If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I only do book reviews when I read something that really moves me. Well, I’ve just found a book that moved me. Really moved me.
The book is by Margo Guillot and Gaylynn Parker, and it’s called A Value Added Decision: Learning About Learning Together.
Here’s why I love this book: It provides a simple, flexible protocol for building a culture in your school that honors the tenets of teacher-directed learning. In short, it gives you very specific tools for doing learning walks in your school or district.
OK, OK. I know what you’re thinking: learning walks are drive-by, evaluative, checklist-driven fear tactics. However, this book completely reframes what should happen when teachers visit each other’s classrooms. Consider the following elements of the framework prescribed by Margo and Gaylynn.
- The point of the walk is NOT to evaluate the teacher you’re visiting. It is a professional learning experience for the people on the walk.
- When you enter the classroom, you do NOT focus on what the teacher is doing. You focus on what the students do and say.
- You do NOT take any writing utensils for paper into the room. Instead, you have short debriefing conversations with your team after every visit.
- The walks should promote collegial connections when teachers follow up with each other.
If you want to build a positive learning culture in your building, this is the way to do it. It honors best practice that is already happening, and it models a cycle of continuous improvement.
The Edcamp Connection
Frequently, people ask me how they can adapt the Edcamp model for their school or district. This book is a great way to start building the type of culture and collegial expectations that is primed to Edcamps. Think of Margo’s protocol as an Edcamp prep for your school. The authors’ perspectives align very closely with Edcamp paradigm.
Get this book!