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‘Science of Reading’ Learning Walks: 4 Things for Principals to Look For

By Olina Banerji & Gina Tomko — June 14, 2024 1 min read
Photograph of a Black male teacher in the classroom with clipboard observing elementary students.
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The “science of reading” is a complex body of knowledge, and as more school districts train their educators in evidence-based literacy practices, they need an instructional leader at the heart of the operation—the principal.

Principals need to know the reading curriculum used in their schools and understand why it is structured in a particular way so they can direct its implementation in the classroom. As a new curriculum is rolled out, principals need to be hands-on: to observe, intervene, course-correct, and reinforce good practices.

One tool they can lean into: the “learning walk.”

Principals can conduct these a few times per semester, perhaps accompanied by instructional coaches and district literacy specialists. Through learning walks, principals can determine what additional support and resources—like extra professional learning community sessions or training—their educators need. Principals usually spend about 15 to 20 minutes in each class on their learning walks, to check on how teachers are implementing the lesson plan.

We spoke to principals and district leaders about common “look-for’s” on their walks. We have culled four of them for you and your instructional teams.

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Coverage of leadership, social and emotional learning, afterschool and summer learning, arts education, and equity is supported in part by a grant from The Wallace Foundation, at www.wallacefoundation.org. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.

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