George Lucas Educational Foundation
George Lucas Educational Foundation

Calibrating Best Practices Across a Whole School

This school has identified core instructional practices and conducts regular walk-throughs for teachers to observe their peers’ lessons—then designs targeted professional development so every classroom can get aligned.

April 26, 2024

At Amana Academy, a K–8 EL Education network school in Alpharetta, Georgia, staff walk-throughs are key to bringing all teachers and classrooms into alignment around their North Stars—schoolwide practices that are fundamental for student success. These include having a learning target for each lesson, asking students to grapple with concepts, doing checks for understanding, posting anchor charts, and using consistent discussion protocols. Throughout the school year, teachers are on different parts of the spectrum of implementation—some may be novices and just encountering these core practices, while others are veterans who can model the practices for other teachers. 

So seven to 10 times each year, a dedicated team of trained staff conducts walk-throughs, where they observe 75 percent of all classrooms over two or three days, for 15 minutes per classroom. The team starts with a rubric and then uses a grading sheet when observing to see how faithfully teachers are implementing the North Star elements. Were the indicators evident, somewhat evident, not evident, or not applicable? At the end of the schoolwide observation period, the team analyzes its data. If less than 80 percent of teachers are implementing a particular element well, then it is an area for growth and professional development. A letter goes out to teachers after the walk-through, sharing the data with them, along with “stars and stairs”—areas where everyone excelled (the stars) and areas where teachers could use some additional support (the stairs).

This whole-school approach ensures that no teacher feels singled out, allows them to understand why a particular skill is being worked on, and helps with buy-in for professional development. Throughout the year, the school sees regular growth with all its North Star indicators, so that by the end of the year, everyone is achieving at least 80 percent for several of the indicators. 

Schools That Work

Amana Academy School

Charter, Suburban
Grades K-8
Alpharetta, GA

Share This Story

  • email icon

Filed Under

  • Assessment
  • Administration & Leadership
  • Professional Learning
  • Teacher Collaboration

Follow Edutopia

  • facebook icon
  • twitter icon
  • instagram icon
  • youtube icon
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use

George Lucas Educational Foundation

Edutopia is a free source of information, inspiration, and practical strategies for learning and teaching in preK-12 education. We are published by the George Lucas Educational Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.
Edutopia®, the EDU Logo™ and Lucas Education Research Logo® are trademarks or registered trademarks of the George Lucas Educational Foundation in the U.S. and other countries.