- Year 2022
- NSF Noyce Award # 1950335
- First Name Lisa
- Last Name Lamb
- Institution San Diego State University
- Role/Position PI
- Workshop Category Track 3: Master Teaching Fellowships
- Workshop Disciplines Audience Biological Sciences
- Target Audience Co-PIs, Evaluators/Education Researchers, Noyce Master Teachers, Other Faculty/Staff, Project PIs, School District Administrators
- Topics Developing Teacher Leaders
- Session Length 30 minutes minutes
- Additional Presenter(s)
Donna Ross (DLRoss@sdsu.edu)
Participants will learn what Affirming Learning Walks are and how to conduct them. Affirming Learning Walks include many of the features of more typical learning walks in that they are conducted with small groups of teachers, include visits to many classrooms for 10-15 minutes each, and have a central focus. They are different because they are led by teacher leaders or administrators at the school site, include rehearsals of debriefs with the observed teachers, and solely focus on productive practices that were observed, rather than on areas for improvement. Teacher leaders debrief with the teachers who were observed, either on an individual basis or in a small group, rather than debriefing with the entire staff. Affirming Learning Walks provide an asset-based orientation toward teachers and teaching, and have the potential to develop trust and collegiality among teachers and teacher leaders, while continuing to provide opportunities for teachers to grow. This approach provides an opportunity to value many of the teacher’s practices that are productive and encourages teachers to engage in more of the productive practices because they are highlighted and celebrated.
We collected evidence via open-ended survey responses from both Master Teaching Fellows and the teachers we observed. The responses were overwhelmingly positive. For example, this Teacher Leader echoed most of the comments when writing, “As a visitor, the most impactful thing for me was the feeling of positivity, joy, and affirmation that I felt after spending the day observing and giving feedback on the best practices. Everyone in attendance – from observers and participating teachers – taught me something that day. As teachers, we don’t often get enough recognition for the everyday things or encouraging words. Having the best practices in mind helped to give useful and positive affirmation to the teachers being observed. I left with a renewed sense of appreciation for the work we are doing. “One teacher shared, “The debrief was actually the best debrief I have ever experienced! I’ve never been evaluated this way in front of my colleagues, but it was great to hear JUST positive things about myself and other teachers in my department coming from yet another trusted colleague. The entire discussion involved nothing but positive energy and really was the best part of my morning. “The next two quotes highlight how focusing on teachers’ current productive practices can help to encourage teachers to continue to enact the practices and to better appreciate why those practices are important for students’ learning. For example, one teacher shared, “The debrief was helpful and gave me insight into my own instruction that I had not necessarily considered.” Another reflected, “The debrief was great. I felt so flattered by the things that the other teachers noticed and I honestly didn’t think of half of the things that were brought up. It was great to hear some positives and good things.” In both cases, the teachers shared that they had not recognized important features of their practice as beneficial, so sharing those practices explicitly is critical so that teachers continue to enact them.
Teachers grow from sharing their practice and receiving feedback, yet it can be difficult for teachers to welcome others into their classrooms without feeling judged. Observers need to enter teachers’ classrooms projecting respect and value for the challenging work of teaching. In this presentation, we share an approach to visiting classrooms, called Affirming Learning Walks, that differ in comparison to more typical learning walks, instructional rounds, or classroom observations. Affirming learning walks are hosted by teachers or administrators, conducted with other teachers, designed around eight practices known to support student achievement, and focus only on those productive practices that are present rather than on the absence of practices or areas for improvement. This approach provides an opportunity to value many of the teacher’s practices that are effective and encourages teachers to engage in more of the productive practices because they are highlighted and celebrated. Participants will learn how what Affirming Learning Walks are and how to conduct them.