Classroom walkthroughs aren’t designed to be punitive and although we never intend for them to create unnecessary anxiety, anxiety is often the result. To help you ease this tension and reframe the way teachers see classroom walkthroughs, we’d like to share eight tips from Engaging Teachers in Classroom Walkthroughs, a recently published book by Donald Kachur, Judith Stout, and Claudia L. Edwards.
8 tips to reframe the way teachers see classroom walkthroughs
Ensure that you have the support of leadership first
Having the support of your teacher leaders and the school leadership team is critical, so start by meeting with them, explore their ideas, and ask for feedback on your own ideas. Their buy-in and enthusiasm for the process will motivate them to inform, educate and inspire their colleagues to become involved in the walkthrough process.
Clearly communicate the purpose of walkthroughs with leadership
As we mentioned above, many teachers are threatened by walkthroughs, so you will need to explicitly communicate their purpose. This will not only quell anxiety, but also help you and your team decide whether to develop a unique walkthrough model or select an existing one.
Address walkthroughs with your teachers carefully and in detail
For your walkthroughs to be effective, it is important that you earn your teachers’ trust. To do so, ensure that every step of the walkthrough process is transparent. Teachers should know the purpose of walkthroughs and understand the process from inception to evaluation.
Prepare a schedule so that teachers know when you are coming
Your teachers should know when you are going to conduct the classroom. No surprise attacks!
Encourage teachers to volunteer as participants in the teacher walkthrough process
This strategy begins the process of building trust, works out the issues in the early implementation, and allows volunteers to influence their peers’ involvement.
Focus on student learning
We’re here for the students—that’s why we must make student learning, not teachers, the primary target of observations during walkthroughs.
Schedule post-observation meetings
Post-observation meetings are an important part of the process, one that you don’t want to rush through in the hallway or ten minutes before a teacher’s class begins. If you can, schedule these meetings after school or during a planning period—or at the very least, give teachers enough time so they can find a substitute or an administrator to cover their class.`
Post-observation meetings should be open and non-judgmental
When you meet with teachers to discuss observation data, refrain from using evaluative or judgmental comments. The real objective is to allow promising practices, ideas and resources from walkthroughs to be shared among the staff.