No Series: The Learning Walk

The Learning Walk

Lesson Objective: Collaboratively observe colleagues
2014 National Teacher of the Year Finalist


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. What are the benefits of doing observations together?
  2. Why is it helpful to observe with a focus?
  3. How could you implement learning walks at your school?


  • Private message to Keith Shelton

Having an open culture is very important. We can all learn from eachother and it doesn't mean that one teacher is better than another but we all have good practices we can share with others. No matter how good a teacher is they can always find a few things to intergrate into their own teaching. The debrief can also be helpful for the teacher that were being watched because they can see what other people see which could be different from what they see of themselves. It is hard to get teachers to buy into this type of activity sometimes but these teachers seem so willing to be observed and observe while learning from eachother. That is an awesome environment they have.

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  • Private message to Vicki Curtis
This is a wonderful video that shows great strategies for getting students involved in learning while also offering opportunities for colleagues to learn from one another. I had a feeling the GT 10 teacher was feeling a little under the gun when her students did not respond right away to her question, especially with three of her colleagues in the room but her ability to think fast and facilitate the students' learning through the pair/share opportunity saved the day! Observing the teacher you are teaching next door to as well as down the hall from, should be built into our so-very-busy teaching years as it can really foster a sense of self-reflection, both for those being observed and for those who de-brief after an observation and share what they gained by watching for 7-10 minutes.
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  • Private message to Linda Ellison
There are plenty of useful ideas to use individually, in small groups or campus/wide.
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  • Private message to Muyibat Folami
This is really great.. What we do in our school is for teachers to practice collaborative learning within themselves.Also the various departmental heads supervise their teachers during lesson delivery to monitor excellent lesson delivery which is aimed at achieving the specific objectives and class control skills, they make comments, tell you your strength and weaknesses so that you can improve on it.. I key into this learning walk idea, its great and I will introduce it in my school
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  • Private message to salam alabst
Great idea to enhance collaboration with the staff at the school .But my question is "do we need to inform observee teachers that will walk into their classes? "
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  • The Learning Walk Transcript

    Speaker 1: Room 11 first.

    Speaker 2: Room 11, okay.

    Speaker 1: I think that we're all products of

    The Learning Walk Transcript

    Speaker 1: Room 11 first.

    Speaker 2: Room 11, okay.

    Speaker 1: I think that we're all products of the professional around us.

    Speaker 3: I'm hoping that you guys are able to make a prediction.

    Speaker 1: I've learned a ton from hearing conversations about how we're approaching subjects.

    Speaker 4: Making sure that it's modeled and that the steps are clear.

    Speaker 1: How we deal with challenges from watching my fellow educators teach, from having an open culture, to having that happen here at the school. It's important to see it in action. The learn and walk is one of the professional development practices that we have here at the [Catskill?] High School. It's the idea of getting together with a few of your colleagues and visiting classrooms throughout the building. Sometimes it has a particular focus. We are looking at engagement for this particular learn and walk. We are focused on engagement, so we are looking for ways teachers have facilitated student engagement strategies specifically or just ways that they've chosen the content of the lesson to engage them, but also just whatever good practices stand out to us. We're going to talk about it later and talk about ways they were doing it and maybe think about ways that we could integrate that into our own classrooms and have that conversation. We get a few teachers together. They opt into taking this walk during their planning period. We choose a few rooms to go into. Sometimes it's pre-planned. We know we have a bio teacher who wants to go into a bio room.

    Speaker 2: We also have an acid.

    Speaker 1: We visit classrooms between 7 and 10 minutes a piece, and we take some notes while we are there.

    Speaker 5: If we had a scale of 1 to 5, who would maybe get what number? Four, yeah. Three or four would be pretty good.

    Speaker 1: When we're finished, we get together and we debrief. We talk about what we saw, and we each kind of bring a little different perspective to the table there.

    Speaker 6: So they're seeing it, and Mr. Spencer is showing the example through the modeling, and they're going to be able to do it.

    Speaker 1: While it might be a valuable thing to do independently, it's so much more valuable to do collaboratively and to see what each person draws out of that experience.

    Speaker 7: [Speaking Spanish] And when you shop, you're what?

    Class: You're buying.

    Speaker 7: [Speaking Spanish] Who said it? DeShawn?

    Speaker 8: Buying.

    Speaker 7: [Speaking Spanish]

    Class: [Speaking Spanish]

    Speaker 7: [Speaking Spanish]

    Class: [Speaking Spanish]

    Speaker 1: All right, so what's it about in Josepha's room, the Spanish class?

    Speaker 8: Her enthusiasm I think it just unparalleled to anything I ever have seen.

    Speaker 7: [Speaking Spanish]

    Speaker 8: I think when you're teaching a world language class, you have to always be on point and animated because some of the kids won't understand what she's saying, but through her gestures.

    Speaker 1: Indeed, yeah.

    Speaker 9: She's pulling out the issues.

    Speaker 7: [Speaking Spanish] Who remembers? [Speaking Spanish]

    Speaker 8: She didn't ask for volunteers, but when she did call on the kids, they all were able to do what she asked of them.

    Speaker 7: [Speaking Spanish]

    Speaker 3: The first thing we want to do is get our temperature test tubes set up. The second thing we're going to do is look at the effects of pH. Mr. Spencer, do you want to take over and show them?

    Speaker 9: So, here's the deal. You want to try to get the liver in without touching the sides the best you can. For temperature, all you got to do is get the liver in and then get your peroxide squirts and record in your chart.

    Speaker 1: As a bio teacher, Andy, first year bio teacher, what do you see about what they did with their lab to make it more engaging for that population?

    Speaker 10: She and Spencer have adapted the lab to include a more visual component, where, like, these kids aren't just going to read the instructions, they're going to draw what they're going to be putting in each and every test tube because some people are more visual learners. it definitely helps a lot of them, so I think that was great.

    Speaker 11: Also, when we walked in, they had the display of what the worksheets were from the lab and so that's another added visual, and Ms. Clark was writing on the white board with the worksheet.

    Speaker 3: Show me thumbs-up if you're comfortable with what we're going to be doing in the lab. Everybody give me a quick visual. Thumbs up, thumbs up.

    Speaker 12: Do you think we can write a syllogism for that? Look back at your page on inductive versus deductive reasoning. So, remember, we need to have a major premise, a minor premise, and then a conclusion.

    Speaker 1: All right, so on to the English classroom with Ms. Dunn. High-level stuff going on there.

    Speaker 12: What does that tell us about his personality or his character?

    Speaker 1: When she asked that question about the syllogism and got nothing from the class, what would it have been like if she had just tried to power through that herself and kind of pull teeth to get an answer?

    Speaker 12: Why don't you guys take a second and talk to your partners about it for just a second?

    Speaker 1: Instead she stopped, talk to a partner, take some time together, and then the responses she got were amazing.

    Speaker 12: Anyone want to add anything? Kayla?

    Speaker 13: He listens before he speaks.

    Speaker 12: Yeah, he definitely does.

    Speaker 11: They were able to analyze the character and how he was feeling about different things.

    Speaker 1: And the variety of responses -- such a good choice to stop and say, "They need time. They need to talk to each other. They need to collaborate." What you find when you walk into another classroom is that you're picking up on things in all areas of practice. So, while you might go in with one focus, you come out with seven different ideas of things you can take into your own classroom. And it's also important to see how your fellow teachers operate with the same students you have, the same student population, the same technology, but what are they able to get students to do in different settings to think about how you can push them in your own classroom. I want you to talk with the people around you, shoulder partner. What's the tone like here at paragraph five?

School Details

Patapsco High & Center For Arts
8100 Wise Ave
Baltimore MD 21222
Population: 1441

Data Provided By:



Sean McComb
Michele Summers
Andy Yancura


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