Last year I shared about the work that I was doing with Hisar School in Istanbul, Turkey. At that time the leadership team was examining critical student behaviors that they felt were important to making desired increases in student achievement. Having selected the behaviors, they designed a learning walk instrument around these six areas:
Learning Objective… students are clear of learning purpose from their efforts
Learning Environment…classroom behaviors appropriate to flow of lesson
Collaboration and Participation…student works with peer to impact learning
Strategies and Skills……. thinking and learning skills
Assessment for Learning…..knows progress on learning goal
Evidence of Learning……students present products that exhibit learning
Under each of these skill areas, their observation tool list items that observers look for to identify the presence of the student behavior. For example:
Assessment of Learning:
- Makes statements that show s/he is aware of her/his knowledge and progress
- Articulates the difficulties/problems s/he had while learning and makes self- assessment
- Shows that s/he associates what s/he has learned with personal experiences and real life experiences.
During the last school year, the staff conducted learning walks with teacher leaders and administrators. Data from 300 walks was collated providing information on each behavior listed within the six areas. The leadership has examined the results generated questions and will explore further with staff and then select areas for focus.
Having selected the student behaviors they wish to increase, teachers in departments and grade level teams will work to examine the teacher behaviors/strategies most likely to generate the desired student behaviors. Leadership will then identify professional development and peer/instructional coaching practices to support teachers.
Data from the next years learning walks will inform the staff of the changes that have occurred.
I believe a strong professional development opportunity has been created and the involvement of everyone in the learning walks supports a continuous improvement culture.
I am starting to develop a plan for learning walks in another school in Istanbul, Üsküdar American Academy . Our process there is to first work backwards from their existing school wide objectives, first identifying the student behaviors that would signal the objective has been met and then the student behaviors that would cause the learning/mastery of the objective.
The next step is to identify the teacher behaviors that would most likely promote the needed student behaviors that produce the learning,
At this point we should be ready to create learning- walks tools and strategies and peer coaching activities to gain feedback for teachers and students. Data from these can identify progress and needed supports.