Monday, August 1, 2016

School Culture and Classroom Walkthroughs

For some time now, I've considered the value of classroom walkthroughs for improving learning for all of our students. More recently, though, I've been thinking about the utility of the classroom walkthrough to positively influence school culture. As a complement to both the formal and informal classroom observations that occur in schools every day, the walkthrough can provide practitioners with more data to inform their practice. School leaders can then use these data to spark conversations and build trust with the instructional staff, as well as to focus on the many positive components of teaching and learning. I think classroom walkthrough data can have a substantial influence on positive school culture, working towards achieving school goals, and improving learning for all students.

In a recent paper, Garza, Ovando, and O'Doherty (2016) discuss two distinct approaches to the classroom walkthrough: Bureaucratic and Collaborative (you can access this paper here). To summarize, in the bureaucratic approach, the school leader conducts the classroom walkthrough independent of any input, shares the information, and directs the plan of action with the teaching staff. Conversely, in the collaborative approach, teachers work with school leaders to collect and analyze walkthrough data, reflect on their meaning, and develop plans for professional learning and growth. Based on my experiences as a school leader, I think both approaches to the classroom walkthrough have value in positively influencing school culture, working towards achieving school goals, and improving learning for all students.

I'm interested in your perspective, so please consider the following:

  1. Given these two distinct approaches to the classroom walkthrough, as well as the other issues related to the classroom walkthrough presented by Garza, Ovando, and O'Doherty (2016), do you think one lends itself to positively influence school culture more than the other?
  2. Can you foresee a specific school culture that might be better addressed by embracing the other approach to the classroom walkthrough? 
Please share your thoughts.

Garza, R., Ovando, M., & O'Doherty, A. (2016). Aspiring school leaders' perceptions of the walkthrough observation. International Journal of Educational Leadership Preparation, 11(1), 156-173.

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