Principals spend 8% of time in classrooms

Principals spend 63 percent of their time in the office and 8 percent in classrooms, according to a Stanford study, writes Justin Baeder. Researchers started counting 30 minutes before the school day began and ended when students left.

In lieu of putting a whoopie cushion on the seat, Baeder suggests principals “get rid of your desk chair during school hours.”

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  1. Michael E. Lopez says:

    My first thought upon hearing this was, “Wow… that much?”

    8% seems fine. Classroom time for a principal is JUST keeping an eye on things and evaluation — nothing else constructive gets done.

    There are parents to meet, money to be raised, discipline issues to be handled, payrolls to meet, reports to write, school board meetings to go to, pictures to take, meetings to hold…

    Principals have a lot on their plate.

    • You might want to rethink your dismissal of your initial reaction. While the study did direct observation of the involved principals there doesn’t seem to have been any effort to account for the Hawthorn effect other then to tell the principals to ignore the observers.

      Since it’s unlikely that a principal being followed around by an observer, whose timer goes off at five-minute intervals, isn’t likely to be unaffected by that observation the question is in which direction is their behavior directed?

      Since the study was to be published it seems reasonable to assume that the principals would want to put on their best public face which is that they’re caring, committed education professionals. There doesn’t seem to be much value to the principals in under-attending classrooms during the study so that “8%” figure is probably high.

    • Hi Michael,
      I think you’re right that this is typically how it is. But I’d offer a different vision of the principalship, one that we can create with a bit of intentionality and the right strategies. You might be interested in