Collaborative Professional Learning & Peer Feedback Protocol
Based on Dr. Robert Marzano’s “Art and Science of Teaching” and “Making the Most of Instructional Rounds”, Dr. John Hattie and Dr. Viviane Robinson’s research on Visible Learning and Collective Efficacy, Bill and Melinda Gate’s Foundation’s North Carolina New Schools Framework, PrincipaI Kevin Adams, lnstructional Rounds in Education: A Network Approach to Improving Teaching and Learning” by City, Elmore, Fiarman, and Teitel.
The goal of education is student learning. When you walk into almost any school in the United States you’ll see adults who care deeply about students, but a great amount of variability among classrooms and a great amount of difference in the effectiveness of instruction. The goal has changed and schools are being asked to do something they weren’t asked to do many years ago….educate ALL children to a high level, yet we don’t always know how to do that for every child in every class. The Instructional Rounds model of professional collaboration, developed at Harvard Graduate School of Education , was based on the medical rounds model used by doctors and surgeons for many years. Through this process, educators develop a shared practice of observing, discussing, and analyzing learning and teaching.
Even in the lowest performing schools in America, there's at least one educator in the building that has mastered the art and science of teaching and learning, a classroom where ALL children learn at a high level every day. The process of instructional rounds open the doors of classrooms across the school where all teachers can see what works and have professional dialogue about the practice of teaching and how to reach all children. This is a collaborative approach where teachers aren't evaluative, but instead are a team of experts trying to solve an educational problem.
Marzano - What are Instructional Rounds?
Instructional Rounds are a practice of collaboration among experts to examine a problem and work together for a solution. In education, teachers and administrators work together to identify and sole common problems related to teaching and learning. The instructional rounds process is a structured and collaborative way for schools and teachers to:
- diagnose learning needs for students and educators
- focus on and improve learning tasks
- develop a shared vision of high-quality teaching and learning
- foster a collaborative culture that supports learning
It's important to understand that the instructional rounds process isn't evaluative. Instructional rounds is an inquiry process and all participants should expect to learn something from working with others. Instructional Rounds are about "fixing" an ineffective teacher. Rounds are about student learning in classrooms, how we as a system produce those impacts, and how we can move closer to producing the learning we want to see for ALL children.
"The challenge is that we are asking schools to do something they have never done before - educate ALL students to high levels - and we don't know how to do that in every classroom for every child." - Elizabeth City, Richard Elmore, Sarah Fiarman, and Lee Teitel (Instructional Rounds in Education)
Why do instructional rounds?
Instructional rounds is working together, as a team, to solve an educational problem. Committees build collective efficacy that together we can significantly and positively impact student learning. Several reason to do instructional rounds for school-wide instructional improvements include:
- To take improvement to the next level. Cycle of continuous improvement.
- To build a common understanding of effective learning and teaching. Define and demonstrate effective learning for all students in all classrooms.
- To reduce variability. Instructional coherence and consistency across all classrooms at the school.
- To focus the work. Find a problem and work together for a solution.
- To put educators in charge of their own learning. Focus on collective efficacy. It’s really behavior modification: Tell me what to do, and I’m going to resist it, but give me time, let me do it and see the results . . . and I’ll change my behavior.
- To provide data and inform professional development. This is part of a feedback loop in a cycle of continuous improvement.
The data from instructional rounds give us a more complete picture of student learning and bluntly show whether professional development has had an impact on student performance and whether we have adequately addressed the problem of practice. Educators opt in to do instructional rounds because it’s part of professional practice to continually inform and improve their practice. This finally gives us a structure to have conversations about instructional practice.
"Traditional methods of teachers working in isolation or in silos cannot meet the rigors of the current curriculum or the high expectations currently associated with instructional improvement that accountability models require" - Doyle, 2012
The Instructional Rounds Process
Instructional rounds is a 4 step process:
(1) Problem of Practice - Create a committee and identify a problem of practice. This includes the pre-observation or and collaborative discussion about the problem at hand and the observation of practice to follow.This will involve data and be focused on students' learning.
(2) Observation of Practice - This includes the learning walks and observation of teaching and learning in classrooms. The team of observers will examine all aspects of the problem through a student-centered lense that's focused on evidence and impact.
(3) Debriefing - This is a collaborative professional dialogue about what was observed and the impact on learning. This is not evaluative, but instead collaborative about effective teaching and learning. In the debriefing, the team will discuss potential solutions to the problem of practice.
(4) Next Level of Work - This includes implementing the strategies and/or solutions the team devised for the problem of practice. This always has a student-centered focus where the school practices systemic improvement across all classrooms and can use the collaborative process for continuous improvement.
“It is clear that closed classroom doors will not help us educate students to high levels. It is also clear that what happens in classrooms matters for student learning and we can do more together than we can do individually to improve learning and teaching . . . the image of the teacher behind the closed classroom door is giving way to an image of an open door, but many educators are not sure what to look for when they open the door or what to do with what they see.” – Elizabeth City
"Research shows that current models of professional development call for collaborative practices where teachers are actively engaged in their own learning" - (Archibald, Coggshall, Croft, & Goe, 2011; Gibbs, 2011; Hirsh & Killion, 2 2007; Learning Forward, 2011; Loveless, 2013; Tournaki, Lyublinskaya, & Carolan, 2011).
The goal in doing instructional rounds is to help schools and teachers develop effective and powerful teaching and learning on a large scale, not just isolated pockets of good teaching in the midst of sub-par and mediocre teaching. “Will doing rounds lead to an increase in student learning? Will it raise test scores?” The short answer is: by itself, no. It’s not a single silver bullet, but it’s part of a process of continuous school-wide instructional improvement and professional collaborative learning. . The focus is on what goes on in classrooms that anchors improvement efforts in the instructional core and the complex relationships among teachers, students, and learning. The rounds process provides a key source of data and a powerful feedback loop to tell educators whether their systemic improvement efforts are actually reaching the student’s level and having an impact on learning. The collaborative process of instructional rounds creates norms for all classrooms across the school. Instructional Rounds isn't about "fixing" teachers or evaluation, instead it's about collaboration for continued improvement in teaching and learning as a professional practice to improve instruction and student achievement.