, tape, and set on chair.

Chair sign

Even better, get rid of your desk chair during school hours. Push it over to your conference table and just stand at your desk (it’s better for you anyway, and you’ll work faster).

If you’re ready to do more to get into classrooms and lead learning in your school, join me for the High-Performance Instructional Leadership Network.

High-Performance Instructional Leadership Network

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Justin Baeder helps school administrators increase their productivity through the High-Performance Instructional Leadership Network. Learn More »

Leave a Reply 4 comments

NCadmin - November 29, 2013 Reply

As an administrator, I absolutely agree that time outside of the office, engaged with the students and teachers in the learning environment, is where time should be spent. But the challenge is getting everything else done and still remain engaged at home with your family. If there are any admin out there with great structures for their days/weeks to strike this balance, especially in the high school setting, I’d love to hear them.

Justin Baeder - December 2, 2013 Reply

Thanks for your comment—structure is definitely the place to start, because this kind of thing doesn’t happen by accident. You might want to see our free Instructional Leadership Challenge workshops at

EdReal - January 6, 2014 Reply

Good god, no. Principals are managers, not teachers. They have better things to do than micromanage teachers.

Justin Baeder - January 12, 2014 Reply

Thanks for your comment – I agree that principals are managers and have better things to do than micromanage teachers…but where does “micro” kick in? Is seeing each teacher actually teaching once every two weeks micromanaging? Or just managing?

At the other end of the spectrum from micromanaging is ignoring, which I would argue is just as disrespectful to teachers’ professionalism – and is bad management. The single most dispiriting realization I ever came to as a teacher was that no one was paying any attention to how I was teaching.

I think a lot of the difference between managing and micromanaging is determined by what happens when the principal is in the classroom. Is it a chance for mutual learning and feedback, or a chance for nitpicking?

For more on this than I can say in a comment…check out

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