Classroom walkthroughs are a tool for observing teachers in the learning environment. They are usually carried out by teachers or other educational experts. The point of classroom walkthroughs is to analyze teachers’ performance and give them practical feedback on their methods. In this particular classroom walkthrough, attention is paid not only to standard assessment parameters but also to those that go deeper into the learning process and allow for a more in-depth assessment of its quality. The critical points of describing the classroom walkthrough are organizational process, data collected, and how the information would be used to guide professional development and instructional changes.
To begin with, the process of organizing a teacher walkthrough is reasonably practical. During the walkthrough, teachers in small groups visit various classrooms and record their observations on a particular blank – a classroom walkthrough instrument. The teachers analyze the learning activities in the classroom, the educational materials developed by the teacher, and new teaching methods, which they can later apply in their classrooms. “They make a note of the layout of classrooms and content of bulletin boards and other displays in the classroom” (Roberts & Pruitt, 2009). If agreed with the teacher that is being visited, the participants can also look at the lesson plans to see the techniques and structure used by the instructor to plan the curriculum. Once the teachers have finished examining the various classroom attributes, they share their observations. Following instructions from the pre-training meeting, though, they pay no rate but describe what they think represents the implementation of the standards and efficient teaching methods.
During their classroom walkthrough, teachers collect the data to fill in the walkthrough instrument. “After the school walkthrough, the teachers attend grade-level meetings to discuss their observations and responses to the items on the documentation form” (Roberts & Pruitt, 2009). For this particular instrument, data will be collected on the emotional climate in the classroom, the availability of appropriate equipment during lessons, students’ interest in participation in international projects, and many other data. It is organized into four blocks: developing students’ multicultural, communicative, IT, and intellectual competencies. All four blocks have rating scales with descriptors – “well-” “medium-,” and “not developed” (competencies). With the help of these indicators, the observing teachers can accordingly assess another teacher’s performance. Each descriptor of the rating scale has its description listing the required characteristics. For example, when the criteria of a descriptor include an absence of inter-ethnic conflicts and students’ engagement in international programs. In such a case, the descriptor “well-developed” would correspond to these characteristics: there are no intercultural conflicts, students actively participate in international programs, and the descriptor “medium-developed” to these: there are few intercultural conflicts, students sometimes participate in international programs.
The information gathered during these walkthroughs is not intended for administrative evaluation but primarily to stimulate teachers’ professional development and inspire instructional change. Teachers observing their colleagues collect information in general outline and gain invaluable new experiences and find new techniques to apply in their classes. In this way, there is a constant exchange of information and fresh ideas, which prevents methods from becoming stale and fosters professional development. Instructional changes also result from these walkthroughs because there is a regular turnover of procedures and practices, which means that new rules are introduced to modernize the structure.
Roberts S. M., & Pruitt E. Z. (2009). Schools as professional learning communities: Collaborative activities and strategies for professional development. (S. Sullivan, Ed.). Corwin Press.