Friday, December 23, 2016

How Instructional Rounds Benefit The Entire Educational System

By Joshua Morgan

The educational system is under tremendous pressure. There are simply not enough resources and teachers have to deal with numerous responsibilities. They have to achieve good results in the classroom but they are over burdened by administrative responsibilities, endless meetings, extra curricular activities and other tasks. They have almost no chance to develop professionally. At least, with instructional rounds teachers are given the chance to learn and to develop their professional teaching skills.

The good thing about this system is that it is easy to implement and to manage. All that happens is that a few teachers get together to visit a teaching session of a colleague. It is a voluntary system and even the observed teacher has to agree to such an observation session. The whole idea behind the system is to observe more experienced teachers and to learn from the way that he teaches.

The observers meet before the visit in order to formulate specific objectives for the observation session. These objectives normally focus on the known strong points of the observed colleague. He may, for example, have a reputation for enhancing his lesson with the effective use of multimedia, or he may be very successful in maintaining discipline in the classroom. The observers aim to find out how he does it.

These sessions should never be equated with evaluation sessions. In this case the observers do not conduct any form of evaluation. They are rather there to learn from a professional and to discover new inspiration for teaching as a profession. The students are informed about the aim of the session and the observers never take part in the lesson. Unless the observed teacher asks for it, no feedback is ever given to anyone.

Directly after the observation session the observers have another meeting. They compare notes but their discussions always focus on what it was that the learned. They are not permitted to criticise at all. They also debate ways in which they can improve their own classroom performances based on what they learned during the observation session. All their discussions are confidential and they do not submit a report.

The popularity of this system has soared. It is easy to plan and to implement and teachers are keen to participate. These sessions allow them to get to know their colleagues a little better and they are given the opportunity to develop professionally. Many participants have professed that they have learned much during these sessions and that their own results have improved as a consequence. The benefits of the system are enjoyed by all the role players in education.

There are always critics. In this case they say that these sessions are of no consequence because they are too short and infrequent. They say that observed teachers put on an act for observers. They are in the minority, however. Most educators are in favour of the system. They say that they cherish the opportunity learn and that they find that they are once again enthusiastic about their jobs.

Nobody will argue the fact that the educational system is under pressure and that many schools produce poor results. Any system that aims to improve the situation should be supported. These observation sessions are easy to implement and they do not require funding. If it helps to improve the quality of education it should be supported at all levels of the overall educational system.

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