From Appraisals to Collaboration: The True Purpose of Learning Walks

Imagine walking into a classroom and observing students engaging with the material firsthand. This is exactly what Learning Walks provide for school staff members. These visits offer an important opportunity for teachers to better understand their students’ learning processes and identify areas that need improvement or development. They also empower principals to gain invaluable insights into classroom workings, allowing them to make informed decisions that benefit their teachers and students alike.

But Learning Walks aren’t just about evaluations or performance management monitoring. If undertaken correctly, they provide a safe space for teachers to collaborate on the best teaching practices, offer feedback and support, and foster open dialogue between all parties involved. These non-intimidating visits create a mutual respect between staff and administrators, allowing for honest and natural teaching processes.

Effective school leaders are invested in exploring the growth of children’s learning habits, rather than just focusing on school improvement like a traditional inspector. By concentrating on the student’s educational journey, Learning Walks can make a more beneficial imprint on the quality of education they receive. These visits center around what is best for students and not solely about those leading it.

With this in mind, how can Learning Walks can benefit classrooms each day. By getting to the root of what goes on in schools every day, Learning Walks are an invaluable tool for educators. So let’s explore this popular approach and discover how it can be used to improve school performance far beyond just appraisals. Let’s answer the question: What is the main purpose of Learning Walks?

To create dependable data, it is essential to watch the learning process in action within classrooms. School leaders could go on classroom tours or execute regular “learning walks” to observe any progressions taking place. Through performing an initial learning walk, they can acquire a heightened comprehension of particular needs and demands, along with evaluating which educational approaches are having positive outcomes over time.

Learning Walks are an invaluable experience for educators who wish to increase their skills and breadth of knowledge in the classroom. While observing teachers during walks is a great way to understand what new practices they could incorporate into their own classrooms, the real benefits come after when dialogue and self-reflection occur. This can help them better comprehend how what they are currently teaching measures up to others and provide them understanding of new ideas that can be implemented for improved student success. Self-reflection also adds personal value, as it encourages teachers to be reflective about their practice, define areas that need improvement, and push themselves to strive for excellence in instructions.

In practice, the main advantages of engaging in the process of Learning Walks are as follows.

  • During a Learning Walk, an experienced lead educator is present to provide meaningful commentary and support so that by the end of it, teachers have the necessary tools to reflect on their practice and make the adjustments needed for better student outcomes.
  • Learning walks provide an excellent opportunity to enhance collaboration, and therefore student learning, within a classroom. They are an effective way to promote shared responsibility and ensure that all members of the learning community contribute to setting the expectations of students’ learning. Learning walks can help teachers gain real-time insights into how their teaching strategies are impacting student learning, while also increasing efficiency through collaborative data collection. With a unifying focus on developing strong relationships, providing meaningful feedback and informing instruction, learning walks have undeniably had a positive impact on student engagement and ownership for their own academic performance.
  • Learning Walks provide an invaluable opportunity to observe the teaching and learning process in close detail. This allows trained observers to not only identify effective teaching practices, but also to pinpoint areas of improvement so that teachers can better serve their students and colleagues. Through this crucial process, a school staff can ensure that expertise is shared meaningfully among all its members in order to enhance student learning outcomes and maximize their potential.
  • Learning Walks provide staff with an incredibly valuable professional development opportunity. By observing different styles of teaching and exchanging ideas, staff can learn from each other’s experiences and create new approaches to instruction. This form of learning helps academics recognize areas that need improvement while also fostering a culture of collaboration and open communication across the organisation. Ultimately, Learning Walks embody the notion that strong teams are built on mutual respect and collective success – when teachers collaborate their individual skills become positively amplified!

Author: Dr Jake Madden

Jake Madden (Dip Teach; B.Ed; Grad Dip: Leadership; M. Ed: Leadership; EdD; FACEL; MACE) Dr. Jake Madden is currently the Principal, St Edward’s Primary School, Tamworth. He has enjoyed a successful teaching and principal leadership career over the last thirty years building teacher capacity through the development of learning in the contemporary world, the promotion of flexible learning spaces to meet the needs of the 21st century learner and curriculum for global mindedness. Jake is a leader in the notion of teacher-as-researcher and is widely published in this area, authoring and co-authoring books and a number of journal articles showcasing his experiences and research into leading educational change.

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