Saturday, May 14, 2016

Instructional Rounds Helps Teachers To Improve

By Timothy Edwards

Teachers have a very tough job. They often work in difficult circumstances. While their work load is very high, they seldom have all the resources they need to do their jobs well. Many teachers have to deal with disciplinary problems and sometimes they even have to work under dangerous conditions. Opportunities for professional development are few and far between, but at least they can become part of instructional rounds to learn from respected colleagues.

The concept is simple and straightforward. A small group of teachers, under the leadership of a senior colleague attend the class of another teacher that is deemed experienced and innovative. The observers do not take any part in the classroom activities. They are simply focused on observing and on making notes. No teacher is ever forced to agree to being observed or even to attend an observation session.

Although the sessions are not rigorously structured, observers still meet before attending a session. In this meeting they agree on specific goals and the classroom activities that they want to focus on. Teachers being observed are often known for a particular talent or skill and observers will typically focus on that talent or skill during the observation session, hoping to develop similar talents and skills.

Experts are quick to point out that these observation sessions should never be confused with any for of student or teacher evaluation. They have only one purpose and that it is to impart teaching skills and techniques. For this reason, feedback is seldom given after a session and then only if the teacher under observation requests feedback. Care is also taken to make sure that students understand the purpose of such sessions.

After observation sessions, observers meet again. This meeting is confidential and no formal notes or reports are drawn up. The purpose of this meeting is to consolidate the lessons learnt during the observation session. The observers share their notes and they discuss ways in which they can improve their own performance in the classroom by applying ideas and techniques that they observed during the session.

Observation sessions offer many benefits. Participants agree that they learn valuable lessons from their experienced colleagues and that they are often inspired by them. This, in turn, lead to better teaching methods and more innovation in the classroom and the learners reap the benefits of these improvements. Teachers being observed are also often motivated by the recognition they are given by their fellow teachers.

Critics say that these sessions are nothing but a waste of time. They are of the opinion that the sessions are to short to result in meaningful learning. There are even those that say that teachers being observed often act out of character during such sessions because they simply want to impress their colleagues. Most teachers disagree. They say that they find the sessions worthwhile and instructive.

Nobody will deny the fact that one of the most important components of a healthy society is a quality educational system. Anything that helps to improve the quality of education should be applauded. Teachers need every opportunity that they can get to grow both personally and professionally. In the end, society as a whole benefits.

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