Copyright 2016 Instructional Rounds: Lesson Observation & Analysis. All Rights Reserved.
Instructional rounds is a collegial process of improving instruction and learning through job-embedded professional development. The instructional rounds process, expertly implemented, yields higher level content and rigor, improving instruction and increased student learning. Instructional leadership from all levels of the school and district actively participate together in classroom observations to collect evidence of the interactions between the teacher, student, and content (termed the instructional core). The roles and actions of everyone connected to improving instruction and learning become redefined by employing the highest quality of professional development and committing to the actions necessary to yield improving instruction and student learning at scale. Dr. Thomas Fowler-Finn describes the process:
A network of perhaps 20 to 40 educators from across the district whose members commit to improving instruction and student learning, addresses problems of improving instruction and student learning in each school. Every school hosts a rounds visit and self-identifies a problem of student learning, called a “problem of practice” (POP), that serves as the basis for their network visit. The network convenes at the school, enters classrooms in small teams of 3 to 4, uses expert observation techniques (acquired through inservice), and scripts objective notes based upon the school's POP.
The network then reconvenes to analyze the instructional core using their classroom observation notes. This stage, called debriefing, keeps the analysis on specific and factual descriptions, screening out personal judgments. Participants discern school-wide "patterns of practice" that provide a comprehensive picture of the school's instructional core. Patterns do not provide evaluations, and members do not identify individual teachers or classrooms at any time.
These school-wide patterns are then used by the network members to predict what students would know and be able to do as a result of being educated in this school. Since the goal of instructional rounds is to increase student learning at scale, the members conclude their work by taking on the central question of what needs to happen in this school and system-wide to cause improving instruction and learning. This later stage of the work, called “the next level of work,” yields recommendations for improving instruction and learning offered by the network as options for this school to consider.
The options include specific actions and resources the school could employ to result in greater rigor, improving instruction, and increased levels of student learning. Components include time factors, resources, and the support necessary at the school and network/district level. The next level of work must be explicit and concrete, yet offered with the expectation that the school will decide upon its own course of action to spur improving instruction and learning. The network depends on the school to report back to the network on the school's chosen course of action by citing obstacles as well as progress in the school's efforts to create improving instruction and learning. In doing so, both the school staff and network members reflect over time on their own professional practice as a part of the job-embedded professional development of instructional rounds. Each rounds visit provides a baseline of recorded patterns that enables schools and network members to assess productivity of past efforts and rethink future recommendations for improving instruction and learning.
Improving Instruction, Content, and Student Learning