The Walk-Through is a model to improve and increase academic achievement. The Walk-Through is designed to help teachers reflect upon their teaching practice and improve instruction and student learning. Principals in our district have been trained in this non-evaluative process to provide reflective dialogue to teachers to encourage their growth and development. The Walk-Through has two components: observation and reflection.
The Observation Component
The Walk-Through observation is a short, focused, and informal observation of only 3-4 minutes. It is a time to gather information about the practices and decisions a teacher is making regarding curriculum and instruction. An observer uses the following five areas to help focus his/her short time in the classroom:
Student Engagement The observer notes to what extent the students appear to be oriented to the work in the classroom.
Curriculum The observer looks for the curriculum objective/GLIs being taught (content, context and cognitive level) for congruence to district curriculum.
Instruction The observer looks for the teaching practices and strategies being used.
Walking the Walls The observer looks at (1) student work on the walls; (2) display of objectives/GLIs, and (3) charts and/or teacher created work, all supportive of the GLIs currently being taught.
Safety and Health Issues The observer notes any particular safety or health issues and determines the degree to which the climate promotes learning.
There is no checklist of items or judgments made with the observation component. This informal observation can provide information to teachers that might be useful for them in considering and reflecting on their planning and decision-making about teaching and learning. The Walk-Through is about colleagues working together to help each other reflect on their own teaching practice.
The Reflection Component
After several observations in a classroom, the observer may develop a reflective question if he/she notes a given area of teaching and learning that might be enhanced from reflective conversation. The opportunity for reflection is to enable all educators to become reflective thinkers, be responsible for their own growth, and continuously analyze their teaching practice. This reflective conversation occurs only occasionally and not after every visit.
Administrators have been encouraged to do Walk-Throughs in their buildings every day. The more they visit a classroom, the less disruptive it becomes. Also, the frequency of the observers’ visits should lower teacher apprehension over time, making it less disruptive for the teacher as well. The goal is to empower educators to become self-reflective, self-analyzing, interdependent teachers who examine their own teaching practice. Reflective dialogue enables teachers and administrators to work together to accomplish this and ultimately increase academic achievement for students.