When it comes to change and transformation, a strategy often used to support the process is the classroom visit. The question though is whether the greatest benefit of such walkthroughs and observations is the feedback provided to the teacher or what we learn as an observer? This post was prompted by David Hopkins’ #OpenBlog19 series.
Alexis Wiggins, the daughter of the late Grant Wiggins, shared a reflection on her experience of shadowing a 10th and 12th grade students across two days. The focus was not on providing feedback for teachers, as is often the case, but instead on empathising with the learner. Her revelation was that high school students spend a majority of their time sitting passively and listening. In response, Wiggins left with a range of thoughts about what she would change in her own classroom, such as providing time to stretch, offer brief mini-lessons and dig into personal experiences.
Approaching feedback from the perspective of leadership, Peter DeWitt discusses some of the focuses associated with walkthroughts. This includes cooperative learning vs. cooperative seating or surface level vs. deep level questioning. In conclusion, DeWitt suggests that,
Too many times the success of walkthroughs is a myth because they focus on compliant behavior, and making sure te huachers are covering curriculum. Walkthroughs will be much more successful if they bring about deep learning on the part of students, teachers and the leaders who are doing them.”
What stands out for me is that, like Wiggins, DeWitt’s focus is on learning for all.
Continuing with the idea of learning, Amy Burvall explores the opportunities to engage with and give feedback to colleagues from disparate areas. The intent is to open ourselves to the serendipity. As she states:
The point is I think the more we immerse ourselves in the unexpected – like visiting different grade levels or subject areas – the more we benefit and can see possibilities for our own “classroom worlds”.
Through such strategies as the ‘Wow, How, Now’, Burvall demonstrates the benefits to being open to others.
Exploring effective teaching, Jason Borton discusses how giving all teachers the opportunity to participate allows for ownership over their own accountability.
Raising the performance of our entire teaching team is the focus as well as each teacher taking individual responsibility for improving their implementation of quality teaching practices.
With different teachers released each week, the focus is on collective feedback. However, on the flipside of this, each teacher is then given the opportunity to learn and reflect.
As someone who visits a lot of different schools it is not my play to provide feedback as to how things are. Like a flaneur, I am instead interested the lessons I can learn. Sometimes the best feedback is what we learn as an observer and self-determined learner, I think this is where coaching is so powerful.
As always, intrigued in your thoughts and learnings. Comments welcome.
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