A Learning Walk is a classroom observation that includes administration and other teachers. It is done in a non-judgmental manner and allows for discussion before the walk and after.

A learning walk is a focussed visit through learning areas, followed by feedback and reflection. But more than this - it is about the 'so what?' What will happen with the data that will improve student learning. This is about the next steps in improving practice, developing school wide focus and also about thinking about education for the future. Is what you are seeing in learning areas really pushing where you think schooling should head, or merely reinforcing the status quo?

Why learning walks?
  • To help us begin a common understanding of our practice through dialogue and mediation of our group thinking
  • To build true collegiality
  • To open classroom doors
  • To learn together
  • To gain common understanding of the learning process

What do you do on a learning walk?
  • We begin by describing what we see together
  • We then predict what w would do as students given the task
  • Finally, we analyze what we saw
  • We do not judge

There are six stages to developing a learning walk - Form - Focus - Footwork - Follow up - Future.

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With Learning Walks the process moves into the classroom. The participant walk in the classroom for a few minutes. If possible, they talk to the students and ask question (listed below). If not, they observe the student interaction in the direct teaching mode.
In the classroom, the Learning Walk participants ask the students the following or similar questions:

1. What are you learning?
2. What are you being asked to do?
3. How is this like something you have already learned?
4. What will you do with this?
5. What will it help you do?
6. Why is it important to know this?

Immediately after, the participants step outside for the debriefing questions:

1. What did you observe that you could take away immediately?
2. What was the teacher enabling the students to do? If you were the student in the classroom and you did exactly what the teacher expected you to do, what would you know how to do?
3. Was the teacher taking the the students to transfer? How do you know?
4. Were the students engaged in meaning making? Did you observe evidence of understanding?
5. What percent of the students were engaged inmeaning making leading to transfer? How do you know? How many were compliant? How do you know?
6. Did you see evidence of authentic learning?
7. How was the release of responsiblity?
8. What could the teacher have done to "kick it up a notch?

The power is in the mediated conversation. However, it is important to honour the teacher's knowing. Also, teachers want feedback after the Learning Walk. Here is the suggested feedback conversation:

  • This is what we took away from the lesson.....
  • We wondered about......
  • This is the suggestion we can make......

Articles for Learning Walks