Teachers have many responsibilities and they often have to perform their jobs in isolation. They are seldom thanked for the many sacrifices that they make on behalf of their students. Few teachers have the opportunity to attend courses because their jobs require them to be involved in their teaching activities all the time. Yet teachers can learn a lot from each other and that is why classroom walkthroughs have become so popular lately.
The goal of instructional rounds is not to evaluate teachers in a formal manner. Its purpose is to allow small groups of observers to visit another teacher in class and to see how he or she teaches. In this way teachers can learn from each other. The observers do not provide formal feedback and they do not discuss their opinions with anyone other than the teacher concerned.
Setting up a system of instructional rounds is simple and straight forward. Small groups of observers, often from different schools visit another teacher in class. The students are informed that there will be visitors and they are advised that the visitors are there to learn. Observers typically attend classes for fifteen minutes only and they never take part in the teaching activities.
In order to gain full benefit from an observation session it may be best to focus on one or two aspects of teaching only. Observers may, for example, concentrate on the way in which the host teacher communicate with the students or the manner in which he uses his teaching aids and other visual media. Observation sessions seldom last more than a quarter of an hour.
It is important that observers have a debriefing session after a visit. During this discussion they have the opportunity to share their impressions with each other. They can also devise ways in which to incorporate new ideas and techniques in their own teaching. The discussions during these debriefing sessions are never shared with anyone outside the group. The host teacher can attend the session but they are not obliged to do so. If requested to do so the observers may present the host teacher with a report.
Educational experts agree that instructional rounds hold many benefits. It can play an important role in fostering better relationship between teachers from different schools. Because the focus is upon learning from each other, the general quality of education can only benefit. Host teachers often feel motivated by the feedback they receive from observers and it goes without saying that students can only benefit when their teachers uses new techniques and methods in the class.
It is true that an instructional rounds system can cause harm. In most cases harm can be caused if the central principles of the system are not observed. Host teachers are not to be formally evaluated and they may never be criticized. Evaluation should be part of the formal policies of the local educational authorities and not part of a mutual learning exercise.
Instructional rounds can play a vital role in helping to improve the quality of education. Teachers with years of valuable experience often do not get the opportunity to share their expertise with others. In the same vein, teachers with less experience are seldom exposed to the methods and techniques employed by senior educators. By learning from each other and by building relationships teachers can make a difference to the classroom experience.
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Author: Karina FrostThis author has published 246 articles so far.