Using the Classroom Walk-Through as an Instructional Leadership Strategy (page 3)

— The Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement
Updated on Jul 9, 2010

Variations on the Theme


Although the walk-through can be an effective strategy to increase principal instructional leadership, it also can be employed as a tool to promote teacher leadership and build professional learning communities. Once teachers are trained in the basic principles of the walk-through, it can be used in a variety of ways. In one school, all third-grade teachers might agree to visit each other’s classrooms, focusing on consistency and coherence. In another, the walk-through might take place after school and engage the entire staff in examining how classroom set-up and structures support student learning. “No matter how schools tailor the process,” say authors Blatt, Linsley, and Smith (2005), “the essentials are the same—teachers learning from teachers in a non-evaluative way, talking about their craft, and developing lessons that will improve student achievement.” (p. 2).

Others take a team approach to walk-throughs. This strategy deploys a group as large as five or six. The observers meet beforehand to decide the focus, and then each team member is assigned to observe a specific aspect of that focus. When the walk-throughs are completed, team members meet to debrief, and written feedback is shared with the teachers who have been observed. Team members might include the principal, teachers, instructional coaches, or even staff from a neighboring school (Richardson, 2001).


The walk-through can be a practical, useful strategy to support improved teaching and learning in any school. But careful attention must be paid to its organization and use to keep the walk-through from becoming just another educational fad. Regardless of its structure or purpose, the walk-through must be purposeful and focused. It must be done consistently and with a high degree of accountability. The effective walk-through results in increased dialogue and reflection about teaching practice on the part of both teacher and principal. And, most important, the walk-through supports improved teaching and increased student achievement.


Blatt, B., Linsley, B., & Smith, L. (2005). Classroom walk-throughs their way. UCLA SMP EdNews. Retrieved February 9, 2007, from

Downey, C. J., Steffy, B. E., English, F. W. Frase, L. E., & Poston, W. K. (2004). The three-minute classroom walk-through: Changing school supervisory practice one teacher at a time. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Hall, G. E., & Hord, S. M. (2000). Implementing change: Patterns, principles, and potholes. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Hopkins, G. (2005). Walk-throughs are on the move. Education World. Retrieved February 9, 2007, from

Richardson, J. (2001). Seeing through new eyes: Walk throughs offer news ways to view schools. Tools for Schools. Retrieved February 9, 2007, from

Togneri, W., & Anderson, S. E. (2003). Beyond islands of excellence: What districts can do to improve instruction and achievement in all schools. Washington, DC: Learning First Alliance. Retrieved February 9, 2007, from

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