Inspired by the medical-rounds practitioner model used by physicians, Instructional Rounds is a form of professional learning through which educators develop a shared practice of observing, discussing, and analyzing teaching and learning in classrooms. Developed by Elizabeth City and Richard Elmore, Instructional Rounds pulls educators—principals, central office administrators, instructional coaches and teachers—into a structured practice that focuses on the identification, deconstruction and strategic development of high quality teaching and learning. Race to the Top funds provide training and implementation support for the Instructional Rounds model in MNPS.
During the instructional rounds process, educators and administrators identify a “problem of practice” that highlights an area of instructional challenge or need. One such example is the challenge of providing highly effective differentiated instruction for classrooms of students with diverse abilities and learning styles. Once an instructional need has been identified, groups of professional educators engage in a collaborative process that involves collecting data from observations of several classrooms, followed by a methodological debriefing session where they analyze their findings and create viable options or strategies for improving the identified instructional practice. The entire process is reviewed and shared with the school leadership in order to maintain transparency of the process and give insight into the thinking behind the recommendations. The leadership then shares the process and recommendations with faculty and other stakeholders. The school administration and faculty develop and implement the advised strategies, and receive ongoing support through follow-up sessions with their colleagues. The school receives further ongoing support and follow-up sessions from district-level administrators as they implement the strategies. When implemented with fidelity, Instructional Rounds assists district leaders, school leaders, and classroom teachers in the establishment of a shared understanding of what high-quality instruction looks like and what schools and districts need to do to improve and support it.