Conduct Classroom Walkthroughs Regularly and Provide Effective Feedback
Understand the purpose of the three types of walkthroughs.
- Implementation Walkthrough: Purpose is to determine if the reading program is being implemented as planned.
- Instructional Walkthrough: Purpose is to determine if the instruction being delivered within the classroom reflects what we know about instructional effectiveness.
- Informational Walkthrough: Purpose is to determine if the students are learning from the instruction being provided, and what evidence exists to back up this statement.
Share with staff a rationale for the walkthrough process based on the connection between walkthroughs and student achievement.
- The walkthrough process is a manifestation of instructional leadership.
- Instructional leadership leads to greater teacher effectiveness.
- Effective teaching yields increased student achievement.
Consistently plan time to complete the walkthrough process.
- Monitoring the reading program and its effectiveness is essential to achieving goals.
- Naturally occurring time demands in the leader’s daily schedule necessitate scheduling time for walkthroughs into a daily or weekly calendar.
- Several strategies are available which make completing planned walkthroughs more likely.
Communicate with staff about the walkthrough process before beginning to conduct walkthroughs.
- Staff participation and buy-in is critical to making the walkthrough process work.
- Be sure that staff understand the purpose and process of the walkthrough routine.
- Engage staff in identifying walkthrough “look-fors" and in understanding the rationale for those that are identified by the leaders.
- Debrief with staff periodically regarding the walkthrough process (at least annually) to resolve any issues and to refine the process.
Focus observations on the variables that make the greatest difference in improving student achievement.
- Focused “look fors” are essential for addressing basic implementation components and critical instructional variables.
- “Look fors” should be linked to program goals and to areas of documented need.
- “Look fors” should be differentiated based on grade, instructional level and identified student needs.
- All staff should be made aware of “look fors” to be addressed during walkthroughs.
Plan follow-up steps to ensure that identified needs are addressed.
- Without follow-up, improvement stemming from the walkthrough process is less likely.
- Make the follow-up action from one walkthrough a “look for” for subsequent ones.
- Engage staff in identifying ways to support implementation of suggested actions.
Professional Development Presentation
Establishing the Walkthrough Process at your school will not only clarify your role as instructional leader, but also strengthen the school culture of instructional effectiveness of all staff. This presentation illustrates the importance of building trust and collaboration, while communicating to staff that the Walkthrough process is separate from the evaluative process. Recommended strategies and potential obstacles to avoid are presented to help strengthen the connection between instructional leadership, teacher effectiveness and student achievement.
Apply the Concepts
1. Conversations About the Walkthrough Process
- Refer to the document entitled “The Instructional Walkthrough Process: Suggestions for Follow-Up and Next Steps.”
- Identify the talking points or agenda items for the conversations to be held (with supervisor, with staff) before beginning the walkthrough process. These may include the purpose of the process, steps in the process, difference between walkthroughs and evaluation process, forms or tools to be used, issues or concerns of the staff, and so on.
- Schedule the conversations. Use your talking points/agenda to guide the discussion. Then seek a consensus on support for implementation of the walkthrough process.
2. Finding Time to Conduct Walkthroughs
- Refer to the section of the lesson presentation dealing with strategies for finding time to conduct walkthrough sessions (Slides 7-14).
- Review the “time-finding” strategies in this section.
- Identify one or two strategies that you think could work for you
- Ask the person in the role suggested in the strategy to support you in implementing the walkthrough process.
- Try this strategy for a short period of time (a week, a month), then evaluate the strategy. If it is working, continue its use; if not, try another strategy until you find one that works for you.
3. Practice in Conducting the Walkthrough Process
- Set up your first few walkthrough visits once you have notified your staff that you will be starting the process and have had an initial conversation with them about it.
- Strongly consider doing several of your initial visits with a job-alike colleague (e.g., another principal) from a nearby school or with a staff member from your school who has been trained in the walkthrough process. This will allow you both to refine your observation & follow-up skills and will provide support for the process.
- Choose either the Five-Minute Observation Form or Classroom Walkthrough Checklist as a tool for conducting your first several walkthrough visits—assuming that you have shared these tools with the teachers whose classes you’ll be visiting. Both you and your walkthrough partner should use the same form or checklist.
- Alternately, use whatever tools or checklists you have discussed with your staff as a basis for guiding your walkthrough observations.
- After each classroom visit of about five minutes, step into the hallway or a nearby quiet area and discuss what you noticed about the instruction being provided in the classroom with your walkthrough partner. Compare notes on what each of you thinks are the most important points to discuss with the teacher when s/he is available. Once you agree on the most important focal points (those with the greatest potential to enhance student learning), jointly identify the talking points and, if helpful, the conversation starter or opening lines you choose for beginning the conversation. (Note: Determine whether you will meet with the teacher by yourself or if your walkthrough partner will also be involved. This can only be determined by the local context and the nature of the instruction observed.)
- Carry out the conversation (probably five minutes or less) with the teacher at the first available opportunity (preferably the same day). In keeping with the purpose and guidelines for an effective walkthrough process, be careful to guide the conversation in a manner that is collaborative and not supervisory (e.g., a two-way, and not a one-way conversation).
4. Identifying "Look Fors" for the Walkthrough Process
- Refer to the document, “Detailed ‘Look Fors’ for Conducting Walkthroughs During Comprehensive Reading Program Instruction.”
- Refer also to the “Look Fors” section of the lesson presentation (PowerPoint) for this module for other sources of “look for” ideas.
- Focus only on a few “look fors” at one time. Always be sure that those you will be observing in the walkthrough process have been informed about the current “look fors.” Identify the “look fors” you would like to focus on in your implementation of the walkthrough process in its early stage; also identify other “look fors” you would like to add to the list once the process has become established.
- Hold a discussion with your supervisor and with those whom you will be observing in the walkthrough process to let them know what “look fors” you recommend focusing upon initially. Seek their input on these items and other ideas they have.
- Finalize your list of initial “look fors” and communicate these to the staff. Let staff know as new items are added to the list of “look fors”.
1. Five-Minute Walkthroughs
(K-12) This document provides an open-ended form to remind the observer what kinds of things to look for during classroom walkthroughs and what points to follow up on when debriefing with the teacher. Useful for classroom visits at any grade level and especially helpful for the observer who has good knowledge of what s/he wants to see when visiting classrooms.
2. Five-Minute Observation Form
(K-3) This classroom observation form can be used to focus on features of reading instruction as well as to note the teacher’s instructional strengths and areas to suggest for development.
3. Classroom Walkthrough Checklist
(K-3) This observation form can be used to look for and comment on various aspects of a) instruction, b) student engagement, and c) teacher behaviors as part of the walkthrough process.
4. Classroom Walkthrough Checklist Focused on English Learners
Classroom Walkthrough Checklist with a focus on teaching reading to students who are English Language Learner (ELL) students. Modifications focus on those elements of instruction that are most critical in allowing students who are not yet fluent in English to learn to read in English successfully.
5. Detailed "Look Fors" for Conducting Walkthroughs During Comprehensive Reading Program Instruction
This document identifies several key “look fors” to guide the walkthrough process during teacher-led instruction using a core reading program. It also provides a rationale for each “look for” and a series of questions and suggestions to guide use of these strategies.
6. The Instructional Walkthrough Process: Suggestions for Follow Up and Next Steps
This resource provides several suggestions to consider before implementing an instructional walkthrough process, for use early in the process of conducting walkthroughs and to guide the process once it is well established. It can be used to plan or guide the walkthrough process at the school or district level.
7. What to Look for When Visiting Classrooms
This resource provides guidance regarding what to look for while conducting walkthroughs. In addition to a general list of teacher behaviors to look for, this document also contains a setting-specific list of behaviors to look for depending on the type of activity that students are involved in at the time of the walkthrough.
8. The three-minute classroom walkthrough: Changing school supervisory practice one teacher at a time
The three-minute classroom walk-through: Changing school supervisory practice one teacher at a time. Downey, C.J., Steffy, B.E., English, F.W., Frase, L.E., and Poston, W.K. (2004). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
9. Positive Feedback Statements to Teachers and Other Instructional Group Leaders
This document gives guidelines for feedback statements to use in follow-up discussions with teachers. In addition to providing general guidelines that ensure the statements are positive and productive, this resource also gives specific examples of both statements to use as well as statements to avoid.
10. Walkthrough Training: Follow-up Scenarios
This document contains guidelines for discussions with teachers after a walkthrough. It provides suggestions for how to approach these conversations depending on the type and degree of intervention that is required.