Walking to work

I’ve been using classroom Walk-Throughs for the past 7 months in order to get to get into the classrooms in my school, get to know what the teachers are doing, familiarize myself with the curricula in the various grades and just acquaint myself with how this form of supervision might work for me.

Now, I started with the book The Three-Minute Classroom Walk-Through by Corlyn J. Downey. Like most administrators, I read through the book, worked through the different stages of the Walk-Through and began to figure out how I might use this tool in my own class. Now, I began by using recipe type cards but that was a bit too cumbersome for me since I don’t write very well, I couldn’t always remember the various things for which I was looking and I sometimes forgot them in different places which isn’t a very good thing.

I also was having problems remembering the things I was suppose to be observing. The Walk-Through, which was suppose to be 3 minutes was taking upward of 15 or 20 as I worked to figure out what I was observing, where it fit, how to record it on my cards. I figured that this would get better as I did more but it still was taking me too long, I thought, to do the individual Walk-Through. About May, I moved from the recipe card to a smaller card and began to work on specific parts of the Walk-Through, familiarizing myself with each step. In my school, I didn’t bother with the facility as it wasn’t a concern. I focused on the first 4. Another thing that was taking me time was finding where the objectives were for the classes I was visiting and matching them with what I was seeing. Sometimes it took me longer to do that for a class than it did for me to do the trip that day. I became more familiar with our curricula online, I definitely got better at this.

This past summer I purchased a PDA and I began this using it this fall. I use the note taking feature to take notes while in the room. For me, this was much better as it had the date already on the note and I could upload it to my computer later in the day and then add information if I needed. With this method, I’m better able to succinctly describe what I have seen. I feel more comfortable with that instead a dozen small cards.

I’ve also found some great resources that I’ve posted on my adminplc wiki. I have adapted and used some of the forms, putting them on my PDA as documents and then using the points for a reference while I do the Walk-Throughs. This is helping even more and as I become better at summarizing and giving information, I think I will become better at noting different things during my trips through the school. I really like the Walk-Throughs, especially since it does give me a chance to quietly talk to a student or two and the students are becoming better at ignoring me while I am there. I think I might be at the stage where I can now begin to pull together my observations and leave comments or questions for the teachers. It may take me some more time to fine-tune what I record and how I do that but it no longer feels awkward to do this. I know that Alan Knobloch has a great article over at Leadertalk.org.

Our school administrators will be doing work at a full day inservice this month which I am looking forward to attending. Each time I think of a group of admin people getting together to share about Walk-Throughs, I think of this video…. really says it all when it comes to Walk-Throughs!


  1. Reply

    I have two teacher evaluation dilemmas. One is improving my system for walk-throughs like you have written about in this post. The other is to find a better system for the formal, 40 minute lesson observation. I am tired of the “script-tape” process where I struggle to write down every word spoken in the room. I understand that this provides the teacher with valuable insight into the lesson, but I end up spending the entire lesson with my head down, writing away. Do you have any thoughts, ideas, resources, or links to sites where I can find better ways to observe a teacher that gives her good data to study and gives me a chance to observe with my head up, not struggling to write every word?
    This might make a good LeaderTalk post in the future! I wonder who else out there has something effective for observing lessons.

  2. Reply


    I think that is a problem that so many of us have when we are doing format observations. It would be definitely be something for a bigger discussion. I know that our division is developing an observation system that uses both notes and checks. It is something that I will be using as I do my supervisions. I don’t have anything at my fingertips but I will take a look at some of my webresources and let you know.

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