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Learning Walks as a Collaborative Tool

Learning Walks as a Collaborative Tool

Author: Trisha Fyfe

In this lesson you will learn the purpose and types of learning walks.

In this lesson, you will learn how a learning walk supports collaboration and continuous improvement through the use of the PLC structure.

In this lesson, you will learn how to leverage technology to conduct and analyze data from learning walks.

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Source: Image light, Public Domain,; Image of a survey/checklist, Public Domain,; Image of magnifying glass/paper, Public Domain,; Image of team, Public Domain,

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Welcome. I'm Trish Fyfe. In today's studio lesson we will be looking at learning walks as a collaborative tool. As we learn about this topic, we will work towards several learning objectives. And together we'll answer the following three questions throughout this video lesson.

What is a learning walk? How can we apply the different types of learning walks to your teaching? And what are the benefits to using learning walks? Let's start by exploring learning walks.

What are they? Learning walks are essentially opportunities for check-ins for teachers and administration. They are non-evaluative and brief, and include teams observing classrooms. The goal of a learning walk is to find areas to improve upon. They focus on student outcomes and how to better professional practices to get to these outcomes.

Feedback is given between educators in an individual setting or as a team. Before the learning walk begins, "look fors" are determined. And you can think of these as a checklist of important components that we are looking for.

For example, we might say we're looking for evidence of students being aware of the learning targets and objectives of learning. We might also say we're looking for students to know where they are in the process of mastering these targets. While we're doing our learning walk we will look for evidence of these.

There are three different types of learning walks. The ghost walk is set up to look at classrooms that are empty of students. These are usually about an hour in length and most of the time include important individuals like your principal, assistant principal, teachers, leadership team, coaches, and maybe your professional learning community. After the learning walk, the team gathers to give a summary of the data collected, and the evidence and wanderings are processed with the entire faculty.

Capacity building learning walks are used to collect data. Specifically, on the evidence that there has been implementation of effective practices. These learning walks are also helpful to provide insight into what the next step should be.

These are also about an hour in length and include individuals that are important your professional communities. Such as your principal, assistant principal, teacher leadership team, and coaches. After learning walk, the team gathers to give a summary of the data that has been collected, and the evidence of wanderings are processed with the entire faculty.

The last type of learning walk is the faculty learning walk. This involves the entire faculty but over the course of a year. It might be split up into different times or sections as to accommodate schedules. It typically occurs during planning periods.

These involve the principal, assistant principal, and whoever is available that period. After the learning walk the team gathers to give a summary of the data collected, and the evidence of wanderings are processed with the entire faculty. So how do learning walks support collaboration and professional learning communities?

These learning walks are a great tool for you to work with fellow peers to learn and share together. The goal is to improve continuously. Professional growth and staff development are other goals of these, and the entire faculty is a part with learning walks.

There's also the intention of it being a non-evaluative process. Teams have dialogue that is supportive and aimed at improving teaching and learning for students. Technology can be brought into these learning walks in several different ways.

We can build checklists of "look fors" in Google Forms. These forms can be used by a group as they complete the learning walk. And then using the summary of data and sheets tool that are connected to Google Forms, we can analyze the results and input. We can create a PDSA or SMART goal based on the findings, together in our professional learning community.

Let's talk about what we learned today. We looked at the following three questions. What is a learning walk? How can we apply the different types of learning walks to your teaching? And what are the benefits to using learning walks?

I walked you through learning walks, the three different types. What they were, designated opportunities to connect with peers and administration to observe classrooms in specific ways. The goal of learning walks is to develop and grow professionally in order to consistently and continuously better your ability to meet your student's needs. We also looked a bit more deeply at the three specific kinds of learning walks, ghost, capacity building, and faculty.

Now that you're familiar with these concepts, let's reflect. What are the benefits in using learning walks? Can you think of a learning environment that you have been a part of that would have benefited from a learning walk?

Thanks for joining me today in discussing the lesson, Learning Walks As A Collaborative Tool. I hope you found value in this video lesson and you're able to apply these ideas, and the types of learning walks, to your own teaching. For more information on how to apply what you've learned in this video, please see the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation. The additional resources section includes hyperlinks useful for applications of the course material including a brief description of each resource.

Notes on “Learning Walks as a Collaborative Tool”


(00:00- 00:23) Intro/Objectives

(00:24- 01:23) What are Learning Walks?

(01:24- 03:50) Types of Learning Walks

(03:51- 03:23) Learning Walks and the PLC

(03:24- 03:50) Learning Walks and Technology

(03:51- 04:33) Recap

(04:34- 05:15) Reflection 

Additional Resources

Using Teacher Learning Walks to Improve Instruction

This article explains how learning walks actually improve the instruction of the teachers that conduct the walkthroughs by providing them an opportunity to observe other teachers' practice. See page 2 for a video example of how to conduct a learning walk.

The Learning Walk

The 2014 National Teacher of the Year finalist demonstrates how and why to use a learning walk to improve instruction. This video highlights the importance of having a focus when conducting a learning walk.