Several weeks ago, I posted that I was giving up my office to be a mobile principal. I am several weeks into the experience. I am convinced even more now than ever before that the majority of the responsibilities and work that a principal needs to be doing during school hours is not in his or her office. The work I need to be doing during the day is in the hallways, the cafeteria, the playground, the classroom, the parking lot. In fact, when I had an office it should have been the norm that I was not in my office rather than for me to be in my office.
The Principal's office can become a trap and very restrictive. Once a principal goes into the office to check email, voice mail, meet with someone, or make a phone call they can get trapped by those who have a question or concern. Meeting people in their work space can be more productive and convenient. The office type work such as checking email, voice mail, or making phone calls, can be done in other parts of the building such as the media center, cafeteria, or on a hallway bench. This allows the principal to be visible and available.
The benefits of being a mobile principal are endless. As a mobile principal, you have the potential to walk over 15,000 steps (approximately 7.0 miles) in a school day. This can contribute to the quality of your health in a positive way. You can potentially have many more conversations with people either in private (dip into the nearest conference room or work room) or in public than you would if you were in your office. You can hang out in classrooms, other people's offices, the hallway, the cafeteria, etc... You can have conversations with people you would not normally see. You can discover areas of the school that may need attention. You can meet many parents that are at school to either volunteer or have concerns about their child's experience and be able to respond immediately.
Being mobile can reduce the need for parents and staff to email you or call you. When you are out and about, walking the hallways, and walking through classrooms, you will be able to answer a lot of questions and address concerns face to face rather than by email or voice mail. It is also a more personable way to handle situations which can improve relationships overall.
Each day, identifying another person who has an office to stash your computer bag or whatever you tend to bring to school that day can be productive as well. Throughout the day, stop by and sit down to check and send some emails. During this time, you will get to have some really good conversation relating to your school or this person's personal life. In addition, you must take the time to stop by your administrative assistant's office to sign any budget requisitions or approve any budget transactions. It is good to stroll through the front office several times per day to answer any questions and to help out if needed as well.
I must say that being a "mobile" principal has been one of the most radical moves professionally that I have made as school principal. However, it has been very eye opening and beneficial to our staff, students, parents, and me as a professional.
Check this video out about the 21st Century business.