Please enable JavaScript to access this page. Medicine And Fitness: Why Instructional Rounds Benefit The Entire Educational System

Why Instructional Rounds Benefit The Entire Educational System

By Martha Turner

Teachers have to do their jobs in very difficult circumstances. They have to teach large classes, deal with disciplinary issues and be part of numerous extra curricular activities. They are surrounded by learners all day but they seldom get the chance to interact with their peers. The opportunities for personal and professional growth are limited. With instructional rounds, however, they get the chance to learn from experienced colleagues and to share lessons that they themselves have learned.

It is really a very simple concept. A small group of teachers attend the class of another teacher. Their intention is to observe that teacher in action in the classroom. The group is normally led by a senior teacher. The observers do not participate in the class activities and may not interrupt the teacher being observed. No teacher is ever pressurised to agree to being observed.

Observation sessions are informal but there are clear goals. Prior to the session, the observers meet and decide upon those goals. In most cases, the teacher being observed has a reputation for excellence in one or more fields and the goal normally centres on those strengths. For example, the goal may be to learn just how the observed teacher manages to maintain discipline in the classroom.

Observation sessions in this context do not intend to evaluate the teacher being observed. In fact, the opposite is true. The purpose of the observers is to learn from the expertise of the teacher being observed. The observers do not take part in the classroom activities, they do not interfere in any way and they do not even give feedback to the teacher that they observed unless such feedback is specifically requested.

Directly after each session, the observers meet in private. The purpose of this meeting is not to comment on the teaching methods of the teacher concerned. Instead, the focus is upon the lessons learned from that teacher. The observers compare notes and they discuss ways in which they can use those lessons to improve their own teaching efforts. No report is submitted and the meetings are deemed to be confidential.

These observation sessions offer numerous advantages. They allow teachers to learn from each other and they allow experienced teachers to share their techniques and methods. In the process, everybody benefits. The students benefit from newly inspired teachers, the teachers benefit because they have the chance to grow professional and the entire educational system benefit because the quality of teaching is improved.

The system has critics, of course. They say that teachers being observed pay special attention to those classes and therefore present a false impression regarding their day to day classroom behaviour. They also say that the sessions are far too short and that the informal arrangement holds no benefits for the system as a whole and that they simply waste the time of everybody involved.

Learning from experienced peers is as old as civilization itself. That is where the apprentice system comes from. Teachers enjoy observation sessions. It not only gives them a chance to learn but it also allows them to interact with their colleagues on a professional level. Educational experts all agree that teachers must be given the opportunity to grow, both personally and professionally.

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