What To “Look-For” During Classroom Walkthroughs

Samantha James

Samantha James

January 25, 2024
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The term “Look-for” in the context of classroom walkthroughs and teacher evaluations refers to the specific elements or indicators that an observer should be attentive to during the process. These can be behaviors, practices, or artifacts that provide evidence of effective teaching and learning. The “Look-for” approach is a critical tool in the process of improving teaching quality and student outcomes.

Classroom walkthroughs and teacher evaluations are essential components of a comprehensive school improvement strategy. They provide valuable insights into the teaching and learning process, helping identify areas of strength and improvement. The “Look-for” approach enhances the effectiveness of these processes by providing a clear and focused framework for observation and evaluation.

Understanding the “Look-for” Approach

The “Look-for” approach is based on the idea that effective teaching and learning can be identified through specific, observable indicators. These indicators are often derived from research on effective teaching practices and are designed to be clear, measurable, and actionable. They provide a common language for discussing teaching and learning and help to focus the observation process on the most critical aspects of classroom practice.

Using the “Look-for” approach during classroom walkthroughs and teacher evaluations involves identifying these indicators before the observation, being attentive to them during the observation, and using them as a basis for feedback and discussion after the observation. This approach helps to ensure that the observation process is focused, systematic, and aligned with the school’s instructional goals.

Components

The “Look-for” approach typically involves three main components: the indicators themselves, the observation process, and the feedback process. The indicators are the specific elements or behaviors the observer seeks. These can be related to a variety of aspects of teaching and learning, including lesson planning, instructional strategies, classroom management, student engagement, and assessment practices.

The observation process involves the actual walkthrough or evaluation, during which the observer looks for the identified indicators. This process should be systematic and consistent, with the observer using the indicators as a guide to focus their attention and gather evidence. The feedback process involves discussing the observation with the teacher and using the evidence gathered to provide constructive, actionable feedback.

Benefits

The “Look-for” approach offers several benefits for classroom walkthroughs and teacher evaluations. First, it provides a clear and focused framework for observation, helping to ensure that the process is systematic and aligned with the school’s instructional goals. This can make the observation process more efficient and effective.

Second, the “Look-for” approach provides a common language for discussing teaching and learning. This can facilitate more productive conversations between teachers and observers, helping to foster a culture of continuous improvement. Finally, the “Look-for” approach can help to promote consistency in the observation process, ensuring that all teachers are evaluated using the same criteria.

Developing “Look-for” Indicators

Developing effective “Look-for” indicators is a critical step in implementing the “Look-for” approach. These indicators should be based on research on effective teaching practices and should be clear, measurable, and actionable. They should also be aligned with the school’s instructional goals and the specific context of the classroom.

There are several strategies that can be used to develop “Look-for” indicators. One approach is to start with a broad list of potential indicators and then narrow it down through a process of discussion and consensus-building. Another approach is to use existing frameworks or rubrics for effective teaching as a starting point. Regardless of the approach used, it’s important to involve teachers in the process to ensure that the indicators are relevant and meaningful.

Examples

“Look-for” indicators can cover a wide range of aspects of teaching and learning. For example, indicators related to lesson planning might include evidence of clear learning objectives, alignment between activities and objectives, and use of formative assessment to guide instruction. Indicators related to instructional strategies might include use of questioning to promote critical thinking, differentiation to meet diverse learning needs, and use of feedback to guide student learning.

Indicators related to classroom management might include evidence of clear routines and procedures, positive teacher-student relationships, and a safe and supportive learning environment. Indicators related to student engagement might include evidence of active participation, student-to-student interaction, and student ownership of learning. These are just a few examples of the many possible “Look-for” indicators.

Implementing the “Look-for” Approach

Implementing the “Look-for” approach involves more than just developing a list of indicators. It also involves training observers to use the indicators effectively, creating a systematic process for conducting observations and establishing a process for providing feedback based on the observations.

Observers training should include an overview of the “Look-for” approach and specific guidance on using the indicators during observations. Observers should also be trained in how to provide constructive, actionable feedback based on the evidence gathered during the observation. This training can be provided through workshops, coaching, or other professional development opportunities.

Conducting Observations

Conducting observations using the “Look-for” approach involves using the indicators as a guide to focus attention and gather evidence. Observers should be systematic and consistent in their approach, looking for each indicator in turn and taking notes on what they observe. It’s important to remember that the goal is not to check off each indicator as either present or absent, but to gather a rich, nuanced picture of the teaching and learning process.

After the observation, observers should review their notes and use them to provide feedback to the teacher. This feedback should be specific, constructive, and based on the evidence gathered during the observation. It should also be actionable, providing clear suggestions for improvement.

Challenges and Solutions

While the “Look-for” approach offers many benefits, it also presents some challenges. One common challenge is ensuring that all observers use the indicators consistently. This requires ongoing training and calibration to ensure that all observers have a common understanding of the indicators and how to use them.

Another challenge is ensuring that the feedback provided is constructive and actionable. This requires observers to be skilled in providing feedback and deeply understand effective teaching practices. Providing observers with ongoing professional development and support can help address these challenges.

Overcoming Challenges

Overcoming the challenges associated with the “Look-for” approach requires ongoing effort and commitment. Regular training and calibration sessions can help ensure that all observers use the indicators consistently. These sessions can also provide opportunities for observers to share their experiences and learn from each other.

Providing ongoing professional development and support for observers can also help to enhance their skills in providing feedback. This can include workshops on effective feedback strategies, coaching sessions, and opportunities to observe and learn from experienced observers. By investing in these supports, schools can enhance the effectiveness of the “Look-for” approach and promote continuous improvement in teaching and learning.

Conclusion

The “Look-for” approach provides a powerful tool for enhancing the effectiveness of classroom walkthroughs and teacher evaluations. Providing a clear and focused framework for observation helps ensure that these processes are systematic, consistent, and aligned with the school’s instructional goals. Moreover, providing a common language for discussing teaching and learning can facilitate more productive conversations and foster a culture of continuous improvement.

Implementing the “Look-for” approach requires careful planning and ongoing effort. It involves developing effective indicators, training observers, creating systematic observation processes, and establishing effective feedback processes. Despite these challenges, the benefits of the “Look-for” approach make it a worthwhile investment for schools committed to improving teaching and learning.