Steps to Classroom Walk-Through

Step 1: Consider the following questions
The following five questions will help you customize your approach to walk-throughs:

1. What are your instructional priorities?
Does your school have a shared instructional language/framework for teaching and learning?

2. How will walk-throughs contribute to other forms of adult collaborative learning?
For example, will walk-throughs contribute to collaborative lesson planning?

3. What other data sources will complement insights from walk-throughs?
For example, is there student learning data that visitors can examine?

4. What kind of feedback do teachers want?
Even if the primary purpose of walk-throughs is to strengthen the visitors' understanding of schoolwide instructional priorities, teachers often appreciate a brief thank you.

5. Will walk-throughs be collaborative?
For example, will small groups visit classrooms together? If so, will the groups be homogeneous or heterogeneous? (e.g. principals and teams of teachers, principals and teachers, principals and district office leaders)
6. In what ways would your approach to walk-throughs be informative to educators in other schools or

Step 2: Engage teachers in planning walk-throughs
The following is a preliminary activity we use to engage teachers in planning walk-throughs:

During a 45-minute staff meeting, six posters are taped on the wall around the room. In groups, with each group starting at a different poster, staff are asked to brainstorm and write responses to the prompt on their paper (with one person as the group’s scribe), after which they would be asked to rotate to the next poster. At the next poster, they add to or—if they agree—underline the responses from the preceding  group. After contributing, in carousel style, to all six posters, the groups arrive back at their original poster. At this point, they look for themes and write a summary statement. They use the following  prompts:

• What are our purposes for brief classroom visits?
• Given district and schoolwide priorities, what is most important
   for visitors to look for when they are in a classroom for five minutes?

• What can visitors do to be respectful?
• What kind of feedback will help us understand and improve teaching
   and learning throughout our school?

• What are some ways we could use feedback so that walk-throughs
   influence teaching and learning?

• What else is important to consider as we develop our approach?
(excerpt from Ginsberg 2011 - Transformative Professional Learning, Corwin Press)

Step 3: Prepare for walk-throughs
Please realize that there is no definitive research on walk-throughs because their purposes are as diverse as the contexts in which they occur. The ideas we provide are one of several ways to approach short visits to a range of classrooms. Although walk-throughs have been also referred to as learning walks and instructional rounds, we use the generic term as a way to unify what we have learned from a variety of approaches.

A sample approach to get started

Step 4: Conduct walk-through visits
Instructional leaders who conduct walk-throughs rely on various tools to document insights. See the link below for a tool we commonly use.

A tool for classroom walk-throughs

Step 5: Share Observations with the whole staff
Most administrators or teacher-leaders use some sort of documentation to share walk-through findings with staff at monthly staff meetings. They typically do not distribute the handouts or any notes and do not identify teachers or classrooms by name. However, visitors at Cleveland High School leave a thank you note on the teachers' desks with a specific positive observation. In addition, and upon request, principals try to be available for follow up conversations.  Learn More

Ginsberg, M.B. (2004) “Classroom Walk-Throughs.” In L. Brown-Easton (ed.), Powerful Designs for Professional Learning. Oxford, OH: National Staff Development Council.