Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Learning Walks: Prep, Anticipation, and Execution

Part One: Anticipation
Today our fifth grade team will be one focus of the administrative learning walks. I admit I didn't volunteer for this, but when my colleague said yes, I went along with her decision. In general, I'm not a fan of learning walks since I believe it's too shallow compared to a deeper process of education conversation, planning, assessment, analysis, and development.

That being said, there have already been a number of positive results from this effort including the following:
  • I took a deeper look at expectations since I knew that's what the administrative team will focus on.
  • I made time to do a deep clean and organization of classroom materials and supplies. Similar to having company at your home, visitors inspire a deep clean.
  • I re-made a number of guiding posters and messages in the classroom too.
  • We prepared for these walks as a team which benefitted my preparation and lesson to come. 
As I think of these positives, I recognize that this must be an agreeable list for any administrator doing learning walks--they want to inspire those kinds of actions in their schools and amongst their educators.

So when the leaders walk in today, I'll put my best foot forward. I'll look forward to their responses and consider their commentary carefully as I continue to develop and grow the overall teaching program and, in particular, the science teaching program which is the focus of their visit. Fortunately I know all of the visitors and their fine reputations as educators and responsive, sensitive, and experienced leaders. Onward.

Part Two
I want to jot down notes from the learning walk while they're fresh. There were lots of positives and some areas for growth too.

What worked:

  • Good lesson progression
  • Nice level of student independence, conversation, collaboration
  • Use of roles
  • Organization of materials
What could be better:
  • Focus question card that's more prominent in the classroom
  • Better vocabulary cards that students can use as they write their explanations
  • More practice with roles and what each role means (I may start using the roles in math too to provide greater practice)
  • Reminder that students are supposed to stay in their own lab space during the experiment
  • Meaningful time to write, read, and share at end of lesson
All in all it was a good lesson. I'll be interested to see what the observers have to say. Onward.