In the typical American classroom, lessons involving recall and understanding overwhelm student learning experiences. Teachers do most of the work in the classroom, unlike what takes place in the highest performing countries of the world where students do most of the work. It is yet to be determined whether the common core will result in improved learning through rigorous instruction and increased cognitive demand.
Adopting new standards or curriculum does little to change teaching and learning in the classroom. It is how change proposals get implemented in classrooms, schools, and school systems that determines results. Teachers may understand the changes in instructional practice required by the common core, but teachers are also expected to be responsive to administrative requirements, state and district assessments, pacing guides, evaluation instruments, and other demands that shape classroom practice. The consequences are often that cognitive demand in the classroom and student grasp of conceptual connections of content deteriorate as what may be the best intentions of improvement efforts are translated into assessments, teacher assignments and finally, result in the work that students actually do, i.e. what students make, do, say, or write. Conceptual understanding of challenging content and student intellectual engagement are critical elements of productive learning. The teaching practice necessary to produce such learning cannot be understood or improved without discerning the complex interactions of all of the factors impacting teaching and learning, directly in the classroom and throughout the school system. This is accomplished through rounds.
Rounds work is based upon developing the efficacy of a network to create a productive professional culture of shared responsibility and practice versus the more familiar private practice and ineffective improvement efforts based upon the “one teacher at a time” approach. Improvement of learning at scale requires the concerted efforts of an entire network comprised of everyone from superintendent to teacher leaders.
Instructional Rounds Plus
Thomas Fowler-Finn, Ed.D.
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Instructional Rounds and the Common Core
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