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the Gauntlet

the official student-produced news site for Saint Stephen's Episcopal School

the Gauntlet

the official student-produced news site for Saint Stephen's Episcopal School

the Gauntlet

Learning Walks program develops teachers across campus

The new teacher-to-teacher classroom observation program allows faculty to learn from each other.
Betsy Neal
Teachers now have the opportunity to get to know their colleagues teaching styles, allowing them to see differing methods in practice.

Saint Stephen’s faculty are good teachers, but they’re becoming even better through Learning Walks. Learning Walks is a new teacher-to-teacher classroom observation program; throughout the day, groups of teachers walk campus observe colleagues’ classrooms to learn from their different teaching styles.

Saint Stephen’s already has highest quality of teachers, with a faculty that boasts high-level education and experience.  Our teachers are passionate about their subjects, can teach concepts in various ways to suit different learning styles, and they communicate well with their students. Most importantly, they’re warm and intelligent, so why has the school implemented a new initiative for enhancing effective teaching?

The reason is that there is so much to learn for them right here on campus. Learning Walks effectively enhance teachers’ own teaching styles by exposing them to other methods and philosophies.

So how do Learning Walks work? Each Learning Walk, planned in advance, takes place during a class period.  A group of teachers get together to “walk” campus and observe 2-3 teachers at work in unannounced, 10-minute observations. The goal is to see teaching in action, to learn from watching.

After the walk, the teachers get together for a 10-minute conversation about the teaching practices they observed.

Unless a teacher indicates a period is unsuitable for a Learning Walk visit, groups may stop to observe any colleague teaching at any time.

The program started in our Intermediate School, driven by IS Director Mr. Andrew Hasbrouck, who believes that learning from others and seeing other methods can enhance faculty development.

“It’s natural for teachers in schools to be isolated,” Hasbrouck said.  “You can go all year long without seeing other teachers work and other faculty members seeing you teach. You may have no idea of what strategies work in other classrooms. Learning Walks gave me an opportunity to really grow a lot as a teacher.”

According to teachers on campus, the program has been effective thus far.

5th grade English teacher, Mrs. Jennifer Batson, reflected on being observed during a Learning Walk and how the experience helped her in her own teaching.

“It was a little intimidating at first because, as teachers, we are used to having students in our active learning spaces– never our colleagues. However, it was very clear after the first few minutes that my colleagues were truly there to observe and not judge.”

Batson noted that the observed instructors receive post-visit notes from their colleagues, which are very helpful in improving and building upon their already established methods.

“The observation notes given to me afterward were extremely helpful. It is very interesting to view your learning environment, lessons, and student engagement from a completely different perspective.”

For some, the idea of an observer coming to watch their class can be nerve-wracking; however, Learning Walk observations are focused on building morale and improving upon their best practices.

Head of School, Mr. Peter Kraft, has introduced many new aspects to life at SSES, and Learning Walks are one of them.

Mr. Kraft said in his recent newsletter to the faculty that the visits are not about evaluation, but celebration.

“These walks are non-evaluative. Instead, they are intended to spotlight the talents of our teachers to ensure that, in the words of our Promise, our faculty are known and valued.”

Kraft mentioned the benefits of transparency in a school. He said the critical initiative is “promoting a culture of transparency and collaboration among our teaching staff.”

Importantly, Learning Walks also provide opportunities for collaboration regarding best teaching practices.

Mrs. Batson, who recently observed Mrs. Ann Hunsader’s fourth-grade English class, found her participation as an observer on a Learning Walk insightful.

“I observed Ann Hunsader teaching Reading Skills, and though she and I have been colleagues for five years, that was the first opportunity I had to witness her teaching. It was very interesting to see how she engaged her students in a very natural way that gave the classroom a very comfortable and inviting energy.”

Saint Stephen’s students are incredibly fortunate to have teachers who value collaboration and continuous learning. Learning Walks are just one way the teachers are working to strengthen our school community.

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About the Contributor
Jackson Pakbaz, Staff Writer
Jackson Pakbaz is a sophomore in his first year writing for the Gauntlet. His role in the Gauntlet is a staff writer who writes good stories. He has one tortoise, his favorite color blue, and his favorite show is Cobra Kai. His favorite hobby is playing soccer.  


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  • Peter KraftFeb 9, 2024 at 4:43 pm

    Jackson, thank you for spotlighting this important new program. And thanks to all of our teachers who are working hard, every day, to be the best they can be!