Instructional rounds are a disciplined way for educators to work together to improve practice. This combines three common elements of improvement: observations, an improvement strategy, and a network of educators. Many educators currently use one or more of these elements, often with some success. It’s the combination of elements that are most powerful. It’s hard to dislodge familiar habits and behaviors that serve different purposes, the most ingrained of which are supervision and evaluation.
Instructional rounds contrast with supervision and evaluation on a number of dimensions, the first of which is learning. Rounds are an inquiry process. People doing round should expect to learn something themselves. In supervision and evaluation, only the person being observed is expected to learn. Participants in rounds emphasize the learning they do as observers. Rounds are NOT about “fixing” individual teachers. Rounds are about understanding what’s happening in schools, how we as a system produce those effects, and how we can move closer to producing the learning we want to see.
Rounds are fundamentally descriptive and analysis, not evaluative. At no point in rounds do we declare what we see to be “good” or “bad” or something we “like” or “don’t like.” Observers don’t tell the observed what to do next to improve. However, observers do think about the “next level of work” or what the school could do to make progress toward solving their problem of practice.