What is a District Review?

Next week, our school will be under District Review. We have known this for months, of course, and have been guided by an excited administration on what to expect and how to prepare for something called the “Walk About”. With all of the lead up to the visit, one can definitely detect some anxiety in the air. Making a comparison, I guess it is a bit like having company coming and wanting to be sure that you are ready and that your place looks great.
District Reviews generally take place every five years. In essence, a review is when the administrative members of the school district come to a school to see what is going on. They take notes, ask questions, and try to get a general feel for the school environment. Afterwards, the team makes a report highlighting what the school is doing well with regard to school board mandates and initiatives, and includes suggestions for areas that could use more focus.
The “Walk About”, which is the main part of the Review, seems to generate the most anxiety amongst teachers because superintendents, principals and vice principals from other schools join the school’s administration on a tour of the site, visiting classrooms and chatting with teachers and students. You may be in the middle of a lesson when the team drops by. They will look around your classroom and try to be as discreet as possible as they make their observations. The moment one of the members crouches down to quietly ask one of your students; “What are you learning?” and “Why are you learning that?” can be a little unnerving. Reviewing anchor charts, posters and messages on the classroom walls may make it easier for students to answer questions regarding their learning environment. In addition, you may want to make sure Big Ideas are clearly posted and that the students know to expect someone may ask them questions about their learning goals for the lesson.
While a School District Review is a big responsibility for the school administration and may seem like a distraction from your day-to-day teaching, it can also be viewed as an opportunity for you to take stock of how your classroom presents and how effectively you are communicating on a regular basis with your students regarding their Learning Goals. Take a look around. Do you still have Christmas decorations up in February? Does your class library need some organization? Are your bulletin boards interesting and informative? Would any of your students be able to answer the questions, “What are you learning and why?”? Review what you are already doing. This is not the time for you to change your practice and try to outdo yourself. Rather than being anxious about a District Review it may be more productive to take an objective look at your classroom, do some tidying up and make sure you are ready for visitors.

Updated: March 3, 2015 — 12:19 pm

The Author

Beverly Papove

I have joined the staff at a small school this year and it will be the first time teaching a combined, French Immersion Jk/Sk crew for me. Happy to be bringing in gardening, outdoor learning in a forest setting, wild plant knowledge and inquiry to this diverse group of little souls.

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