October 27, 2015

Undercover Boss - School Style!

Guest post by Michelle of Teach 1, 2, 3

I was watching one of my favorite shows, Undercover Boss, when I had a brainstorm! What if a legislator, congressman, State Superintendent or Commissioner of Education went undercover in the schools in their districts? They would see the impact of the decisions that they make. It would be first-hand experience, much better feedback than what they normally receive.

If you haven't seen Undercover Boss, you can click HERE to watch the first few minutes of an episode on YouTube. But be sure to return to Corkboard Connections to read how the undercover boss concept might work at school.

If you listen to many conversations or read many posts involving education, you will often sense a negative tone. Teachers are facing more and more pressures today. Critics of new curriculum and standards, larger class sizes, less resources, and the list could go on and on. Is it any wonder that administrators, school leaders, and the Sunshine Committees are often searching for ways to support the staff and improve the school climate?

Undercover Boss - School Style

While it might be a pipe dream to have our government leaders spend a day as a teacher undercover, I do think administrators could do a modified version of it. Everyone at the school knows the administrator, so the undercover portion of Undercover Boss would not work. But, the principal could go back to the classroom and walk in your shoes. He or she would gain some of the same valuable insights that the people on Undercover Boss do. What is a strength and weakness of the new curriculum? How are the students adapting to the school wide behavior plan? Can the class hear announcements? Is there enough time to get the class through the lunch line? He or she could also see the impact of other decisions that are made by the administrative team.

Choosing a Class to Visit

An administrator is a busy person so how would he or she decide whose class to visit? This can be organized in a variety of ways. Here are two suggestions:
  • Reward - Put all of the names of the staff members who have perfect attendance for the month in a hat. Draw a name (or two,three . . . ) out of the hat. Those names are the winner of a 30-minute break when the administrator teaches a lesson. You may find that your attendance rate goes up which is a win-win for everyone! 
  • New Teachers - I don't know about you, but when I began my first year of teaching, I was completely overwhelmed with all of the hundreds of details and decisions that I had to make in a day. I really wished that a mentor would had modeled strategies with my class instead of giving me a list of what I needed to work on before we met the next time. It would had been more beneficial if I could have seen these strategies in action rather than verbally telling me what to do or handing me a book or article. A principal would be the perfect person to do this since he or she knows these students, sometimes for years and shaping the career of a new teacher has to be (I would think) one of the more rewarding aspects of the job.

Undercover Story Time With Your Principal

An easy way to implement Undercover Boss - School Style is for your principal to schedule a Story Time visit with each classroom. One of my former principals visited each class at the beginning of the year to read his favorite book and talk about what school was like when he was in that grade. It was a great way for the principal to introduce himself to the students. Students found ways to connect with him through the story time lesson. I often saw them talking to him in the hallway or lunch about topics brought up in his lesson. He share things like: playing soccer, favorite cartoons, and his favorite subject in school. All topics that are an instant hit with students!

It not only built relationships with students, but those same children went home excited about how their principal who was so "cool" and played soccer like them. I had several parents comment on how impressed they were that a busy principal would take the time to visit classes and do something like this. These visits were scheduled during the first month of school because he knew teachers have endless amounts of paperwork. Although we were asked to stay in the classroom, we were allowed to work on paperwork or other work that did not involve the students. This was like a 30-minute gift of time for us when we needed it the most. This was a wonderful community building activity that I highly recommend.

Story Time Freebies
If you are a teacher and you would like your principal to bring story time to your classroom, be sure to share this post with him or her. If you are a principal and would like to try this activity, I have some free printables for you. Here's what's included:
  • Signs: color and black/white
  • Schedule your story time visit with the teacher
  • Reminder about your visit
  • 3 reading response assignments 
There are 3 variations of the reading response assignment that you can use in different grade levels or to differentiate in one class. If you don't want to assign them yourself, you can give them to the teacher after your lesson.

Are you on the administrative team or have an administrator who likes to try new things?  Does Undercover Boss - School Style sound like something you or someone you know would like to do? If so, try one of these ideas or tell us your how you did it in the comment section below.  Learning and sharing from each other is one of the best parts of the blogging community.

I enjoy writing about how to have a happy school. I have compiled some of my posts about this topic on a page of my blog and will continue to add to the list as I add more posts. Click on the picture above if you'd like to read more ideas about this topic. Thank you Laura for inviting me to visit your blog today!

Michelle is the creator of the Teach 1, 2, 3 blog where she shares her teaching tips and classroom management strategies. She's taught in a variety of schools, both large and small, as well as public and private, and this wide range of experiences is evident in her teaching materials. 


  1. Such wonderful ideas! I really like the Story Time with Your Principal!
    Thank you,
    Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas!

  2. Awesome! Can't wait to share this with our administration!

  3. Great job on this post! I enjoyed reading it and will share it with others. I share your love of promoting a happy work environment.

  4. What a great way to boost the school climate! Thanks for sharing. :) Anne

  5. This is great! My administrator already promotes a positive work environment in many ways including reading to our classes. I'm going to share this because I know she will like the other ideas! She also started a 'shout out' section in our weekly newsletter to celebrate colleagues and support staff. All are encouraged to contribute to it. Coins for going above and beyond too...she's been with us a few months and already things are changing for the better!

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