BHS students go about their business during a recent walkthrough.
We are breaking a lot of old traditions here at BHS with our new Look 2 Learning classroom walkthroughs. For starters, administrators and department heads have been an ongoing presence in the BHS classrooms since the start of the year. I know in some of the high schools I have been at and many others I have heard about teachers do not see administrators or department heads in their classrooms during the course of a day, week, month, etc.
A New Focus For 2010
Now as we hit January, administrators and department heads are combining forces and doing walkthroughs together. We will be walking twice weekly together in groups of 3 or 4 to look at learning in the classrooms at BHS in an effort to collect data and create an ongoing conversation about what different aspects of learning look like.
During the course of these walks we are specifically looking at three things:
- Is the objective of the lesson clear to the students?
- What is the level of critical thinking? (Low, Middle, or High on Bloom's Taxonomy)
- What is the level of student engagement? (Engaged, Compliant, or off-task)
A Different Point of View
Another thing that makes this format different is the lens that we look through as guests in the classroom. Most of the other trainings that I have read about for walkthroughs call for the observers to look at the teacher. In the Look 2 Learning model we look at the students and speak to the students about what they are doing during class. The walkthrough team stays in the classroom for 2-4 minutes to gather a snapshot of what is happening before moving onto the next class.
This is also a different experience for teachers who are used to getting specific feedback after having someone visit their class. The goal of this process however is to gather data to present to the entire staff. For instance, based on the focal points above we could present staff with some interesting data after we do walks through 50 classrooms. For instance, in what percentage of these classes are we seeing engagement and higher level critical thinking?
Having groups of individuals enter a class is something new for both staff and students. While we have been talking to staff about this since the beginning of the year, there are sometimes a few raised eyebrows on the part of students when they see a team of adults walk into their class. The surprise grows in some cases when students find themselves being asked questions by these visitors. But through a few open-ended questions (i.e. what are you doing? why do you need to know this?), we learn a lot about the learning in the classroom.
I am eagerly anticipating the addition of teachers to the walkthrough groups in March. Having been involved with teachers on walkthrough teams at some of our monthly Administrative Council Meetings, I have witnessed first hand the rich conversations about student learning that take place when teachers have a chance to see the classrooms of colleagues. As I said in a previous post - I guess it shouldn't be surprising that the staff members who are actually doing the teaching would add significantly to the conversations about student learning.
The goal of all of this is for our staff to model the fact that we are a community of learners who value the process of learning and continue to grow by sharing our experiences with one another and engaging in meaningful discussions about what quality learning looks like.