How to Approach Walkthroughs

Whew, its been a while since I’ve spoken here… let me dust off the cobwebs and see if I remember how to do this…

This year, I was “elected” to be the department chair of the humanities; English, Social Studies, the Arts and Foreign Language departments. It sounds prestigious on paper. But it’s just more responsibilities in the form of administrative work. Yet one of the highlights is having the pleasure of conducting walkthroughs of various classes under my authority. I’ve visited a psychology class, Spanish classes, English and history classes. I must say, my colleagues are really doing some great things. Our students are definitely benefitting from learning some great lessons.

But with walkthroughs, there is always some nervousness—on the part of the teacher being observed. But a walkthrough is not quite an observation. The person “walking-through” is only there for 5 to 10 minutes, jots down a few notes and quietly leaves. But teachers still get nervous when someone comes to watch them teach.

One of my teachers came to me with questions: when are you coming, will you let us know when you’re coming, how long will you stay, what should I have on the board, what will you be looking for, etc. After calming her down, I explained that this wasn’t an observation, that I would just be checking in to see how things were going and offer support where needed.

She seemed relieved.

If you are subject to walkthroughs at your school, and you’re a bit concerned about them, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Keep it normal / be natural – don’t change up your classroom procedure or your disposition. Also, don’t alarm your students. Do what you do and know that you’re doing your best always.
  2. Make sure lesson plans are posted and updated – Your guest will want to know what you’re teaching to give good feedback. Make sure your plans are up to date and ready for anyone wanting to check out your class.
  3. Observe (and practice) any mandated protocols – whatever your school has mandated that you have on the board, on the walls and around the classroom, make sure you’re in compliance.
  4. Always stay ready – There’s no need to get ready for a walkthrough or observation when you stay ready for it.
  5. Remember that a walkthrough is not an observation – this is an opportunity for you to get help and feedback where you need it. See this as a chance to get support to improve your practice.

Don’t fret when you hear that someone is coming to your classroom to see what’s going on. Look at it as an opportunity to show what your students can do and for you to get feedback on what’s working, what’s not and utilizing that data to improve your classroom practice.

Let’s continue to press towards the mark.


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