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Learning Walks

Discussion in 'Further Education' started by cazzmusic1, Apr 14, 2016.

  1. cazzmusic1

    cazzmusic1 New commenter

    Does the management team in your Further or Adult Education institution carry out learning walks, (short unannounced lesson observations of up to 30 mins) as part of its quality improvement process? My employer is about to pilot these, stating that the effect on our lesson delivery should be no different from that of our formal no-notice observation system.

    If your employer uses learning walks, what has your experience of them been like? Has it been positive? Thank you for any suitably anonymised information that you would be willing to share.

  2. blueskiesmev

    blueskiesmev New commenter

    We do learning walks and I find them OK. They are done by our line-manager and she is nice so we get good feedback.

    I think it depends on the motivation of the person and your relationship with them. Our line-manager is nice and knows there is no point in stressing us all out.
    bob79 and sabrinakat like this.
  3. cazzmusic1

    cazzmusic1 New commenter

    Thank you for replying, Blueskiesmev. Glad to hear that your experience of learning walks is positive.

    With the scheme being piloted in my workplace, we won't know in advance who will be doing the walk or what their focus will be.

  4. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    I'm not in FE, but where I am learning walks are a real pain. They're not just done by management, the whole bleedin' teaching staff has to take part. We are put into groups of 4 and allocated 3 or 4 classes to see in a 45 minute period. So 4 teachers blunder into a class, stand gawping for 10 mins or so then move on to the next one. We've had three learning walk weeks so far this school year and there'll be another one this term.

    It's just so unnecessary, heavy-handed and unhelpful. I hate them with a passion, whether I'm observing or being observed.
    cazzmusic1 likes this.
  5. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    Sounds ridiculous. Maybe ok for student teachers if you are checking whether they need anything, or with supply who don't know a class, but for all teachers? Other people coming in changes the dynamic of a class. Does anyone walk in to check while you are at the doctor's? The lawyer's? Oh yes, someone came in to check on the dentist when I was there yesterday-no wait, they didn't, because professionals don't need to be treated like babies.
    Alldone, cazzmusic1 and SportyK like this.
  6. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    Ours have always been o.k. We are given notice that they will happen during the next week. HODs etc come in for 10-15 mins and ask students what they are doing, if they understand the work and are they enjoying the course. Even the most difficult students have responded well and said how much they are enjoying it blah blah.
    BUT this year we have the most disengaged groups ever, who are being forced to do GCSE resits. They are disruptive, low ability and bad mannered. So far no-one has turned up to ask their opinions. Nightmare scenario.
    QuizzicalCat and cazzmusic1 like this.
  7. Alldone

    Alldone Senior commenter

    My school used to have each teacher observe two other teachers once a term. No write ups and was left to the teachers to organise. I observed the Head teaching his subject. I think most of the teachers found this a useful exercise - observing different teaching styles. However this was an Independent school, so not sure if this would happen in the state system. We never had learning walks!
    cazzmusic1 likes this.
  8. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    Yes, I agree coming in and talking to students (occasionally and with permission from the teacher) is fine. This always happened.
    It's the stupid idea of calling it a learning walk and using it as another thing to undermine teachers'confidence/respect.
    Students used to know their teacher was worthy of respect and was 'in charge' of the class, not scared of some non-teacher who might not even understand the subject could butt in at any moment. Lots of my more vulnerable students would not have relaxed and joined in as well under such circumstances.
    cazzmusic1 and SportyK like this.
  9. SportyK

    SportyK Occasional commenter

    Our's are run pretty much in the same vain. I work in primary but I think it's a similar process. Our HT looks at the learning environment, tidiness of the class, inspects books, speaks to the children to get a feel for their understanding and enjoyment. The only one that put me on edge was when we had the governors, HT and an Ed consultant come round. That was a little tense. @cazzmusic1 As long as your HOD or SLT are supportive and are there to enhance your practice then fine. If it's a way of applying steady pressure then you need to be questioning their motives.
    cazzmusic1 likes this.
  10. cazzmusic1

    cazzmusic1 New commenter

    Thank you all very much for your replies. From what you've said, learning walks seem to be more bearable when notice is given and there is no hidden agenda. Because my employer already uses a no-notice lesson observation system and is now piloting a no-notice learning walks system, I am not optimistic.
  11. QuizzicalCat

    QuizzicalCat New commenter

    We have them - they are done by the Quality team and Curriculum Managers. They're ok. They tend to wander in, watch for ten minutes, then leave. I have also done a few myself so have been on both sides.
  12. QuizzicalCat

    QuizzicalCat New commenter

    Sounds very much like a lot of students doing GCSEs in FE!
  13. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    Oh Quizzicalcat! - They were throwing bottles at each other yesterday. Senior management nowhere to be seen. Would my behavior management have been slated? In the end I threw them out and refused to teach them.
  14. burajda

    burajda Star commenter

    you threw them out and refused to teach them.
    Where did they go? What was the follow up? What was the sanction? What happened in the next lesson with them? If its anything like the FE college I taught in for a short time I expect the answers were. Don't know, nothing, none, no change in behaviour.
    FE Senior management totally not interested in dealing with the underlying issues but only interested in blaming teachers for the poor behaviour, poor achievement and poor attendance of 16-19 year olds that have achieved E,F,G,U at school and expect FE maths and English teachers to get them up 2 grades in 9 months even though they know nothing about the young peoples circumstances. FE SLT is a complete joke, they want outstanding teaching and results but wont spend a penny on interventions and pastoral support and they will just say that teaching is uninspiring because they've seen it on learning walks in classes of Level 1 maths and english classes full of demotivated learners who've been failing english and maths in school since Year 2 and still have to do the subjects till they are 18.
    QuizzicalCat likes this.
  15. burajda

    burajda Star commenter

    Yes, the government require every student that didn't achieve a grade C in Year 11 must continue to do English and maths. Only The Grade Ds do GCSE resits. The ones with grades below D will have to do L1 or Entry Level functional skills.
    If you teach year 10 and 11, please make sure you inform them that if they don't get grade C (or grade 5) then being in a classroom and having to learn English and maths goes on for ever and ever and ever.
    crockedpot likes this.
  16. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    They went home, no sanctions, back next week for more of the same.
    To be fair, I have quite a few well motivated students who want to succeed and are trying hard. They are equally cheesed off with the poorly behaved students. Some of the poorly behaved students become reformed characters and buckle down in their second year of GCSE, when they realize that if they don't achieve they will be back for a third year.
    I am often slated for blaming schools, but some teachers in FE, believe that low ability students are just herded together in schools and left to stew, with no individual attention or teaching. Often dumped on inexperienced teachers. Many of my students have just had a string of supply teachers at school. Others have undiagnosed dyslexia.
    I think some students would be better if they did FS at school in preparation for college.
  17. yodaami2

    yodaami2 Lead commenter

    We used to do FS but no longer, it has no currency in the league tables, and obviously the tables are more important than the kids.
  18. cazzmusic1

    cazzmusic1 New commenter

    Hi everyone,

    There's a great thread on Workplace Dilemmas on learning walks feedback.


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