Educational leaders sometimes establish instructional goals without a clear process to attain them. Instructional Rounds in Education: A Network Approach to Improving Teaching and Learning (City et al., 2009) explains a process that leaders can use to impact the instructional core and positively affect student learning. During this learning process teachers and leaders can develop common language and a shared understanding of how quality instruction looks. Through this interaction of learning, teachers and leaders can also create a system of support for building, maintaining, or improving quality instruction.
The Rounds process presents a way to objectively look at the instructional core. Leader-teacher relationships sometimes result in subjectivity and affect leaders’ perceptions of teachers’ instructional practices. However, engaging in the Rounds process will help teachers and leaders more clearly see the difference between intent of instruction and the reality of it. Quality conversations during Rounds can become the gateway for a more objective and factual-based view of instruction. Gap between the realized intent and reality leaves room for leaders and teachers to discuss plans for improvement through targeted professional development.
Use of this book during my administrative experience was very valuable. I worked with a principal whose goal was to improve teacher collaboration. Essentially, the principal wanted teachers to begin discussing instructional practices after visiting their colleagues’ classrooms. The principal wanted the process for doing so to be structured and researched-based.
Using the structure of this book, we (the administrative team and district personnel) engaged in an administrative book study through which we developed a school-wide Instructional Rounds Action Research plan. The easy-to-follow organization of this book allowed us to learn about the Rounds process, consider how it could be tailored for our individual school’s needs, and thoughtfully develop a plan of approach for implementing the Rounds process.
Though carefully organized and detailed, the book allows autonomy for participants to form their own plan of the Rounds process. Some leaders may find this autonomy ambiguous and a bit intimidating. However, others welcome it. Autonomy allows freedom for instructional leaders to consider the unique needs of their school when applying the theory of Rounds to a meaningful process.
For leaders who seek more details and direction with the Rounds process, the following works have been released: Instructional Rounds in Action (Roberts, 2012) and Leading Instructional Rounds in Education: A Facilitator’s Guide (Fowler-Finn, 2013). These seem to supplement the original work, Instructional Rounds: A Network Approach to Teaching and Learning (City, et al., 2009) and may be helpful for educators who need more detail and concrete examples of the Rounds process.
According to City et al. (2009), “We learn to do the work by doing the work, reflecting on the work, and critiquing the work” (pg. 157).
Utilizing this book to implement the Rounds process was an enriching experience with fellow administrators, teachers, and district personnel. It prompted meaningful, collaborative discussions which sparked more projects for school improvement. Use of this book for professional learning help to build a network of learners to positively influence change. For administrators and district personnel, engaging in the process was less about evaluating teaching practices. It was more about what we as school leaders needed to provide in order to enhance teachers’ instructional delivery and students’ learning experiences. More than anything, the Rounds process put administrators in learners’ seats. As an instructional leader, this gave me a refreshed leadership perspective–that is, leading is learning.
City, E. A., Elmore, R. F., Fiarman, S. E., & Teitel, L. (2009). Instructional rounds in education: A network approach to improving teaching and learning. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. ISBN-13: 978-1934742167.