Investigating Instructional Rounds

I have made several attempts over the past two years to encourage teachers to connect with educators outside of the building–but I missed a step.  Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was assuming that teachers were already connecting with other educators in the building.  Or, I was underestimating the interactions that I saw as connections built on trust and focused on a common goal to improve instruction and learning.  Was I really listening to the conversations between teachers?  Where those participating in the conversations truly engaged or just complying in an effort to outlast the meeting?  In all the talk about student engagement, what about teacher engagement?  What does that look like?  How do you assess quality teacher engagement?  And how do you support those who truly want to engage with other faculty members in deep and focused conversations aimed at improving student learning?

At the beginning of the year, the instructional facilitator and I were brainstorming ways to spend more time in classrooms and replace a culture based on a fear of evaluation and judgment with a culture of support and collective learning.  We set a goal to visit every classroom in the building as a first step.  As we discussed this, we thought it be great to eventually bring other teachers along with us during future classroom visits.  After some investigation, we discovered instructional rounds as a possible model to facilitate this cultural shift.  After some reading and connecting with other educators who had utilized rounds, we decided to implement the rounds in phases, giving us time to explore rounds and customize the practice to the needs of our learning community.

  1. The instructional facilitators visit each classroom and plan the instructional rounds debrief process and prepare for stage 4
  2. The instructional facilitators will read Instructional Rounds in Education and Leading Instructional Rounds in Education for guidance in implementing rounds
  3. The PLC will participate in an article study* and discussion to prepare for phase 4
  4. The PLC will practice the debrief process after watching a short classroom video
  5. The instructional facilitators will bring PLC members along with us to refine the process including the debrief process and norms. We will also be exploring problems of practice that are present throughout the building.
  6. The facilitators and PLC members will take other teachers on rounds with us and facilitate the debrief process. We will focus these rounds on the problems of practice that we define in phase 4

I know this process is subject to multiple changes and course corrections, and many adjustments have already been made in the recent weeks.  I’m anxious to see the process unfold and facilitate opportunities for our staff to improve their instructional skills in a collaborative setting.