Monday, April 9, 2018

Why Implementing Instructional Rounds In All Schools Is Important

By Lisa Sullivan

Those that think that teaching is a half day job and that teachers have nothing to do but teach are very badly mistaken. Teachers have to deal with numerous responsibilities. They not only teach, but they also have to grade papers, complete many administrative tasks, become involved in extra curricular activities, attend endless meetings and work around the fact that they always have to do their jobs without adequate resources. They have no time for self development. However, instructional rounds may be at least part of the answer.

This system is designed to provide a way in which a small group of teachers can learn from an experienced teacher. They do this by attending a class of the teacher under observation. The observers are expected to be unobtrusive. They are not allowed to participate in the lesson or to ask any questions. Their focus is to learn something from the teacher in action. This is always a voluntary system.

Before attending a lesson, observers first meet with each other. The purpose of this meeting is to formulate some objectives for the observation session. Observers are encouraged to focus on the strengths of the teacher under observation because that is where they will learn most. In this way observers may, for example, decide to focus on the ability of the observed teacher to draw students into discussions.

The most important characteristic of the observation sessions is that they do not involve any form of evaluation. Such an approach will defeat the entire purpose of the session. The teacher being observed is not judged. All participants, even the students, are clearly informed of this fact. The only purpose of the observation session is to help the observers to improve their own teaching techniques and methods. There are no secondary objectives.

Every observation sessions is followed by a second meeting. The observers share their experiences and they discuss the lessons that they have learned from their colleague. They also brainstorm some ideas about ways in which to implement these lessons in their own class rooms. These discussions are confidential. No criticism of the observed teacher is allowed and no report is submitted.

The observation of peers in the field of education has become extremely popular and many universities and colleges have also implemented such systems. The majority of educators that have experience of this system, whether as observers or as the educator under observation agrees that there are many benefits to be had. Ultimately, however, it is the quality of education that is improved.

It is only natural that the system has critics. They complain that the sessions are too short and too informal. They say that because teachers being observed know about it well in advance, they make a special effort to impress their colleagues, thereby negating all the benefits of the system. Some even believe that this system is a convenient way in which to neglect much needed formal teacher development programs.

The fact remains that the entire education system is under tremendous pressure. No one will deny the fact that major steps are necessary to improve the situation. Observation sessions are easy to implement and they do not require funding. If they help to improve the quality of education then they are certainly worth a try.

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