Instructional Rounds (IR) is an educational practice designed to develop a shared understanding of effective learning and teaching and to bring discussion of instruction directly into the process of school improvement. Originating in a partnership between Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Connecticut Center for School Change’s Superintendents’ Network, instructional rounds emerged as a systematic way to get educators into classrooms, collecting descriptive evidence, identifying trends and patterns, and figuring out ways to advance collective instructional practice.
The Center has introduced and facilitated instructional rounds in numerous Connecticut districts over the last 15 years. This past year, the Center hosted more than 70 educators in an Instructional Rounds Institute. Under the Center’s guidance, IR implementation is a highly structured, protocol-driven process focused on the instructional core — the interaction between students and teachers around content identified by the school leadership team.
How it works
IR is based on the medical rounds model used by physicians in teaching hospitals. The educational adaptation of this model was described in the book Instructional Rounds in Education by Elizabeth City, Richard Elmore, Sarah Fiarman and Lee Teitel, with a forword from our former Executive Director, Andrew Lachman.
Through practice and continuous improvement, we’ve learned that instructional rounds is a game-changer, helping frame and solve problems of instructional practice while empowering educators and district administrators. Conditions for a successful implementation of Instructional Rounds include:
- A commitment to continuous instructional improvement as evidenced by the district improvement plan and/or the superintendent’s existing plan of action;
- An articulated vision on the part of the district recognizing instructional rounds as a vehicle that can have a significant impact on school and district culture;
- A willingness to integrate IR with current, present and future initiatives in an effort to develop district coherence;
- An agreement that participation in IR training and visitations will include the superintendent, central office staff, building principals, teachers, and the union president;
- A commitment to allocate sufficient resources to ensure fidelity to the IR process: books, full-day substitute coverage for teachers, technology and the identification of a district liaison to CCSC;
- A plan for informing stakeholders, including the Board of Education, about instructional rounds and the centrality of the instructional core to the IR process;
- An understanding that IR is not to be used to monitor district initiatives or to evaluate teachers.