The Importance of Administrator Visibility

Michele Snoke
Michele Snoke
Elementary School Principal; M.S.E. in Educational Leadership
A teacher handing a smiling student papers in school.

What is Administrator Visibility?

An administrator’s visibility is the act of being seen by the school’s stakeholders while gauging the temperature of the school’s culture. A school leader must be seen by the students, teachers, and parents. The visibility for a school administrator is a crucial element within their job responsibilities. The level of visibility should be prominent, consistent, and authentic.

Every school leader sets standards for the school’s culture. Prominent daily presence reminds stakeholders of the leader’s expectations, along with developing respect for the leader. A principal’s consistent routine of high visibility provides a feeling among the school stakeholders of reliability from their leader. When a school leader engages authentically with teachers, students, and parents while being visible, the visibility becomes meaningful within the school culture.

To be seen by stakeholders is the easy part of visibility for an administrator. The challenging task is how the visibility is delivered and what the administrator does while being visible. It is easy to stand in the middle of the school lobby or walk in and out of classrooms, but there is more to just being seen.

Why is Administrator Visibility Important?

Visibility is important and vital for an effective school administrator. The amount of visibility and manner in which visibility is used determines the level of importance for a school administrator.

Stakeholders see an administrator’s visibility as vested interest in a school. When school leaders are seen regularly, it creates opportunities to build relationships with all stakeholders, and relationships grow schools and define a positive school culture. Visibility by a school administrator sets the tone for the whole school.

Strategies to Improve Administrator Visibility

At the beginning of each school day, the school’s administrator should be greeting students with a smiling, “Good Morning.” Eventually the daily “Good Morning,” turns into “Are those new shoes?” or “Did you get a haircut?” Simple questions asked while being visible builds relationships with students. Administrators can also share waves with parents as they pass through the morning carpool lines. Visibility in the morning also gives administrators the chance to greet teachers before their day begins.

Visibility begins each day when an administrator walks through their building. As instructional coaches, principals conduct informal observations while walking in and out of classrooms each day. Mental notes are made, witnessing teachers teach from their desks, teachers squatting next to students’ desks guiding instruction, and teachers’ exceptional classroom management skills. These observations can only be noted when an administrator is actively visible in their school building.

Visibility provides the opportunity for an administrator to gather information about student achievement. Daily walk-throughs can allow administrators time to engage in authentic real time moments of student learning and also allows them to notice the students unable to pay attention to the teacher’s instruction, along with the students that are following along without any difficulty. Once again these are simple observations that can be discovered with brief daily visibility by a school administrator.

Other strategies to improve visibility:

  • Capitalize on daily walk-throughs by spending extra time to co-teach alongside a teacher. Ask students questions about the assignment, or jump into working with a small group. The value of classroom visibility for an administrator is the engagement of the time spent with teachers and students while visiting their classroom. After spending time in a classroom informally, follow up your visit with a brief note of encouragement or gratitude for the teacher.
  • Visit the playground when students are at recess. While students are socializing and playing with classmates, visit with the students during their favorite part of the school day. Ask questions about games, cheer on teams, or jump on a swing or into a hopscotch game.
  • Participate in morning and/or afternoon carpool procedures. Wave hello or good-bye to parents traveling through carpool, or take over a teacher’s assigned carpool post. When present at carpool, it expresses your approval of the procedures.
  • Greet students as they exit the morning bus. Walk students to their bus location in the afternoon, saying good-bye to students.
  • Enjoy lunch in the cafeteria with students. Stop by lunch tables to have conversations with students. Help sell and serve lunch food.
  • Attend family events organized for students and their families. Always be aware of the dates of all events hosted by your school’s parent organization.
  • Announce daily announcements over the PA system. In schools where students produce and direct a closed circuit broadcast, create a weekly show with other administrators and/or the leadership team. Be creative and vulnerable with students once a week to express your visibility with risk and not perfection.
  • Communicate weekly with a school newsletter, update website, and/or add to social media regularly.
  • Make introductions at assemblies, greet students, and dismiss students at the end of assemblies.
  • Assist others in the school office by answering phone calls, passing out bandages, or changing trash bags.

All stakeholders of a school want the school administrator to be visible and present. Visibility will provide students with feelings of acceptance and security at school each day. Teachers will share their passion for teaching, celebrate student accomplishments, and seek support and advice for teaching difficulties. Parents will feel confident in the leader of the school. The importance of visibility by an administrator is the key to a successful school.

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