Instructional rounds’ approach flips classroom evaluations

From eschool News, June 23

As school leaders work to improve classroom teaching, a new way of evaluating instruction—one that shifts the focus from the teacher to the students—is emerging. Called “instructional rounds,” the practice is based on the way doctors make their rounds in a teaching hospital, using facts rather than value judgments to determine the effectiveness of instruction. Because it looks at how well kids are learning rather than how well the teacher is teaching, and because it includes fellow teachers on the evaluation team, this collaborative approach to classroom evaluation is less likely to meet with objections from educators, its advocates say.

The concept is currently being tested in five small school districts in California. Superintendents there attended training classes at Cambridge, MA. “Where traditional methods kind of stand at the back of the room and watch the teachers, this is almost like standing at the front of the room and looking at all the students,” one of the participants said.

Elizabeth City is one of the Harvard-based education specialists who helped develop the method, “We can think of rounds as combining three things that educators are pretty familiar with into a practice,” City said. “One is network—a group of educators who form a community over time. Part two is classroom observations, and that’s kind of what people think of as the main part of the practice. And then the third part is strategy, which in most places takes the form of improvement plans.”

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