Mr Kemp NZ

Classroom Walkthroughs – Inspirational PD for your school

Classroom Walkthroughs are one of the most inspirational forms of Professional Development I have ever been a part of in Education (beyond Twitter).
I was first exposed to this idea at my school in Dunedin when our new Principal, Mr Chris McKinlay started at Grant’s Braes School many years ago. He brought in a positive change to the culture of the school and with that came the willingness to share and be proud of what you are doing as a professional educator. From this culture change, the idea of ‘classroom walkthroughs’ was born and actively adopted by all members of our teaching staff.
Classroom walkthroughs can be done in a variety of ways. I am going to share with you the two different ways that I have seen, utilised and set up these exciting opportunities in schools.
The first way, run by Chris at my previous school in New Zealand, was as follows:
Please note, this particular example works well for small schools (under approx. 250 students).
1.      Discuss concept with Leadership team and come up with 4 topics for the year
2.      Assign topics to a school term (e.g. Inquiry = Term 1)
3.      Introduce concept to staff at a professional development session and give examples of how it works – share ideas for the school year.
4.      Every term, a date is given to staff for the classroom walkthrough sessions (normally in the second to last week or last week of term – for ‘celebration of learning’) and the theme is provided.
5.      Prior to the sessions (e.g. a week or 2 before), lead teachers ensure staff know what they will share (in their 2-5 minute time slot) and this is prepared.
6.      On Classroom walkthrough day staff walk through the classrooms (in any order, but in this case we always went youngest to oldest students to see development) and teachers share their related topic. For example, a term theme of mathematics allows teachers to share anything interesting they have done in mathematics for the term, or technology gives teachers the chance to be proud of their learning, no matter where they are at.
7.      Staff share, collaborate and discuss the variety of examples of practice shared.  
The second way, was an adaption of what I had learnt and experienced in New Zealand and had to be adjusted for my new school in Singapore:
Please note, this particular example works well for schools based over a larger campus or multiple campuses (over approx. 250 students). These are the steps I took when implementing this initiative based entirely around the integration of technology at my international school in Singapore. Please note that this is a model only and all aspects can be changed and developed (however, this has been extremely successful in its first year).
1.      Discuss concept with Leadership team and how it will work (based around technology)
2.      Assign dates for the school year. One date in Week 8-10 for every term.
3.      Introduce concept to staff at a professional development session in January and give examples of how it works – share ideas for the school year. This was used as an ‘engage and inspire’ session – it is important to stress that this is for you as an individual to be proud of your achievements – do not compare yourself to others – take your learning one step at a time with technology – celebrate the things your students have achieved using technology.
4.      During the early-mid stages of the term I go through the classrooms looking at their integration. We discuss technology integration when planning units at the beginning of each term and follow up on this. This is a powerful stage for me as an integrator, as I am able to gauge where teachers are at with their technology use and if required I can model suitable activities or guide staff through a process.
5.      About three to four weeks before our ‘celebration’ session I check in with each lead teacher (1 per year level). This is to remind them that I need at least 1 person to share from each year level (preferably more). I made this compulsory to ensure there was some accountability by staff – I needed to know that teachers took technology integration seriously to support the learning of the students.
6.      Two weeks out I discuss with teachers what they will be sharing (there is an expectation for every staff member to share at least twice throughout the year (50% of sessions). Staff share what they have been doing and I help them put together a short 2-5 minute presentation (can just be verbal or sharing examples of work, it doesn’t matter). For example, in the last session, we had staff sharing on their use of an interactive whiteboard, wordle, mathletics, voki, classdojo and many useful websites and interactive games to support learning.
7.      The difference with our sessions here is that we do not walk through classrooms as our school is split across 2 campuses so we use our meeting room and stay in one spot.
8.      On ‘Technology Integration Celebration” day, we go through our presenters in a random order and teachers share their related topic. Often staff have hand-outs or websites to share and teachers get the opportunity to ask questions
9.      Staff share, collaborate and discuss the variety of examples of practice shared. 
10.  It is a truly inspiring and exciting way of sharing learning and I believe it is critical for staff, as learners, to do this regularly. I have had a lot of positive feedback from staff regarding this process, as it is interactive and inspiring to see what others are doing, no matter where you are on your learning journey. Next year we are looking at ways we can use this process in other professional development across the school to actively inspire teachers.
The important thing here is the overarching concept – the umbrella idea – the idea that sharing is an important part of our learning as teachers – that collaboration is what we allow our students to do and as learners, we should be doing the same on a regular basis.
I hope this outlines the process and gives you an idea of what we have achieved in such a short time. It is also something that any school can pick up and do and I am more than happy to help schools out in starting something like this. If you do want to chat further about this please do contact me via twitter @mrkempnz or contact me directly through the messages forum below and we can organise a Skype chat.
Please feel free to share this with your friends and colleagues.
Kia Kaha.

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Craig Kemp

Craig Kemp

I am a passionate Global EdTech Consultant based in Singapore but working with Schools and EdTech companies all over the world. I am a lifelong learner, dream creator and thought leader. I love to inspire others and find inspiration. Co-founder of #whatisschool, #asiaED edchats and #pubPD.

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Loved this Craig! We’re currently doing them haphazardly to tick off a box for appraisal. Not everyone gets the importance and relevance of it to share… but I’ll be sharing your post with a few others to see if it can change their mind on using it more effectively to begin to collaborate more in school.

  • This is really great. I would like to hear more about how you set up and organized the actual walk through. Did you develop a form? Reflection sheet ? How many staff were present for the observations ? Super!!

  • Thank you for your comment Cindy – great to get some feedback from you.
    The walkthroughs happen differently every term and we run one session a term. In my previous school (smaller) staff would let me know what they were sharing and I would record in a table. We would then start at one end of the school, spend 5-6 minutes in each room and they would be set up ready to go. They would then fill in a reflection form and the next staff meeting we would reflect on our sessions. In my current school (much larger and over 2 campuses), we come to one space (follow the same format) but we do not walk around classrooms, teachers bring their stuff to the presentation and share.
    It is a compulsory session every term.
    Would lvoe to help more.
    DM me if needed

  • Great non threatening way of sharing ideas and connecting. Like the idea of planning what to show rather than just random walk throughs. We share but more through staff meetings and wikis etc. nothing like seeing planned purposeful learning and sharing to help both teachers PDL and reflection. Love the term “Umbrella” to relate to the learning.
    leonie_hastings. Rm2 Riverslea

  • How do you gauge the impact of these walks? Have you any evidence of changes on practice and do these impact on learning?

  • Thanks for your question James. It is an extremely powerful tool. The impact is easy to gauge. All staff have follow up sessions with their “coach” (see coaching article) as well as tech related sessions with me and their assistant principal as part of our review process. Demonstrations of this learning and the impact it has on the engagement of students is critical to the process. No data if that is what you are asking about but something that we are in the process of looking at developing and recording. Any advice would be greatly appreciated 🙂 Thanks again for your reflective question.

  • Thanks for this example of instructional leadership. I like the two general overviews in different schools which you have presented. Walkthroughs are typically short – 5 minutes or so, is not meant to be evaluative as you have stated, and presents ways to co-construct and co-lead. We share a similar model here in BC. It will only work if a culture of trust is established and the leadership team buys in. Would be interested in knowing the process in a school of 1100 to 2000 students in an inner city school.

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