Discuss your previous experience with Instructional Rounds/Learning walks, could be your own experience of what you've heard about this strategy for improving instruction. I do not have any experience participating in Learning Walks. However, I was thrilled to learn about this simple concept, because I have always felt that one of the biggest problems that students, especially young students, deal with, is inconsistency with rules and expectations from class to class. Having teachers learn about how the other educators in their cohort deal with things like behaviour management would greatly help those students who have a hard time with transitions and who get easily confused by different implicit and explicit messages from different teachers. Every teacher has the right to have their own behaviour management strategy, but more consistency from classroom to classroom could help children feel more at ease by knowing clearly what is expected of them and what the process is when they are choosing not to learn and not to let others learn. I believe that when a child feels at ease and safe within their known boundaries, they are more free to be creative and instruction is improved.
2. Discuss how these videos connect to the ideas Wagner puts forth about improving instruction.
Wagner speaks to the need for more interdisciplinary learning. Learning Walks are an important tool to make this happen for students so they can have continuity around the same project or lesson from the math to their ELA to their art class. Also, Wagner speaks to the great need to teach teamwork and collaboration. Their witnessing of Learning Walks and their outcomes is a great way to see this collaboration in action, thus, modeling how things happen in the real world in and in other work environments.
3. Thinking about your own leadership, how would you bring this strategy to a school you lead? Think about being a new leader and how you would roll out this new plan, keeping in mind the differences in learners/teachers, and the structure of this school's professional development strategies already in place. Dream big, however, keep yourself grounded in the reality of today's schools.
As Fisher and Frey say in their article, Using Teacher Learning Walks to Improve Instruction, “Issues of trust must be dealt with directly, and professional development and discussion should precede practice. The investment in time and conversation is well worth the effort so that learning walks are viewed positively from their inception.” In other words, teachers need to be prepared in advance for this new strategy and given a chance to express their concerns and anxieties. Ideally, they can hear from other educators at their school site or through videos with reassuring stories of the many benefits of Learning Walks.
Fisher and Freys' idea of having Ghost Walks first is a good one as it breaks the ice and gets the teacher used to having others in their classroom. Also, having specifically-focused Learning Walks like “Capacity-building learning walks" are also a great idea because there is a set purpose and focus to the observation vs being observed for anything and everything which can make teachers feel uncomfortable and vulnerable and it creates boundaries that will feel more comfortable. Also, letting teachers know in advance and meeting with a facilitator in advance are great strategies I would employ.
However, I don't know if I feel comfortable with teachers taking on a possessive tone with their classrooms and being able to not participate. The classroom belongs first and foremost to the students and our role as leaders is to do the best we can do for them. Teachers are the facilitators, but they cannot close the door to observation and the benefit of a professional development activity like Learning Walks. I would phase it in slowly and use those ideas from Fisher and Frey, but I would not allow teachers to choose to not participate just like they cannot choose to not participate in a professional development day - I would make sure it does not take up any of their time and is structured within their regular work day with a planned activity for the kids to do with a sub to cover their classroom while they observe.