Tear Down Classroom Walls With Learning Walks
One of the most untapped and useful resources available to us is the experience, practice, and expertise of the professional colleagues on our own campus. Learning Walk are a fun, inexpensive way to immediately impact your own educational practice. As lifelong learners, we seek professional and personal growth through many avenues including conferences, webinars, articles, in-service workshops, presentations, twitter, blogs, etc. These are all elements of our PLNs (Professional Learning Networks). Learning Walks are another powerful, yet underutilized element. This practice is one key towards establishing a professional learning community. Each teacher is expected to complete one learning walk per semester as part of their professional evaluation, but we encourage you to conduct as many learning walks as you would like/as your schedule permits.
What is a Learning Walk?
A learning walk is one part of a multi-faceted, professional learning approach designed to give educators access to their peers’ expertise in short, focused observations. It is an opportunity to unashamedly borrow or steal the best ideas, strategies, and inspiration from our colleagues next door. It brings down walls.
What are Learning Walk norms?
- Learning Walks are not about criticizing the teachers you visit, but rather about growing yourself and seeking to glean insights from the experience and expertise of your colleagues. It’s about you directing your own growth through observation and reflection. You are there to learn.
- Plan your walks in advance, put it on your calendar, coordinate with your Head of Grade.
- Decide on your specific focus in advance – what are you looking for? (ie – one of the standards of professional excellence or how your vertical team members teach a specific math learning outcome, essential outcomes, assessments, use of technology, etc.). Limit your focus to 1-2 specific practices.
- Learning Walks should take 20-30 minutes max. Keep each visit brief – 1-5 minutes in each classroom.
- Observe an entire hallway, building, or vertical team, not just one or two people.
- Learning Walks may or may not be announced in advance. If unannounced, when you enter, you can say, “I’m on a learning walk – just ignore me.”
- If you are being observed, keep teaching. Don’t stop.
- Quietly observe and ask students questions – look for student learning.
- Take notes on what you discover/learn, especially about your specific focus.
- Take a picture. (If you plan to share it on twitter, etc. – make sure it represents the School in a positive light (Be a raving fun publicly).
- Within 24 hours, email the teachers with positive, specific praise about something you learned and took away from their practice.
- Tweet about what you see – try to share useful, applicable practices to other teachers who follow…
- #learningwalk #MVMiddle #MVPSchool (use these hashtags in your tweets so we can all benefit).
- Implement something specific that you learned in your own classroom.