Formative Classroom Walkthroughs

One of the things that I am most looking forward to in the coming year is once again having a significant time to be in classrooms. This year, I will be partnering with our divisional leadership to engage in formative classroom walkthroughs as a part of our larger work around faculty growth and development.

We talk a great deal about formative and summative assessments with our student learning, but rarely have I heard this language used via the lens of faculty or adult learning in a school house. And yet, if we wish to have world-class faculty, we should be focusing on growing their teaching and leadership skills much the way we would focus on helping our students achieve their very best day in and day out in the classroom. Study after study demonstrates that formative feedback benefits students. It just makes sense that formative feedback would similarly benefit faculty.

Over the summer I had the opportunity to read more about the effective use of formative classroom walkthroughs, and essentially, the practice involves three lenses:

Micro view: Am I giving direct, evidence based feedback?

Snapshot view: What did the teacher learn from the feedback?

Long point of view: What changes happened as a result of applying the feedback?

We will be loosely basing our practice on the book Formative Classroom Walkthroughs by Moss and Brookhart, with a focus on applying the three views when observing faculty teaching or leading, and then using those views to shape solid formative feedback loops. We are going to strive to maintain a balance of feasibility (for both the division heads and the faculty members) as well as really focus on the growth and development of our faculty members. The three lenses described above will serve as the basis for feedback. Divisions will also continue their work on refining the faculty’s use of learning targets in the classroom. The book has a great deal more to the process, however, jumping in full-throttle right out of the gate felt a bit onerous to all involved – so we will think big, start small, and go slow with this process.

What do you believe are the integral components of effective growth and development of teachers? How would you approach that work?