This year Rogers High School has made instructional rounds an emphasis and has dedicated four subs, twice a month to insure that every teacher in our building has the opportunity to learn from the teaching experts we house in our building. Thus far this year there have been over 60 teachers who have been able to participate, each seeing 7 different classrooms for 10-15 minutes. While the format can look very different for each school, we have been taking groups of 4 around for the main purpose of engaging in the conversation of how what is seen in other classrooms can inform instruction. Here is the Instructional Round Protocol we use at Rogers High School for this practice. As a team of instructional coaches we have chosen to use our School Improvement Plan (tied directly to the Marzano Framework for TPEP) as the focus for our rounds, so feel free to adjust and adapt the protocol to fit your individual needs.
We have been lucky to receive financial support from some local non-profit organizations that are heavily invested in the Hillyard community, but it doesn’t necessarily take a large sum of money to make classroom visits happen. A few months back I read a series of blogs about visiting other classrooms during instruction, at my school we call these instructional rounds. As a 12 year teaching veteran, I have compiled an incredible resume of classes, trainings, and other professional development opportunities; but quite honestly nothing has bettered my teaching practice more than seeing some of my wonderful colleagues in action.
Our building regularly partners with area universities to host practicum students wanting to student teach within our building. Part of their process is to constantly engage in conversations with their master-teacher with the goal of bettering their instructional practices. Often those conversations take place after a lesson is observed and is centered on the idea of instructional practices and teacher moves, yet once those same teachers obtain their license and are given their own classroom those conversations seem to stop. Instructional rounds are a great way to re-engage in those same types of conversations that were so valuable during those early days of your teaching career.
Instructional rounds can take many forms and don’t necessarily have to be a formal process. I have added many instructional strategies to my teaching tool box just from asking other teachers if I can come watch them during my prep period or inviting others to come into my class to give me feedback on a lesson that I am teaching. Informal observations and the conversations that grow from those observations are extremely beneficial to not only the observer, but also the teacher being observed. If you do choose to engage in an informal observation, just be sure to clearly define what the purpose of the observations are so as to have a productive post-observation conference.
If you have not had the opportunity to observe a colleague teach recently or have not invited a colleague into your room I highly encourage you to do so. There is so much that we can learn from each other. I was able to lead an instructional round just last month and one of the big ah-ha’s that was shared by a participating teacher was the benefits of using positive praise in the classroom. After the rounds I asked if I could go into that teacher’s classroom and observe him in action. Not only had he started using positive praise in his classroom, but he informed me that his discipline issues in class have decreased dramatically due to the “positive vibe” in his classroom.
I challenge each of you reading this to engage in a peer observation at some point before the end of the school year either as an observer or as a model teacher. You won’t believe all the great things that are happening in your neighbor’s classroom.
Aside from teaching, I also coach baseball (JV for the high school and AA for American Legion) and enjoy spending time with my wife and son.
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