In this blog post, Andy Williams, Deputy Head, talks about the value of Learning Walks.
Learning walks are a routine feature of many schools, although they can cause controversy if their purpose is not made entirely clear. Many classroom teachers may treat learning walks with suspicion, believing they are an opportunity for SLT to keep an eye on teachers and represent a challenge to their classroom autonomy.
While in some schools this may be true, I believe that they can represent the opposite and provide a chance to showcase classroom talents, to share good practice, to support staff and allow potential pupil unrest to be nipped in the bud. I actively encourage all staff to accompany me on my daily walks around the school, stopping in classrooms to observe tutees in action, to comment on wall displays, to learn about different strategies for target setting and to gain inspiration from colleagues. If asked I will drop into certain classes pre-invited to benefit from watching aspects of a particular teaching style, to help with classroom management or to offer constructive feedback on teaching and learning.
From a personal point of view a learning walk each day ensures I get out of my office and reconnect with the reason why I became a teacher in the first place – the pupils. It allows pupils to see me in a different light, to be familiar with my presence around the school and not to fear my arrival at the classroom door. If we are not careful it becomes too easy for SLT to barricade themselves behind the paper work and lose touch with pupils, teaching and non teaching staff. A learning walk offers the opportunity for a brief chat in the corridor or a quiet word en passant, which may resolve a smouldering issue of discontent and eliminate the need for a more formal meeting behind the office door.
Rather than being something to be worried about, learning walks are something to be embraced by the whole school community, to be common practice and to be a first port of call for in-house CPD; making use of the vast amount of experience and expertise on hand in any school, provided by the best resource available – the classroom teachers.