When I first introduced Instructional Rounds at my school, teachers had never heard of them. I needed to break down what they are and what they aren’t. It’s not an opportunity for one teacher to observe and evaluate another. Instead, the teachers participating are trying to see what strengths another teacher has that they can grab and implement in their own classroom.
Steps to Instructional Rounds:
1. Set the focus (5 mins) The coach will meet with the observers outside the class and explain the topic or focus for the observation.
2.Observe in the classroom (15 mins)
3.Independent Observation Reflection (5 mins)
• Review and clarify observational notes
4.Group Observation Reflection (10 mins)
Share out what you observed the teacher do
Discuss how the teacher’s actions affected the students
Identify at least 1 thing you can do in your classroom to strengthen this area.
5. Transfer to Practice (10 minutes later in the day)
• In what ways do you (the individual member of the team) intend to refine your
own practice as a result of this experience?
How to Get Started
After informally observing the teachers in your building and getting to know their strengths and weaknesses, choose three topics you feel some teachers could grow in. Choose one teacher who does each of these topics very well and ask them if it would be ok if you brought in 2-3 teachers to observe them using this strength for a few minutes. Be sure to let the teachers know you already think they do this focus area well and that all they need to do is demonstrate it the way they naturally do with their students.
Next send out a sign up sheet identifying the three topics, the teacher who will be demonstrating each topic and the date and time of the observation. I only leave space for 3 teachers to sign up for each topic because I don’t want to overwhelm the teacher being observed or her students by bringing in too many people. If a topic is really popular you can always do that instructional round more than once.
Here is a picture of the sign up sheet I use. Sometimes I personally invite teachers if I think this is an area they need to focus on or if its part of their goals they have identified with me earlier in the year.
Preparation for the Instructional Round
I have a basic observation form that teachers fill out when they are observing during instructional rounds. However, I like to guide teachers a little more by adding specific questions to the form depending on what the focus area is.
After we spend a few minutes observing we meet outside in the hall or an empty room to debrief and discuss what was seen and how teachers can apply it to their own classroom. Teachers usually do a good job of keeping the discussion positive but if they do start bringing up criticism of the teacher being observed, I gently redirect the conversation.
Overall, teachers praised the instructional rounds we did this year. They said they learned a lot by watching other great teachers in our building and they look forward to having more opportunities in the future.
Are you ready to start instructional rounds at your school?
Instructional Rounds Protocol Sheet
General Observation Form
Observation Form Specifically for: Classroom Management, Technology, Routines & Transitions and
Positive Classroom Culture.
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