The Visit

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A Visiting Committee of fellow educators spends 3-1/2 days at the school, learning more about their work, new understandings, and commitment to the Action Plan. The size of the Visiting Committee is based on the size of the school - for full visits, almost never less than three. WASC makes every attempt to ensure that members have knowledge of the type of school being visited and represent a wide variety of roles possible at the school. Chairpersons are selected several months in advance. They should visit the school campus at least once prior to the visit and do preliminary reading of the self-study report among many, many other things.

  • Information for schools

In preparing, share with stakeholders the type of questions that VC members may ask. Thanks, Ginger, for the good ideas!

Questions for Parents/Families
Questions for Students
Questions for Classified Employees

In preparing staff, try these two personal worksheets. Thanks, Fifi, for such excellent work!

Celebration of Awesome Progress Use this in the few weeks prior to the visit to prompt staff's thinking about "what they've learned" and "what difference that growth will make for students.
Action Plan Study Guide Just as its title implies, this is a prompt to both remind staff of the content and purpose of the action plan AND to solicit their personal commitment to each of the sections.

What evidence do you need in the workroom for the Visiting committee? Here's a draft of suggestions for this evidence that would be useful during the visit. Consider this a work in progress.

  • Information for Chairs and Visiting Committee members

    Chair Tips Here's a thoughtful list of ideas and actions to help you in your work. This personal list contains more detail than the checklist found in the manuals.

    Housekeeping Topics for chairs and school personnel to discuss prior to the visit - schedule, parking, hotel, food, clerical support, meeting guidelines. These are mine; make your own list.documents\housekeeping.pdf

    Visiting Committee Agreements outlines our commitment to the school. We ask the school to hold us accountable! This is a personal practice as chair for me. I find it clears the air of any "got ya" feelings and opens the dialog early. As always, a work in progress.

    Best Practices for Visiting Committee members. As always, a work in progress.

    Validation Language for Visiting Committee members writing analytical/evaluative responses to the school's self-study for the VC report.

    Prewriting Worksheet based on indicators and prompts are available on the WASC website. These are newer worksheets which include more detailed concepts for each of the criteria.

    50 Ways to Improve Your Writing   Humorous guide to writing style. Thanks to Jim for this reference.

    Another quick list of 50 writing tools comes from Roy Peter Clark and is posted at the Poynter Institute website for journalists. You might even want to purchase a copy of his book Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer. If not check out the podcasts that accompany this. For example:

    10. Cut big, then small.
    Prune the big limbs, then shake out the dead leaves.

    14. Get the name of the dog.
    Dig for the concrete and specific details that appeal to the senses.

    32. Place gold coins along the path.
    Reward the reader with high points, especially in the middle.

    Content and Style Tips  Not so humorous guide to writing style. However, this one is directed particularly at the style errors in writing for Focus on Learning.

    Check out the lists of verbs to help with your writing  Illustrative Verbs and Action Verbs

    Member Support is a help for new members: good questioning stems, some general questions for focus groups, and guides for good questioning techniques - a combination of many resources.

    Mediational questions promote reflection and the highest level of thinking. Ask questions directed to process rather than content to focus on the thinking process which underlie behavior, performance, decision, or choice.

    THINK before you ask the question. Is it Thoughtful? Is it Helpful? Is is Important? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind?

    Active listening techniques will encourage more open communication.

    Here are a few tips on observing while at the school. A shorthand way of remembering the most important things is to look for three Cs and a E -- curriculum content; challenges to students' cognitive abilities; the classroom and lesson context; and evidence of student engagement. thanks to the Spokane School District for this easy memory device.  If you want a checklist to keep your memory fresh, here's one that will help you capture much! Download and copy it as you need.

    The suggestion is often made to leave a handwritten note in each classroom you visit. Should you adopt this practice, focus on one positive, concrete point that homes in on one thing you appreciate about how they worked with a child or the class that day. Find a strength, express your appreciation for it, and thank the person for letting you visit their classroom. Remember, you need to be very careful in these comments so as not to send "false positivies". Consider using one of these stems to begin.

    • I appreciated...

    • When you did X, I learned Y...

    • I enjoyed the...

    • I heard...

    • I was surprised by...

    • Isn't it amazing that...

    • One thing I noticed in your classroom today...

    The Visiting committee's Wednesday public presentation of the report at the end of the visit is the last, best impression and information for the school. Do it WELL! Consider using a PowerPoint presentation to keep it short and on target. Here are my shells; one for WASC schools which could be used with almost any of the partner associations; and one for WASC-CDE schools. (Don't let that NXPowerpointLite fool you. That's an addin to PowerPoint that shrinks the size of the file.) The background is easy to change to the school's colors. We insert photos of students and staff taken while on campus during the visit and we'll leave a copy with the school so they may share it with other audiences. The last slide is a thank you to the school from the VC - a professionally personal ending. Thanks to an unknown chair for this suggestion. Depending on the circumstances (school, time available, mood), I might leave out the "21st Century Skills" piece. WASC has its versions (quite similar but more formal just make sure you get the correct version) on their website (look in the templates section).

      have some different questions. Here's information for them.

    The WASC website includes some on-line review training.

WASC provides training for individuals who will serve on a Visiting Committee or Chair a visit. If you've not received information, check the WASC website for training dates and sign-up forms.

Self-Study The Visit Ongoing FOL


Copyright 1998-2013 Louise Wright Robertson

Site last modified & updated February 10, 2015