As we work to continue to make our private teaching practice more public, a new initiative has begun: Campus Crawls. The term is borrowed from Terry Bramschreiber although we have tweaked the approach to suit our situation and circumstances. Similar to Learning Walks – but very definitely not part of the accountability cycle – these crawls provide more staff with the opportunity to see inside the classrooms of other teachers. The process aims to help continue to build trust and respect amongst colleagues. It is about continuing to open our doors and our minds. It is not about judgement.
The first Campus Crawl took place in October with our new NQTs taking a look in classrooms. It provided the perfect opportunity for our NQTS to be able to pick up the tone and atmosphere of the school. It also highlighted the learning opportunity provided by the Campus Crawls.
The first Crawls allowed 5 small groups, led by two of the T&L team, to visit 3 classrooms per group. Each classroom was visited for 10 minutes. The whole crawl took one hour. This allowed for time at the beginning of the slot to outline the protocol for the crawls (confidentiality within the team, non-judgemental approach) and time at the end to discuss what had been noticed.
The focus of the crawl was motivation and engagement – the whole school T&L focus for the year. The Crawls therefore looked at: the quality of relationships between staff and students; how curiosity was stimulated; how challenge was created; how choice was offered; how learning related to the students; what helped students feel competent; what role questioning played. This is a fairly standard list relating to student motivation and engagement but is also focused on our particular emphasis of emotional and agentic engagement sub-types.
To continue to advance our professional knowledge and to encourage further collaboration and enquiry, an enquiry point was created in light of the positive elements that were seen during the crawl and these were shared with staff:
- With such strong relationships, what disciplined risks could we take in class?
- Could our skill in using techniques to stimulate curiosity be the tool we use to encourage students to ask more questions?
- There is much evidence of skilful questioning from staff. How can we encourage students to move beyond asking for help and clarification, and towards asking more questions of higher order types?
- Staff work hard to make lessons relevant to the lives of students. Do we need to also create a convincing rationale for learning as one of our motivational strategies?
- Do clear mastery based learning objectives/intentions help make learning meaningful?
The next round of Campus Crawls is planned for November. This time we have a Crawl for All week during which all staff have the opportunity to arrange to see a 20 minute slot of colleague’s lesson.
Bramschreiber, T. (2012). ‘Taking Peer Feedback to Heart’, Educational Leadership, 70(3) cited by Robert Coe, Cesare Aloisi, Steve Higgins and Lee Elliot Major, in ‘What makes great teaching? Review of the underpinning research’, October 2014, The Sutton Trust
Literacy Improvement Team, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, ‘Loddon Mallee Region Learning Walks: A Professional Learning Tool’, State Government Victoria