Step 1: Create the Context

The following five components help to create the context for walk-throughs. No school should wait until all of the components of the context are in place before doing walk-throughs. Indeed, doing walk-throughs will help create this kind of context. Still, walk-throughs are more successful within a culture that has a shared focus and language; ongoing, collaborative adult learning; a data-gathering process; advocacy at every level; and a school signature broadcasting the school's focus (Ginsberg, 2004).

1. A shared language for teaching and learning

Principals can help the entire staff identify an aspect of learning that is important to them.Choosing a focus gives everyone in a school a common language that fits their priorities. One example of an important aspect of learning that can be used to focus staff and build a common language is intrinsic motivation. An example of this focus in provided in the Motivational Framework for Culturally Responsive Teaching. The motivational framework provides four primary conditions that work together for a motivating and equitable pedagogy: Inclusion, Attitude, Competence, and Meaning.
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2. Ongoing, collaborative adult learning.

When schools make collaborative adult learning a regular part of the school day, teachers can share and elaborate on existing knowledge. Shared learning creates a collaborative atmosphere and models lifelong learning for students.

3. Conventional and creative data

Disaggregating conventional data such as standardized tests helps inform teaching. Other data should be used to supplement test scores and provide teachers with a clearer picture of what students are learning. Teachers must be able to gather, analyze, and apply what they learn from the data to modify their practices and improve student learning. Some data gathering processes include data-in-a-day, lesson study, and shadowing students.

4. Advocacy at every level

Advocacy refers to family and community as well as student and district involvement. Garnering advocacy for new ideas at every level is crucial to change. For example, the federal programs coordinator in one district regularly participates in professional development activities with the school based literacy coach and the principal. Participating helps him understand the school's improvement focus and provides him with examples of inspiring teaching practices to share at district meetings.

5. A signature or theme supports a schoolwide spirit of innovation

Having a school or district signature is the final component of context that helps make walk-throughs successful. School renewal can occasionally plateau in the face of mobility, fatigue and competing commitment. One way to maintain focus is by creating a signature. A signature is a theme that excites a school community and integrates academic goals. Schools ask themselves, "What do we want to model for the nation as a visionary demonstration site?"

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