School Based Instructional Rounds: a progressive book club discussion (Ch 1 & 2)

In an earlier post I wrote about personal teacher professional learning. One of our teachers is doing a leadership course at Bastow Institute this year and her research project is using instructional rounds at the school level with teachers.

One of the professional learning strategies we are using is a book club between 3 of us.
To date we have read chapters 1 and 2 and really enjoyed the conversation. I thought a few posts as we go ahead through the book might be useful for others who are either reading or thinking about reading the book.

schoolbasedinstruc_223In Chapter One (p.20) they talked about rounds being able to “test the causal connections between an instructional initiative and the impact it has in classrooms on learning and teaching.” 

This is something we also thought about, having focused on one round on the initiative (Words their Way) for “spelling” in 2014-2015. It took 3 days with a school based team to visit about 80% of classrooms teaching spelling to make observations. We collected data and then were able to graph some results and present this to the staff for some discussion. Through discussion a number of variations in practice emerged which we then clarified through some professional learning.

We intend to complete a second set of the round now 12 months later again on spelling to see how the approach is now being implemented, what clarifications might be needed and what potential problems of practice are emerging.

Our thinking was challenged when on p.23 they talked about developmental nature of organisational improvement and the need for protocols like the 5 whys to do a root cause analysis on problems of practice – to go deeper. It’s certainly one we will use in 2015 when we present the data again and we go into discussion mode.

Chapter Two was about a small school in a rural district which opened with a teacher comment about being “walked on” (p.31) to describe teacher anxiety around observation. It was interesting to note that they expected teachers to “steal ideas”  as they observe. I think this was more about reducing anxiety and promoting collaboration – perhaps?

Marilyn Oats the principal gave a Roland Barth type quote (Learning by Heart) where he said the principal is the lead learner) when she said “My job as principal is to ask the questions, and to keep the inquiry going. I am the chief questioner – that is how I help teachers learn.”

More on the other chapters soon.