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Why Most Classroom Walkthroughs are Ineffective
Hi, my name is Bob Marzano. Let me give you a little background about myself: I was a classroom teacher many years ago in New York and Seattle, but I got excited about and hooked on the research part of our profession very early in life. For 30-plus years I’ve been trying to translate research and theory into practice. I’ve worked with great colleagues and we’ve had the opportunity to work in every state, numerous times, and in different countries. Myself and my colleagues have written a number of books on teaching, 30-plus books, and you could even increase that number if you look at handbooks and curriculum materials.
We believe that as a group we know as much about good teaching as anybody in the country. The organization we have, the Marzano Research Lab, we pride ourselves in working with teachers and working with schools, trying to take research and theory and translate it into something they can do in their classrooms right away. I believe we’ve taken one of the most comprehensive views of teaching that exists right now. In each area we look at we can go in depth, but also we have a broad picture, too. So if you’re a school or a district or an individual teacher, if you want that broad perspective from people who’ve read other research and done our own research, you might take a look at what we have done and what we’re doing right now, particularly with this very exciting project.
As I’ve traveled across the country—and I still travel quite a bit and work all 50 states and every year I’m out in numerous states across the country—I’ve come to the conclusion that although the walkthrough movement is a good movement and a powerful movement, most walkthroughs that I’ve seen I think are ineffective. And actually, I think some work against developing effective teachers. The primary reason for that is that the walkthroughs I’ve seen focus on typically a very narrow range of instructional strategies, as though that were the totality of what effective teaching is. Commonly they’ll use strategies from one of the books I’ve written on Classroom Instruction that Works and they’ll just focus on that. Although it was a good book and it had good strategies, to say that is good teaching is very inaccurate. And actually, we never said that in the book, never at all. As a matter of fact, if people read the first chapter, we caution against that. Now, unfortunately, we wrote that way before the walkthrough movement even started—even before it was a term that people recognized. Unfortunately, there’s some walkthroughs out there that do focus on a narrow range of instructional strategies. Some of them associate my name with it. Just to be clear about that, I’ve not worked in the development of any other observational or walkthrough protocol other than this one, the iObservation protocol. It is something that has actually bothered me quite a bit, when people say we’re using your walkthrough protocol, and I always see what it is. I always have to say that’s not mine, but if that works for you, that’s great, but I actually don’t believe that’s good practice. The iObservation system is the only one I’ve worked on and I’ve picked iObservation on purpose because of the strengths of the platform and the strengths of the people running the company and the philosophy. Again, walkthroughs are a good thing, but I think they can be misused and quite frankly most of the use of walkthroughs that I’ve observed in schools aren’t having as positive of effect as they could, and actually in some cases I think they are having a negative effect in relation to enhancing teachers’ skill in the classroom.