Using 4 Minute Walk Throughs to enhance student achievement

4 Minute Walk Throughs differ from all other Walk Through frameworks

There are over 20 models of Walk Through in existence and the 4 Minute Walk Through differs from them all. All the others have one thing in common – to gather data typically for teacher evaluation purposes. However, there is very little evidence to suggest effective teacher evaluation and highly accurate data gathering leads to improved teacher performance and enhanced student achievement. Psychological research consistently highlights it is not the quality of data, or the way data is gathered, which shifts peoples’ thinking but other more significant factors. This is where traditional data gathering Walk Throughs fall down – they do not necessarily lead to the shifting of teachers’ thinking about their practice despite the data being accurate. 4 Minute Walk Throughs in contrast are used by teachers to observe other teachers in the act of teaching.

The 4 Minute Walk Through differs because it is not an evaluative model – it’s a transformational learning tool designed to engage teachers as professional learners and to shift their beliefs around their teaching practice. 4 Minute Walk Throughs differ from other models of Walk Through because their intention is to accelerate the development of adults as learners and to accelerate the development of schools and centres as professional learning communities by providing teachers with opportunities using a very powerful framework to Walk Through colleague’s classrooms whilst they are in the act of teaching.  Data is not gathered to evaluate teachers. Data is gathered by teachers undertaking Walk Throughs for self reflection – self evaluation.


Why are 4 Minute Walk Throughs so powerful as a transformational learning tool?

The 4 Minute Walk Through framework has been developed with extensive overseas research and trialing in schools and centres in New Zealand. Our point of difference from other providers in the education sector is from where we draw our research and develop our thinking. Whilst we acknowledge the importance of educational research and incorporate it into what we do we also realise educational research does not alone provide the panacea for the complex issues we face around human and organisational performance. The 4 Minute Walk Through programme is the only Walk Through model which goes beyond the field of education. We have also incorporated leading edge professional learning based on world best practices from the fields of Human Resource ManagementOrganisational DevelopmentLeadershipHuman Dynamics & Organisational Psychology.

Just gathering data is not enough. What really counts is how the data is used to influence teachers’ beliefs and assumptions around their  uk teaching. The most important outcome is influencing teachers’ thinking so that teachers seek continuous improvement in their teaching and they take ownership of it. The objective is not to collect high quality data which traditional Walk Through approaches focus on doing and then on a wing and a prayer hoping that teachers will engage in a process of learning, renewal and change when information is fedback to them. The 4 Minute Walk Through offers more certainty than that because it acknowledges the way adults learn.


What are teachers saying about their experiences of 4 Minute Walk Throughs?


“It is great to be able to bounce ideas, thoughts and opinions off one another. It is through these observations and conversations that you get an insight of what you and your classroom programme looks like to outsiders and more importantly to the students in your class ….. I have found the programme to be most enriching and beneficial ….. I am so pleased Hoon Hay has given me the opportunity to be part of it.”

Angela Barcock-Pringle, Teacher, Hoon Hay School, Christchurch


“Hi Tony, I haven’t forgotten a thing from those 2 days, I’ve been driving myself dotty and anyone who is within earshot of me. I can now see why I was feeling so disempowered 3 or 4 years ago and decided to leave education. I’m back now with a far better outlook on how learning could be. Thank you for challenging me and clarifying the grey areas I had experienced up until now.”

Dy Stokes, Teacher, Waimairi School, Christchurch


“Well Tuesday has certainly come and gone in a flash and Wednesday saw me on another course-but I have been replaying your course in my head- and in fact phoned my Principal on Tuesday evening to thank her for sending me on your course as it seemed to be the answer to a great many problem areas in our school around professional conversations and practice and performance.”

Pat Weston, DP, Mt Richmond School, Auckland


“Hi Tony, I am heading down to (school name withheld) to sing the praises of the process and share our journey with them next week.  I have had such an amazing time with staff here who are now starting to realise the real power there is in walkthroughs and are really beginning to question effectiveness of practice.  I love the potential this has to make a difference for kids.

Rosalie McFarlane, Associate Director of Education, New Zealand Seventh Day Adventist Schools and Centres Association, New Zealand


For detailed information you can email and request our Newsletter dated September 2009 (Issue 25) which tells the stories of four schools and centres who have developed and implemented 4 Minute Walk Throughs.


In what ways have 4 Minute Walk Throughs impacted on Teaching Practice

Here’s what some teachers have had to say:

  • “4 Minute Walk Throughs have impacted more on my teaching of numeracy and literacy and every other curriculum area than any other professional learning I’ve experienced.”
  • “I’ve become far more aware as a teacher of what quality/depth of work I’m wanting to offer.”
  • “I’ve woken up to many things – things I’d never seen in my teaching before – it’s scary but incredibly exciting at the same time!”
  • “They’ve made my teaching time the best it can be.”
  • “They’ve made me bring the Key Competencies to the forefront of my thinking when I am teaching.”
  • “I’m much more versed in balancing between “getting things done” and making lessons more meaningful.”
  • “Many things have become clear to me in my own practice – integrated teaching, introductions, wrap ups, instructional groupings, wall space, room layout.”
  • “I’m not dumbing down on children’s understanding and expectations and this has resulted in powerful learning and children taking more ownership.”


Do 4 Minute Walk Throughs work?

It depends on who you talk to.

One way of looking at this is to look at aeroplanes. Do aeroplanes fly? Actually they don’t. There’s usually a pilot, trained to get the plane up in the air who is keeping it in the air. Not everyone has the capability to do this. The successful pilot has specialised knowledge, developed skills and has the ability to fly. Would you get into an aeroplane with someone who has not taken the time to develop skills, knowledge and ability to fly? Probably not – you’re going to crash!

Unfortunately some people claim 4 Minute Walk Throughs don’t work. In these cases they are right but only because they have not taken the time or recognised the need to develop knowledge, skills and abilities to get Walk Throughs in the air. What they don’t recognise is that it’s not Walk Throughs that don’t work but it’s their own inability to make them work which is in question. They are like untrained pilots crashing planes who blame the plane rather than looking at their own contributions to failure.

If you have heard someone suggest 4 Minute Walk Throughs don’t work ask them from whom they received their in-school training from. They will probably tell you that they haven’t had the training or maybe attended a one day introductory session! Beware. We can put you in touch with people in schools and centres who have been trained and who will tell you the truth.

If you would like more information on this programme we can send you an information package by clicking the link: or you can download the 4MWT Background  information book.