eWalkThrough Fuel

The latest on eWT from Dr. Gillespie

From the CEO...

Welcome! to the third edition of the eWalkThrough Fuel. If student success is the destination, education is the engine, eWalkthrough is the fuel.

The team at Southwest Plains Regional Service Center is committed to continually supporting teachers in the effort to deliver excellent instruction. As professional learning is designed and implemented to support this vision, it is absolutely essential that student success remain the center of all our endeavors.

The powerful data generated by implementing the eWalkThrough provides immediate feedback for decision making. Ultimately, this data provides a consistent and reliable fuel for the education engine--for delivery of excellent instruction and ultimately, for increased student learning.

Because walkthrough observation has such potential as a catalyst to support both excellent instruction and a positive shift in learning (Walk-through as Powerful, n.d.), this process is quickly establishing itself as best practice (Hopkins, 2010; David, 2008). When real-time observation data are collected and analyzed, they become a powerful source of fuel to support self-reflection and collaborative conversation. The final results are clear (Protheroe, 2009). Program initiatives are actualized. Instructional strategies improve. Student achievement increases.

Expect the eWalkThrough Fuel quarterly from Dr. Kelly Gillespie, CEO of Southwest Plains Regional Service Center. Our professional learning team is dedicated to the design of innovative solutions which will deliver results for your staff and your students.

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eWT Fuel - Volume 1 Number 3

eWalkThrough Observer Calibration
Completing observations of real-time, live instruction, on a frequent and consistent basis is a powerful source of data for district and building leaders, and for teachers. In fact, it is likely the most powerful source of data available to support continuous improvement of instruction. To insure integrity of the process and the data, the following strategies for success should be implemented.

Strategy 1: Random, Frequent Observations

Observers must be encouraged to conduct walkthroughs randomly throughout any given month and week AND throughout any given day.

Across the school year, eWalkThrough data needs to be collected during each week of a given month, during each day of the week, during each class period of the day, AND even at various times throughout a class period (beginning, middle, end). This process will produce the truest possible, most authentic, picture of the state of instruction. In other words, for any given teacher, not all observations should, for example, be on the first Friday of the month, during the first period. Instead, try to complete observations at a variety of points throughout the month, week, and day.

Strategy 2: Consistent observations

Observers must be supported to conduct walkthrough observations on a consistent basis, as well. Clear and realistic goals should drive the scheduling and completion of observations. For example, if an observer has 15 teachers for which they are responsible, observing each of them once a week may be ideal. That is a total of 60 observations per month. In order to practice and thereby become more efficient, the observer may begin with 7 or 8 observations per week or 30 per month. This will produce 2 observations per month for each of those 15 teachers.

Outcome: The point is, observations conducted on a regular and consistent basis produce the most authentic picture of the state of instruction. Stopping, starting, not meeting targeted goals, and then spending an entire day conducting observations in order to "catch up" will NOT produce data that provides an integrated, holistic, description of instruction. Realistic goals, implemented on a consistent basis, generate valuable instructional data.

Strategy 3: Observer Calibration

In order to generate the most meaningful and powerful eWalkThrough data possible, a process called observer calibration should be implemented. Observer calibration is simply the regular and intentional practice and discussion of the observation process and of the specific data points within the observation tool.

Outcome: The ultimate goal is to generate clean eWalkThrough data. The observer team must regularly meet to conduct observations and then immediately collaborate to share and discuss the results. This means that as much as humanly possible, observers view data points through the same lens, with the same vision. In other words, the goal is to increase the likelihood that for any given data point (e.g., student engagement, clear learning target, effective questioning), each member of the observer team will mark that data point in the same way.

It's a tough job, but it is important work. The data produced is now meaningful and generalizable across the team and across the building, district, or institution in which it is being collected.

Observervation calibration techniques include:

  • Observers can partner with another observer to conduct 3-4 walkthroughs once a month.
  • An entire district or institution observer team might commit to 3 observations (in similar teams of 3-4 observers) prior to a college/university or district leadership meeting each month.
  • Building or department level observer teams could schedule observations before leadership meetings.
  • Cross-curricular, cross grade level, and between building/program/department calibration of observation is powerful. Administrators may consider a hybrid observation protocol to cross check data points and overall observations, and therefore enrich calibration.
  • Some districts and institutions even contract with an external observer or observer team to acquire a third-party perspective. This strategy adds depth, and an additional rich calibration factor, to the process.
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The following fundamental components should be seen in all calibration activities:

  1. Observation of instruction.
  2. Immediate sharing of results and deep, candid discussion of perspectives.
  3. Repeat observation in another classroom.
  4. Immediate sharing of these results with deep discussion. Repeat steps 1 and 2, as time allows.
  5. If steps 1 and 2 involve smaller subgroups of the observer team, whole team discussion and agreement that should commence soon thereafter to generate conclusions.

Calibration is on-going. The task of observer calibration is never complete. Observer calibration means generation of eWalkThrough data that is cleaner, truer, and more accurately descriptive of instruction. This is the type of eWalkThrough data that becomes the springboard for authentic instructional improvement. And THIS is the process that leads to student success!

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Bloom's Taxonomy and Webb's Depth of Knowledge Posters

Available now from SWPRSC! A resource to support your teachers, insure excellent instruction that engages students at increasingly higher cognitive levels, and assist with observer calibration during classroom observation. Click on green box above!

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