It is an education technique typically used to help teachers reflect on how and what students understand. Now ‘learning walks’ are giving parents at St Christopher’s Catholic Primary School Holsworthy the chance to observe their children’s lessons in action.
The school held its first parent learning walks in early 2018, to give parents on its advisory committee an insight into classroom life. The popularity of the initial walks led to the school extending the opportunity to others. Parents whose children are yet to start Kindergarten have also attended them to learn more about their future school.
“It has gained traction and we’re now starting to get parents who deliberately take time off work so they can come along,” said Principal Tony Boyd.
“The main benefit is that the parents have an understanding of, and an engagement with, their child’s learning. The only way to really understand how the students learn is to experience it. Without exception, the parents have all been blown away by how the kids are learning.”
It’s not staged. What you see is exactly what happens daily.
Nicole Englen, Doreen Dean, and Antonella Bertram attended the school’s first parent learning walks, observing literacy, mathematics and religious education lessons across the grades.
“They opened a door for parents to see how their children were interacting in the classroom with the teacher and other peers,” Nicole said. “For me personally it was like a comfort blanket. To see what was going on in the classrooms and the communication with teachers was very informative. It’s not staged. What you see is exactly what happens daily.”
Doreen said the walks involved walking around the classroom in small groups and asking students questions about what they were learning.
“They’d explain their work and then we’d move into another classroom and go through the same process there,” she said. “You could see how from Year 2, to Year 4, to Year 6, when they are all learning literacy that the concept and processes are the same, just at a different level.
“I found the kids were very engaging. They weren’t shy. They were happy to share their work and explain what they were doing.”
Antonella Bertram said there were clear differences between learning now to when she was at school. “When we were kids we only learnt one traditional way of doing algorithms or various things in maths,” she said. “I found it difficult at the beginning to look at the new techniques and ways the children were learning but I know they are very confident and capable, even from a very young age. You go into Kindergarten and they know what their outcomes are. When you’d ask ‘What are you learning? Why are you learning?’ they were able to say. That was true of every grade.”