2.3 Learning Teaching and Assessment – Learning and Engagement.
An Alford Academy Lesson – Walk Through Guidance (v.17.09.29D)
Guidance for the Walk Through Team
Thank you for agreeing to join the Walk Through Team. We hope that you will find this an interesting and enjoyable experience, and that in reflecting upon the experience and observations you will have, it will help you to develop your own classroom practice, as well as providing opportunities to discuss and share examples of good practice you have observed.
All members of the teaching staff are welcome to volunteer to be a part of the team, and each of us, whatever our prior experience, has an important contribution to make to our whole school understand and evaluation of learning and teaching at Alford Academy.
A Walk Through Window is just one aspect of classroom visits and has the following aims.
- To inform holistic judgements about the quality of learning at whole school and faculty level.
- To inform future priorities for improvements and priorities in learning and teaching
- To provide a benchmark against which future improvements can be measured. For session 2017-18 this includes considering aspects of learning directly related to the Cluster Improving Pedagogy programme.
- To provide opportunities for the identification of good practice.
- To provide professional learning opportunities for members of the walk through team.
- To stimulate professional discussion in connection with learning and teaching.
The walk through are NOT about
- Assessing the quality of learning and teaching of individual teachers.
Walkthroughs should only take place where advance notice has been given, and where the purpose and focus of the visits has been shared.
BEFORE A VISIT
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Before visiting a class, it is important to check the grid on each classroom door to ensure that no one individual teacher is experiencing a disproportionate number of visitors, for a particular period or in close succession. Initial the relevant box before you enter the class.
Depute Head Teachers are expected to have visited all members of their faculty in addition to any other faculties they may be able to visit. Other members of the team are encouraged to visit any available class based on their availability.
Initial the relevant box before you enter the class. Try and prefill the first section of the walk through form.
Wherever possible, on arrival at a classroom, a visitor should discretely check-in with the classroom teacher and confirm that they are OK for you to visit at that time.
It would be considered good practice to knock on the door (open or closed) on arrival. Either ask verbally “Is it OK to join the class for a walk through?”, or use a hand signal (two fingers pointed down and wiggling, as if walking). Once the teacher acknowledged, join the class. If for any reason the visit is not appropriate at that time, thank the member of staff and leave. This should be noted on the door grid by scoring through your initials.
Even experienced staff, and their pupils can sometimes become nervous when a visitor arrives at their class, so it is important to try and make both feel relaxed and at ease. Even through you yourself may be nervous at taking on the role of visitor, remember to smile!
Depending on the activity the class is engaged with, there are a number of suggested ways to observe or interact with the class.
- Sit or stand at the back of the class – this can be helpful during activities where you wish to minimise your presence and observe whole class activities. If you can sit, this would be encouraged.
- Sit or stand at the front of the class – this can be helpful during activities where you wish to be able to see, and read, the facial expressions of the pupils. An observer siting at front of the class is likely to be less intrusive than one standing.
- Sit next to an individual or group of pupils – this can give a sense of being part of the class, and allows you to hear not only what the teacher may be sharing but also any discussion the pupils may have. It would be considered good practice to ask a pupil if it was OK to sit next to them, or to join their group.
- Walk about – As long as there is not direct class teaching, walking about and observing pupils more closely.
- If the class teacher involves you in the lesson please go along with this as far as you are comfortable.
- Speaking to individuals or groups of pupils.
- Join in – this can help you experience the lesson as a pupil, and shows the pupils that you are there to learn,
- If the teacher starts speaking to the class while you are speaking to one of their pupils, pause your own conversation and encourage the pupil to give their full attention to their teacher.
- If a pupil asks why you are there, you may wish to share that you are “visiting classes to find out about learning in different subject areas”.
Wherever possible invite a pupil to complete the second section of the walk through form. If this is not possible ask the host teacher, if this is not possible as observer please complete it as far as you are able.
When you leave a group of pupils who have been sharing their work, or experiences with you, please remember to thank them.
A visitor should try and avoid staying too long in a classroom, but should also be aware that a visit which is too brief may not provide sufficient evidence to allow them to agree or disagree with the quality statements.
Please make a point of thanking the teacher as you leave their room. If they are in full flow, catching their eye and mouthing a thankyou will suffice.
The electronic form will guide you through the recommended notes for your visit, with sections completed before, during and after the visit. It is important to complete your record and submit the form as soon as possible after leaving the classroom.
Please remember that you are making judgments about the quality of Learning, not about the quality of teaching. These judgments are part of faculty based QA or more formal class observations.
Separate from this list of observed lessons, you should also note any learning which you believed to be good practice and worthy of sharing, or a reason for a particularly strong view on a quality statement. Please do not make any notes which may relate to the quality of work of an individual teacher or pupil. These notes will help inform PT’s about the general quality of learning observed from their faculty.
WHEN THINGS DON’T GO AS PLANNED OR EXPECTED
If you observe something that gives you particular concern in any given class you should discretely draw this to the attention of the teacher, or in exceptional cases intervene directly.
If in the event of indiscipline by a pupil,
- if the class teacher is aware, leave them to respond as they see fit.
- If the class teacher is not aware then use your professional judgment to decide if you
- should inform the teacher immediately,
- inform the teacher as you leave or
- discretely challenge the pupil. If you have to challenge any pupil in the class regarding their behaviour, discretely inform the teacher as you leave.
In the event that a teacher appears to be struggling with a situation, you should make a judgement as to which of the following options is best
- Leave the class (if you believe your presence is aggravating the situation). If this occurs you should inform a more senior member of staff at the earliest opportunity to ensure the class teacher is supported as required.
- Ask if your colleague would like assistance? This may include offering to fetch a more senior member of staff.
- Direct intervention. Great care should be taken when deciding to intervene directly in order to not undermine the class teacher. Non-promoted staff would not be expected to intervene with promoted staff.
In the unlikely event that you observe something that you consider to be unprofessional, you should discretely thank the teacher for allowing you to visit and leave. At the earliest possible opportunity, and in the first instance discuss this with a member of the Senior Leadership Team. The matter should remain confidential.
Guidance on the wider context for classroom visits can be found within the Aberdeenshire Information circular (Ref No IN2 483), and associated appendix. Any questions which have not been covered in this guide should be directed to the DHT with responsibility for Learning and Teaching.
Links to the forms associated with walk through can be found by following the following link (blog plus /wt)