The concept is easy to understand and to implement. All it means is that small groups of teachers visit other teachers, normally very experienced ones, in their own classrooms and observe how they go about their teaching tasks. An experienced teacher is in charge of the group of observers. These observers simply attend the class and do not interfere or take part in any manner.
Each observation session has very clear goals. The observers meet prior to the session and agree to those goals. The goal may be, for example, to see how the teacher being observed uses visual aids during the lesson. The purpose of these sessions is for the observers to learn new techniques and approaches, so they would normally focus on the known strengths of the teacher under observation.
These observation sessions have nothing to do with evaluation. The teacher being observed is not is not in the firing line. The whole idea is to learn from the teacher in action. In fact, observers normally choose very experienced and successful teachers to observe. After the observation session no feedback is give to the teacher concerned but it may be given if it is requested specifically.
Directly after each session, the observers meet in private. The purpose of this meeting is not to comment on the teaching methods of the teacher concerned. Instead, the focus is upon the lessons learned from that teacher. The observers compare notes and they discuss ways in which they can use those lessons to improve their own teaching efforts. No report is submitted and the meetings are deemed to be confidential.
Everyone benefits from these observation sessions. They give teachers the opportunity to get to know each other and to learn from each other. Students benefit because their teachers learn new techniques to improve the quality of teaching. The educational system benefit because everyone involved improves and higher morale and motivation is often a side benefit of such sessions. Even the teachers being observed benefits because they know that they are seen as experts in their field.
Detractors of this system say that it does not achieve anything because the observation sessions are too short, because the teachers being observed make a special effort to impress their colleagues and because the entire system does not make provision for official feedback. However, teachers seem to love the idea and they normally partake gladly. Students too, seems to like observation sessions.
There can be no doubt that all professionals, regardless of the field within which they work, learn from each other. Efforts to create opportunity for such learning experiences should be applauded. In addition, any initiative to increase the quality of education should enjoy the support of learners, teachers, school governing bodies and the public at large.
Why Instructional Rounds Benefit The Entire Educational System
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