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Learning walk helps leaders plan for progress

“This summer, we want to redefine our district’s commitment to equity.”

“Before school starts, I want every teacher to set priorities to guide their work in the coming year.”

“Next year, I want my school to have a strong learning culture—one we foster from the very first day.”

Many leaders have thoughts like these as they close the book on one year and look toward the next. Educators who joined ANet Minnesota’s Learning Walk this spring found that observing high-performing schools helped them translate abstract ideas into concrete plans.

“We have some big things moving forward following the learning walk,” says Megan Miller-Besaw, a leader from Prodeo. “We’re designing a survey to have teachers rank their priorities. This will help us find a starting point for coaching and development. It’s something we’ve talked about for a while, but the Learning Walk sparked action.”

Joanna Schneider, from NECP, agrees that the learning walk came at just the right time. “We’re currently in the thick of planning for next year and we’re adjusting our approach to professional development based on the observing-coaching model we saw,” she says. “We’d already begun thinking about ways to streamline our PD calendar, but the models we saw brought us a greater sense of clarity.”

For other leaders, the learning walk inspired a focus on equity. “The learning walk has me thinking about how we message our network’s commitment to equity, starting this summer during new teacher PD,” reflects Sara Boedecker-Johnston, from Hiawatha. “It’s something concrete to me now—not a buzzword. That’s really powerful.”

Energized by their experience, these Minnesota leadersand the two dozen others who attended the learning walkplan to devote part of their summer to intentional, effective planning. “Successful schools spend a serious amount of time building culture at the beginning of the year,” explains Jill Livdahl of Hennepin Middle School. “As a new school we need to plan for this next year. Because of the learning walk, we have the tools we need to get started.”

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