Yesterday I was speaking to a colleague about the focus of walkthroughs in February. My colleague was told that I had changed some of my thoughts over the last 12 months and was seeking some clarification. I felt by the end of our conversation that I was affirming what we both understood was important for teachers to do at the start of any school year – establish relationships with students. It’s difficult to effectively teach anyone you don’t know.
At the start of each school year the leadership team work through our shared expectations with all staff members about teacher relationships with students, the unpacking of school values, the embedding of social competencies in the curriculum and the development of a group set of base expectations or rules or behaviours and consequences with students.
We model on the first pupil free day and staff meeting unpacking a school value using a thinking tool [Y Chart], role play making a social competency explicit at the start of a lesson and play a game designed to get to know your students. We then make it explicit with all teachers that we expect this to occur in all groups during the month of February and periodically throughout the year.
I then use this work on building relationships as the focus for the first few walkthroughs at the start of the school year. I inform teachers before the walk of the focus. I walk the walls of rooms I visit and take photos of the various charts that depict the work of teachers and students. I then share these photos at a staff meeting and work on some leading questions that promote further teacher dialogue about the work of building relationships.
Tip 1: Don’t forget the school office staff in this as they have a role in reinforcing the school values – eg respect or courtesy – signs in the school office reminding all members of the community to use appropraite langauage [please / thank you etc…]
Tip 2: If your looking for different thinking tools the Mordiallic Cluster of public schools in Victoria have set up a terrific site as a reference for teachers on visual thinking tools. The site’s listed as a resource