Through the Lens of a Student

I am currently a part of a book study with a small group of administrators.  We are exploring what our own learning looks like as we conduct our classroom walkthroughs ~ which is a significantly different lens than the traditional one of “how do we conduct classroom walkthroughs”. All too often, we find ourselves caught in a leadership checklist mentality, created by others who are holding us accountable for leading our schools but providing us with an attestation, instead of creating the conditions for us to truly learn something and then reflect upon it.

Formative Classroom Walkthroughs, written by Moss and Brookhart, is a dense read, but well worth the investment of time if you are looking for a way to transform the lens you use as you support, not only your educators but, your own learning during your daily interactions in classrooms. It evolves our thinking well beyond the checklist!

In order to get the most of out of this concept, there needs to be a true understanding of “learning” ~ which involves the process of acquiring new knowledge.   Learning involves those light bulb moments, not reinforcement of what is already known.  Moreover, for this process to be meaningful all three parties need to walk away with something “new” ~ teacher, student and principal.

What I appreciated about this resource was how they suggest principals position themselves to best view the learning and that position is in the seat and through the eyes of the student.  The guiding question, “If I did everything the teacher asked me to do as a student during this lesson, what would I actually learn?” allows us to get to the heart of our work as an administrator ~ which is to support the continual learning of everyone (including ourselves).

I have had the pleasure of completing a number of summative evaluations over the past few weeks where I have intentionally placed myself in the seat of the student ~ completing the tasks alongside of the students, as a co-learner.  Using the lens of a learner has provided me with richer material to include in my post observation discussions. For example, historically I may have commented on the good practice of providing students with a graphic organizer. However, as a result of this new lens, I was able to provide feedback on the learning and discussion that accompanied the completion of the organizer (both mine and the students’).  That feedback is pivotal to the teacher’s learning about their practice.

As a result of reading and more importantly, discussing this resource with colleagues who push my thinking, I’m excited to dive deeper into the next chapters and explore more of the identified learning components and how they will impact my learning as an administrator.

As a teacher, when an administrator pops in for a walkthrough, what is one thing that you would like to learn?

Come write with me…..