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Lean on your colleagues to improve your practice. In 2016, the Arizona K12 Center launched its first ever instructional rounds professional development session with Harvard-educated Dr. Sarah Fiarman, co-author of Instructional Rounds in Education. Instructional rounds — a practice of protocols and

Aug 19, 2019

Lean on your colleagues to improve your practice.


In 2016, the Arizona K12 Center launched its first ever instructional rounds professional development session with Harvard-educated Dr. Sarah Fiarman, co-author of Instructional Rounds in Education. Instructional rounds — a practice of protocols and processes adapted from the field of medicine — brings educators together to discuss instruction, solve common problems, and improve practice.

How it works: Participants visit classrooms, chronicling specific and descriptive observations. Then they analyze the data, looking for trends and patterns, all with the goal of arriving at a common focus and purpose. This ultimately guides the next steps toward improvement.

Cut to 2019. The program is not only yielding powerful results in classrooms across Arizona, but it’s also growing in size. This year’s Introduction to Instructional Rounds is joined by a second event, the Instructional Rounds Forum. “This is a chance for participants to take their learning deeper,” explains Angelia Ebner, Associate Director of Programs for the Arizona K12 Center.

We caught up with Ebner to find out just what makes instructional rounds so beneficial for Arizona educators.

Q: What would you say to a teacher who is apprehensive about feeling judged about his or her teaching?


A: Instructional rounds build up trust. The mindset is, ‘I’m not coming in to look at you. I’m coming to look at how the teacher and student interact in the presence of content.’ This provides a lot more latitude for sharing information, analyzing data, and moving forward in ways that are positively impacting students. When teachers work together to build rapport, we get to look at the actions that are happening in the classroom — not just at the teacher — and how students benefit from those actions.

Q: What role does collecting or analyzing data play in improving classroom instruction?


A: Rather than doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, with rounds, teachers collect data, come together as a team to identify trends, and then allow the trends to point them in the direction of next steps. There are so many variables that impact student success, but being able to identify a problem of practice and say collectively, ‘these are the trends I’m seeing,’ helps bring about high-leverage change ideas.

Q: What other benefits can participants in this program look forward to?


A: The Instructional Rounds Forum is a network meeting for those who are currently or who have already done the rounds training. It’s an opportunity to problem-solve, share learning with one other, and check in at the midway point between the first and second instructional rounds sessions. We want to build a network for educators and keep folks connected. We want them to reach out to each other, even if that’s outside of us.

Q: How does instructional round affect teachers’ ability to collaborate amongst themselves?


A: With instructional rounds, we went from siloed classrooms to open classrooms. There is a deeper interaction and buy-in from all of those involved. They have a clear vision of where they want to go, and they are trying — collectively — to get there. If teachers work together, think about what kind of impact that’s going to have on students.

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