The practice of medical rounds, where teams of doctors visit patients and then discuss how to best provide care is a relatively well known practice in the medical field. We can visualize the team of doctors entering the hospital room as a group with white coats and clipboards to talk with the patient and then discuss a course of action. Lives are saved when medical professionals share knowledge and help improve each other’s practice. In education, this model has some great potential and recently, I had the privilege of traveling to Harvard University to take part in their Instructional Rounds institute with 8 other learning leaders from our school district.
Essentially, instructional rounds, or “learning rounds” as we like to call it, is a collaborative process where, like medical rounds, a teacher or school identifies a “problem of practice”, then a team observes the classroom and they work together with the teacher to help support and grow their practice. A key piece to this process is that it is voluntary to take part, it is initiated by the classroom teacher and it is non-evaluative. It is formative and supportive.
The Instructional Rounds institute was a transformational experience for our team in many ways. We have taken the best of Instructional Rounds and are developing “Learning Rounds” for our own context. We have observed that powerful learning takes place when teachers work in teams and when learning is driven by inquiry. Rounds takes this learning to the next level by bringing the work into the classroom to observe what the students are actually doing. The debrief and analysis follows the observation and has strict protocol for keeping the conversation non-judgmental and formative. So far, teacher feedback in our district has been very positive for those who have taken part. “Best learning ever” commented a teacher after recently seeing the process for the very first time.
Our team is excited about Learning Rounds in how it will strengthen our “Pathways to Learning” education plan and particularly how Rounds will connect and support teachers and their practice. We look forward to sharing our work as we develop our skills and knowledge in Learning Rounds and I have included a short video of a grade 3 teacher discussing how rounds have helped her practice and her team. Stay tuned!
Yours in Learning