Friday, October 16, 2015

Embracing Instructional Rounds

On October 13, 2015 we began using instructional rounds at JWP as another strategy to improve student learning and staff practice.  Instructional rounds are a collegial model for collective and continuous self growth (Gillard, 2014).  We look forward to building on our initial "round" to ensure organizational improvement.

The elementary principal, high school principal and superintendent began this journey in 2013.  During the initial discussion period a variety of peer reviewed articles were read and discussed.  Through this research we uncovered pieces of the instructional rounds that would work in our existing district framework.  Our reading, research and knowledge assisted us in framing how instructional rounds would work at JWP.

Prior to our first instructional round we communicated with our staff.  We invited one elementary teacher and one high school teacher to join us on the initial round.  On the morning of the instructional round, we met as a group to discuss our purpose and intended outcomes.
Our focus for this particular round was on Charlotte Danielson's Framework for Teaching, specifically, Domain 2b: The Classroom Environment.  This domain included: Importance of content; Expectations for learning and achievement; and Student pride in work (Danielson, 2007).  When we entered the classrooms we concentrated on these pieces and looked for evidence that would support their presence.

After each round we debriefed to discuss our evidence collection.  From there we developed clarifying questions that would ignite teacher reflection.  Example questions were as follows:

1. We noticed you utilized proximity as you taught your lesson.  What benefits do you identify in this practice to engage students?
2.  What adjustments need to be made to further develop student engagement?

Teachers answered these questions in their learning logs.  Engaging in these collaborative discussions promotes teacher reflection on their practice and identifies improvement areas.  Another advantage to this process was that teachers were able to observe instruction outside of their grade levels and content areas.  They were able to see different pedagogy and take away new skills to be implemented in their classrooms.

As we continue to develop and refine this new practice, we believe there will be a positive impact on student learning.  Our teachers did an exceptional job working through this new way of improving practice and moving our organization forward.

Danielson, C. (2007). Enhancing professional practice: A framework for teaching. ASCD: Alexandria, VA.

Gillard, C. (2014, January). Targeting improvements: Instructional rounds. School Administrator, 21-25.