After being trained on Instructional Rounds by University of Washington, Center of Educational Leadership, I was so excited to coordinate Instructional Rounds at my school. The entire district decided to conduct rounds, and I volunteered my K-5 school.
The network team, made up of principals and supervisors, were also trained in instructional rounds at the same time, which created inter-rater reliability in the teaching practices “look fors”. I had read the book Instructional Rounds in Education by Richard Elmore and Liz City as a precursor to my hands-on training, which gave me and my colleagues the background knowledge we needed.
As a faculty, we identified a “Problem of Practice” and ensured all voices were heard. We brainstormed and prioritized what was important to our professional learning and how we could all grow from the instructional rounds process.
One thing we learned for certain, was to suspend judgment and to look at each other’s work in an objective manner. We were observing how kids were learning and what practices were best supporting students’ learning.
Our Problem of Practice focused around a reading workshop through the lens of student engagement. Instead of using a teacher evaluation tool as a rubric, we used the 5D rubric developed by the Center of Educational Leadership Academy at the University of Washington.
The 5D rubric provides dimensions of learning with the vision for each sub-dimension and questions to guide us through the instructional rounds process. As a team, we knew exactly what to look for through the lens of student engagement.
After two consecutive mornings of rounds and visiting 3 classrooms per grade level for about 10 minutes in teams of four, we shared our findings with one another. Our findings were color coded and noted on chart paper and were based on what we saw and heard and nothing more.
Amongst the three teams, we shared our findings and looked for patterns and trends in our findings. We categorized them as Successes and Wonderments.
The successes were opportunities to celebrate the teaching that was evident and the wonderments were the places for us to explore and learn how we can expand our teaching and learning.
Our teachers were on point with stating the learning objective and linking it to teaching strategies, there was clear evidence of gradual release of responsibility – I do. You do. We do. – and students were highly engaged in accountable talk.
The two wonderments for future growth included providing students with formative feedback and posing high quality questions.
The teachers accepted the feedback positively and were eager to collaborate on professional learning opportunities and sharing best strategies and techniques with one another.
A summer book club and job-embedded coaching from within the faculty sprouted from the collaborative work. Instructional Rounds lifted the levels of teaching and learning and introduced professional dialogue in a purposeful and engaging way.