“WALK-THROUGH” MODEL OF
2)Introduction to the concept of walkthrough
3)Purposes of walkthrough
4)Need to conduct walk through
5)Essential elements of walkthrough
6)Criteria of walkthrough
7)Steps to conduct walkthrough
8)Current walkthrough model
9)Benefits of walkthrough
WALK THROUGH SUPERVISION
For explaining the term supervision it is rightly said that in textual discussions it has
been suggested that everything leadership people do in the course of their
professional lives is in some way part of supervision. Different concepts in sense of
definitions are being described which are prescribed as under,According to Knoll
“Supervision is a leadership role in which the supervisor diagnoses teacher
performance needs and then guides, directs assists, suggests, supports, and
consults with the teacher.”
Goldhammer, Anderson, and Krajewski (1980) also suggest that supervision is
supportive of teacher growth
“Supervision is the task assigned to certain employees, whether in a line or staff
relationship to classroom teachers (or counselors), to stimulate staff growth and
development, to influence teacher behaviors in the classroom (or counseling center),
and to foster the selection, development, use, and evaluation of good instructional
approaches and materials” (p. 13)
Merriam-Webster defines supervision as
“The action, process, or occupation of supervising; especially: a critical watching and
directing (as of activities or course of action)”
Supervision is a task in the educational setting that involves the leading and
oversight of the instructional program as well as the responsibility for personnel
evaluation. Throughout the history, influences and impacts on supervision included
government involvement, scientific management, business management and
practices, and educational research and practices.
INTRODUCTION TO THE CONCEPT OF WALKTHROUGH
Classroom walk-through is an instructional supervision technique which is designed
tohelp administrators and teachers to focus collaboratively on instructional
practicesand also to identify educator training and support needs.Walk-through can
last from 2 to 45 minutes. The observing group can range from 2 to 12 people and
may include teachers, administrators, community members,and students. Walk-
through can focus on one teacher, all teachers, or a subset of teachers and
institution. The walkthrough process provides formative assessment data that
answers the question, “how are we doing?” in regards to the implementation of
standards-based teaching and learning. Examining and analyzing this data is a key
practice of continuous school improvement.Walkthrough methods have many names
and various definitions and descriptions. Credited with the beginning of
walkthroughs, Frase and Hetzel (2002) described walkthroughs as
“An active person-to-person process that relies on deeds, involvement, and
participation to create better schools”
Rossi (2007) defined walkthroughs as
“Frequent, focused, brief visits to classrooms that allow principals to observe
firsthand the teaching and learning that are occurring in the classroom”
Davidson & Taylor (2002) focuses on the aspect of principals‟ instructional
leadership, describing it as
“An organized observation that requires the principal to visit all classrooms to look
specifically at instructional practices and student learning”
Kachur, Stout, and Edwards (2010) define a classroom walkthrough by common
“Informal and brief; involving the principal and/or other administrators, other
instructional leaders, and teachers; quick snapshots of classroom activities
(particularly instructional and curricular practices); not intended for formal teacher
evaluation purposes; focused on “look-for” that emphasize improvement in teaching
and learning; an opportunity to give feedback to teachers for reflection on their
practice; and having the improvement of student achievement as its ultimate goal.”
It can be rightly said walkthroughs are a tool for instructional supervision that
includes brief, focused classroom observations designed to gather formative data to
inform effective instructional practices through timely feedback for the purpose of
improving teaching and student learning.
PURPOSE OF WALKTHROUGH
The purpose of the Walkthrough is to,
Give and receive safe, non-threatening, qualitative evidence-based feedback
to stimulate in-school dialogue.
Reinforce attention to focus on teaching and learning priorities within a
Gather and provide qualitative data about instructional practice and student
learning to supplement other data about institution and student performance.
Stimulate collaborative, professional conversations about teaching and
learning through the gathering of evidence related to the instructional
Learn from each other and from colleagues outside of the school through
observing peers, asking questions, sharing experiences, and providing a
variety of perspectives.
Deepen an understanding of teaching and learning through ongoing,
formative feedback related to improvement that supports the institute‟s
NEED TO CONDUCT WALKTHROUGH
The classroom walkthrough model consists of a series of frequent classroom visits
where the observer(s) are present to look for predetermined evidence of specific
practices. The observations last anywhere from two to forty-five minutes, and are
intended to support the faculty in the delivery of instruction and curriculum. Carolyn
Downey is known for her early work in the development of the classroom
walkthrough model, however, there are several models available and some school
districts have created their own. The aim of the classroom walkthrough is to provide
direct and specific feedback to teachers based on the snapshot observed. The
feedback can then be given to an individual, or the observer may provide a report of
patterns noted during the walkthroughs According to the National Staff Development
Council, walkthroughs, sometimes referred to as "learning walks," provide the
Reinforce attention to instructional practices
Gather data about instructional practice and student learning
Stimulate collegial conversation about teaching and learning
Learn from other participants
Deepen understandings and improve practices through continuous feedback.
The walk-through can serve many purposes. First, it gets principals into classrooms.
Unlike formal observations, which often last a full class period but occur only two or
three times a year, the walk-through, when used consistently, ensures that the
principal will see teachers teaching more often, albeit for a shorter length of time.
Depending on the size of the school, the principal might visit every classroom as
often as once a month, or even weekly. These structured visits also give principals a
first-hand view of instructional issues and patterns while providing them with a
meaningful way to demonstrate their interest in and knowledge of the teaching and
The primary purpose the walk-through serves, though, is to provide a structure for
dialogue between principal and teacher about what goes on in the classroom,
"An adult-to-adult model of discourse that involves professional conversation about
practice" (Downey, Steffy, English, Frase, & Poston, 2004, p. ix).
ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF A WALK-THROUGH
The specific components of the walk-through vary with its purpose, but all effective
walk-through strategies share certain common elements. They include the following
The walk-through is designed to increase the number of classrooms that principals
visit, so brevity is a must. While the typical walk-through lasts about 10 minutes, Dr.
Cockerhamsays, "If we are in the classroom longer than three minutes, then it
defeats the purpose of gathering first impressions". Walk-throughs do not replace
longer observations but instead supplement them by providing a high number of
classroom practice "snapshots" that over time can reveal patterns and instructional
issues throughout the school.”
Former Michigan Principal Todd Wiedeman the common focus of the walk-through
"puts teachers and principals on the same page in terms of expectations" but
because the walk-through is an adaptable strategy that can be used for a variety of
purposes, special attention must be paid to clarifying for all participants what is being
observed, and why. To ensure that there is indeed a common understanding;
teachers should be involved in developing the "look fors" and "listen fors" that
principal‟s use during the observation as well as the reflective questions that
structure the feedback session. This participation will go a long way toward
reassuring teachers that the walk-through is a strategy for support, not for
evaluation.The walk-through strategy works well when everyone both the observer
and the observed knows and understands its purpose and focus.
A third common feature of the well-designed walk-through is that it results in a
dialogue between the principal and the teacher who has been observed. The
dialogue begins with the principal giving feedback about what was seen and heard.
According to authors Hall and Hord (2000) this brief, one-on-one, focused feedback
is the most powerful staff development approach available to impact teacher
behavior. Feedback often takes the form of reflective questions, such as "Why did
you group your students for that activity?" or "How did you develop the criteria for
posting student work?" The goal of the dialogue is twofold: to encourage teachers to
reflect on their classroom practice and to inform the principal about how that
practices can be supported. Principals also can talk about school wide trends they
have identified and make suggestions for classrooms to visit or for specific
professional development (Downey et al., 2004). When principals and teachers can
talk openly about what matters in the classroom, the possibilities for continuous
improvement are increased significantly.
VARIATIONS ON THE THEME
Although the walk-through can be an effective strategy to increase instructional
leadership, it also can be employed as a tool to promote teacher leadership and
build professional learning communities. Once teachers are trained in the basic
principles of the walk-through, it can be used in a variety of ways.Authors Blatt,
Linsley, and Smith (2005) say about the essentials that
"The essentials are the same- teachers learning from teachers in a non-evaluative
way, talking about their craft, and developing lessons that will improve student
This strategy deploys a group as large as five or six. The observers meet beforehand
to decide the focus, and then each team member is assigned to observe a specific
aspect of that focus. When the walk-throughare completed, team members meet to
debrief, and written feedback is shared with the teachers who have been observed.
Team members might include the principal, teachers, instructional coaches, or even
staff from a neighboring school.
CRITERIA OF WALKTHROUGH
Walkthrough procedure includes common elements of time parameters for
observations, recommendations for what to observe who should be involved in
defining the process for and the conduction of classroom observations and how
feedback should be communicated. The recommended amount of time spent in each
classroom observation ranges from three minutes according to Downey, Steffy,
English, Frase, &Poston, to between four and five minutes according to Ginsberg &
Murphy, five to seven minutes according to Ziegler, less than ten minutes (“Using the
Classroom Walkthrough,” 2007), and as much as twenty minutes .according to
Jones, Time can be an important factor when administrators and teachers already
have full daily agendas.
A majority of walkthrough observation protocol recommends involvement of
principals and administrators, teacher‟s community members, and students. In
general, the people recommended by the procedure to be involved set the purpose
of the walkthrough, agree to the criteria used, conduct the observations, and serve
as an integral part of the feedback process to individual teachers and staffs.Types of
feedback communication vary between models and tools. Most models strongly
support affirming the positive aspects of classroom observations. According to
Skretta, it should not demand a reply from teachers. Other forms of written
communication cited include providing copies of completed observations to teachers
in their mailboxes and providing information through faculty newsletters.
Recommended avenues for oral communication of walkthrough results include
department meetings, lead teacher meetings, and full staff meetings, depending
upon the purpose of the walkthrough.
Researchers and practitioners offer recommendations for developing walkthrough
criteria, processes, or protocols
Develop and use a common language for quality instruction: have
administrators and faculty develop key descriptors (Skretta& Fisher, 2002)
Establish clear and consistent expectations for the process and for observers
and communicate these to staff members and school community: process
should be transparent and public (Skretta& Fisher, 2002)
Develop consistent format for documenting observations (Bloom, 2007;
Skretta& Fisher, 2002)
Train participants in data gathering and providing feedback (Bloom, 2007)
Communicate anecdotal feedback from walkthroughs with faculty (Skretta&
Continually evaluate the process: should be ongoing and not a one shot
experience (Bloom, 2007)
Include as an integral element of school and district culture (Bloom, 2007)
STEPS TO CONDUCT THE CLASSROOM WALKTHROUGH
1) Planning the Walkthrough
Orientation to Principals, Assistant Principals, Academic Coaches providedby
Staff orientation at schools re-delivered by those trained above.
Principals work with Instructional Leadership Team Improvement, Data Team to
develop the Walkthrough Process at the school. Central Office instructional staff
may be invited to assist with development of the protocol.
An examination of factors such as the
data, and professional learning of the
school are taken intoconsideration. The
Leadership Team determines the
instructional focus of theWalkthrough
and completes the Walkthrough
Observation Form, to identify:the
focus question and a description of
the instruction expectations; thegrade
levels and classrooms to be visited;
artifacts and evidence.
The teachers, school staff are
notified of the pending Walkthrough
andprovided with the Walkthrough
Observation Form that will be used.
The team members are selected to
conduct the walk and they are
notifiedof the process. A date is
established, with a schedule of rooms to be visitedby each team member.
See Phase-In Schedule for timeline specifics.
2) Conducting the Walkthrough
Team members arrive and receive an orientation.
The Walkthrough is conducted and observations are recorded. One-two persons
visit a classroom to record the data being collected, answering the question,
“How are we doing?” The classroom observation should last approximately 10
minutes, with the observation form completed at that time. The classroom should
have chairs identified for observers who need to be seated. Part of the
observation time may be spent circulating throughout the room and examining
student work (on display or at desks) andinterviewing. See Walkthrough
Guidelines for specifics.
ANALYZING DATA AND
RESULTS TO PLAN
FOR NEXT STEPS
NEXT STEP PLAN OF
ACTION TO IMPROVE
3) Analyzing Data and using Walkthrough Results to Plan for Next Steps
Share observations and consolidate data from the individual Walkthrough
This information is used to identify which expectations are/are not in place.
These findings are discussed with the Leadership Team immediately after the
data is compiled.
The Leadership Team identifies the reasons that the expectations are not in
place, and a Next Steps Plan of Action is completed to address the
expectation(s) not in place within 2 weeks.
4) Implementing the Next Steps Plan of Action to Improve Teaching and
The Principal and School Leadership Team assess progress on the Next Steps
Action Plan during the monthly reviews of the School Accountability Plan.
CURRENT WALKTHROUGH MODELS
The walkthrough models presented above are only a sample of the walkthrough
methods that are occurring in schools and school districts. The following models are
perhaps the most recognized in the literature of current walkthrough models. Each
model includes its purpose, criteria, and available research.
a) The Three-Minute Classroom Walkthrough
The Three-Minute Classroom Walkthrough (Downey et al., 2004) focuses on the
comparison between teacher instructional decisions and teacher actions. School-
based administrators conduct classroom observations that result in reflective
questions for each individual teacher observed regarding how they make
instructional decisions and how they will make future instructional decisions. “Its
ultimate purpose is to support teachers in becoming responsible and self-analytical
individuals who are continuously improving their practice. Teachers set growth
targets and search out researched practices and try them.”Three-minute classroom
observations involve a five-step structure. In stepone, administrators look for student
orientation to the work. Within the first two seconds, the observer assesses whether
students are exhibiting attending behavior, listening, participating in class activities,
and on task. In the next two to three minutes of the observation, observers look for
the curricular objective and its alignment with district grade level standards for step
two of the process. The lesson objective does not have to be written for students to
see or communicated orally to students. The observer determines if what the
“teacher thinks is being taught, what is actually being taught”
Step three includes assessment of instructional decisions observed. Observer looks
for generic instructional practices such as types of student feedback provided by the
teacher, use of homework, how teachers handle student errors, level of instruction,
strategies identified as a school district goal, and subject-specific appropriate
strategies. If time permits in the three-minute limit, an observer would “walk the
walls” in step four. Walking the walls includes looking on the walls of the classroom
for artifacts of student work, looking for information that reveals previous learning,
and looking for learning objectives that continue to support instruction. Walking the
walls may include review of student journals, portfolios, or graded papers on the
teacher‟s desk.Step five looks for safety and health issues such as physical hazards
(examples: backpacks in aisles, extension cords, broken desks or chairs) and
environmental concerns (examples: chemical smells and lack of adequate
ventilation). Step five happens naturally when an observation occurs. The
administrator notes any safety or health issues observed to address with appropriate
staff. Administrators take informal notes during the three minutes and formulate
possible reflective questions that would lead to reinforcing what is occurring in the
classroom or identifies an area for refinement. While the goal is to encourage
professional growth through the development of teachers as reflective thinkers, the
method calls for only occasional follow-up with teachers. According to Downey, when
follow-up conversations occur between administrator and teacher, “the teacher will
decide whether the conversation is of value to them”.These classroom visits are
three minutes in length, unannounced, informal, with no checklists, and provide a
snapshot of instructional decisions that teachers are making. The goal of this
process is to change teacher behavior by influencing their thinking with reflective
questions. The method acknowledges that the classroom visits are not long enough
to determine content accuracy and completeness. Downey suggest that the practice
of being in classrooms for as brief a time as three minutes will result in more visits to
more classrooms on a more continual basis and that this will assist administrators in
developing a better picture of instruction. There is no intent to evaluate teachers or
make judgments about instruction during this process. The Three-Minute Classroom
Walkthrough method assumes that administrators either have or will develop the
content knowledge and depth of knowledge of instructional practices to make the
aforementioned determinations in three-minute observations. Downey recommends
that either administrators download content curriculum information to carry
electronically or have print copies laminated to carry for easy access to information.
Administrators will then decide if content taught is accurate or complete, if not, a
more extensive observation period may be necessary. In cases where more directive
methods are needed to address instructional issues, the three-minute walkthrough
does not provide support, it “is not meant for the marginal teacher” .This may imply
that the method is not appropriate for beginning or struggling teachers, only for
known, competent, experienced teachers. Downey also acknowledges that issues
may arise from the process of change, moving from evaluative and directive style
observations to collegial and reflective observations.
In Freedman‟s dissertation study of two school districts implementing the Three-
Minute Classroom Walkthrough, the tool monitored classroom practice and visibly
demonstrated principals‟ leadership. The study involved two elementary schools and
one secondary school in each district. Teacher surveys yielded a return rate of 37
percent for the 187 teachers for the six school study sites. Teachers participating in
the survey could volunteer for an individual interview. Of the seventy-two survey
participants, nine teachers volunteered. The researcher interviewed one teacher per
school. The teacher survey data and interviews were low in number and there was
no indication of how the researcher followed up with non-responders. Through
principal interviews and teacher surveys in six schools, Freedman found that
increased and targeted classroom visits reinforced principals‟ self-efficacy. However,
the walkthrough did not appear to affect the self-efficacy of teachers. Freedman
noted that the walkthrough method was not fully nor coherently practiced, “design
and delivery are not the same”. A key component of the walkthrough method is
reflective conversations. Principals reported that reflective conversations with
teachers were difficult and they felt uncomfortable with the process. This may explain
Freedman‟s finding that “teachers felt like passive recipients of walkthroughs, not
equal partners, teachers did not know what principals were looking for”, during their
classroom visits. In conclusion, Freedman‟s dominant message was, “principals are
powerful when they use their position, authority, personality, and beliefs to construct
an environment that either nurtures or undermines professional working
Wolfrom conducted an exploratory study of two elementary school principals in
Maine that used walkthrough tools. Although it was Wolfrom understands that both
principals were using the Three-Minute Classroom Walkthrough tool, it became
apparent in initial principal interviews that both were using tools of their own design.
Both principals had chosen to design their own tool to fit the needs of their school.
Both principals shared that they conducted formal and informal walkthroughs. Formal
walkthroughs included a checklist with comments that the principal of one school
shared with individual teachers observed. The second principal worked with staff to
design the walkthrough form and shared observation results with the full faculty.
Informal walkthroughs were announced “pop-ins” that did not include a formal
checklist or formal feedback process. Through surveys, observations, and interviews
with principals and teachers, Wolfromfound that walkthroughs had a positive impact
on meeting teachers‟ higher-level needs for attention, recognition, feelings of
success, and professional growth. Teacher interview results indicated that because
of walkthroughs, teachers have grown in instruction and behavior management.
Teachers reported that they benefitted from informal conversations with the principal
because of the informal walkthroughs their principals conducted. Both principals felt
that the walkthrough “feedbackprocesses that they created were difficult to complete
because of their time and energy requirements”
Wolfrom appeared concerned that neither principal was conducting the Three-Minute
Classroom Walkthrough tool as evidenced by a concluding statement: “In order to
realize the benefit of walkthroughs and determine if these strategies will work for our
schools, it is necessary that educators implement the strategies as described”.
Wolfrom recommended that future research include walkthroughs conducted by
teachers to “study, the benefits of peer visitation and feedback conversations as an
approach to formative supervision”.
d) Learning Walk
In contrast to the Downey process, Learning Walk is more formal, has a prescribed
focus, involves teachers as observers, and incorporates discussions with students.
The Institute for Learning (IFL), in the Learning Research and Development Center
of the University of Pittsburgh, developed a theory of standards-based teaching.
Their theory, the Principals of Learning (POL), are identified as: organizing for effort,
clear expectations, recognition of accomplishment, fair and credible evaluations,
academic rigor in a thinking curriculum, accountable talk, socializing intelligence,
learning as apprenticeship, and self-management of learning. IFL developed a tool
for school administrators to accompany the POL called Learning Walk (“The learning
walk,” 2008). Learning Walk is, “an organized walk through a school‟s halls and
classrooms using the Principles of Learning to focus on the instructional core”. Goals
of the classroom instructional walk process are to diagnose student learning and
develop rigorous and coherent professional development.Classroom observations
may gather data on implementation of POL, practices from school district
professional development activities, or used to inform needs for professional
development. School-based administrators, teacher leaders, and/or teachers
conduct the walkthrough observations. Six components comprise the process of
LearningWalks: orientation of staff, orientation of observers or “walkers,” classroom
visits, hall talk, debriefing, and reflection to staff.
The principal communicates to the school staff the purpose for the LearningWalk and
communicates what observers will be looking for to gather data. The principal briefs
the observers on the professional development aspect they will be focusing on and
provides the data collection form. Each classroom visit lasts for five to ten minutes.
Observers look at learning available to students on the walls, review artifacts of
student work (portfolios, journals, posted work samples), talk with students about
their learning, note arrangement of the classroom, note available classroom
resources, and, if possible, talk with teachers about the learning they are observing
and its connection to the larger picture of instruction. Following each observation,
observers meet to discuss the observation and to develop reflective questions that
may help the teacher and the school improve instruction. These conversations are
confidential and may occur outside of classrooms or in another location away from
classrooms, such as a conference room or library.Upon completion of observations,
all observers gather to discuss trends and common reflective questions with the
principal. The principal may invite observers to develop goals for addressing
concerns, plans for additional professional development, and plans for future walks.
The principal then shares the findings with the staff through written or oral
communication. Communication may occur through email to teachers, either
individually or collectively, without an expectation for a response. The principal may
choose to talk with content specific departments, grade level teachers, or the staff as
a whole, depending on the focus of the observations. The intent of the LearningWalk
is not to make judgments about individual teachers or the school, but to focus on
how to deliver instruction effectively for student learning.
e) Walkthrough Observation Tool
The Walkthrough Observation Tool, from the Principals Academy of Western
Pennsylvaniais comprised of a fourteen-step process that sets the structure and
protocol for data collection. Administrators and teachers identify and qualify the look-
fors, observable behaviors, which will be included during classroom observations.
Administrators and teachers define those look-fors, communicating them to teachers
in advance of the classroom visits. Teachers join administrators to conduct
observations and collect evidences of student work, learner objectives, classroom
management, materials and resources, and room arrangement. The principal
provides feedback to staff that validates good instruction and promotes a learning
community through collegial conversation about teaching and learning. The
fourteenth step is the maintenance of the walkthrough culture by continuing to visit
classrooms on a frequent and regular basis.
Two qualitative studies used perceptions of principals and teachers to determine the
impact of classroom walkthroughs on student learning and achievement. Both
researchers studied schools that used the Principals Academy of Western
Pennsylvania Walkthrough Observation Tool. Keruskin (2005) conducted a study
with high school principals who had incorporated the use of the Walkthrough
BENEFITS OF THE WALKTHROUGH
Supports continuous school improvement
Strengthens focus on teaching and learning
Makes principals‟ presence in classrooms more frequent and more purposeful
Aligns teachers and principals in terms of expectations
Uses time effectively
Creates a common ground for discussing academic improvement
Keeps the administrator “in-touch” with the day-to-day happenings in the
Enables principals to know teachers‟ strengths and weaknesses
Encourages the principal to be visible and to provide feedback
Reinforces the principal‟s vested interest in what goes on daily in school
Improves rapport with students and decreases discipline issues
Increases appreciation by/of teachers
Stimulates sharing within faculties about the effective practices and positive
happenings in classrooms
Provides for quality reflection on teaching and learning
Stimulates additional opportunities for professional dialogue
Learn more about their teaching through the principal's support and presence
and to extend talk about teaching and reduce feelings of isolation.
Examine what works well and which areas of instruction or classroom
management could be enhanced by modifying practice.
Be affirmed for their instructional efforts.
Gauge short- and long-term efforts by examining objective data collected over
a sustained period of time.
The walk-through supervision model can be a practical, useful strategy to support
improved teaching and learning in any institution. But careful attention must be paid
to its organization and use to keep the walk-through from becoming just another
educational trend. Regardless of its structure or purpose, the walk-through must be
purposeful and focused. It must be done consistently and with a high degree of
accountability. The effective walk-through model or technique results in increased
dialogue and reflection about teaching practice on the part of both teacher and
principal. Most important, the walk-through supports improved teaching and
increased student achievement.
Classroom walkthrough models are numerous and vary in purpose, identification of
who conducts the visits, procedures, and time requirements. Faculties need clear
and transparent criteria, processes, and procedures. Whether individual teachers,
grade levels, content areas, or the full school is observed, feedback is a powerful
tool that should be provided in a timely manner. The walkthrough process should be
ongoing and focused on school and district-wide goals.
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